By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
Nov. 20, 2009 - Afghanistan was among the issues that Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Canadian Defense Minister Peter MacKay discussed during a bilateral meeting here today. In a speech to the Halifax International Security Forum here, Gates recognized the contributions and sacrifices that Canadian servicemembers have made in that country.
"In Afghanistan, the Canadian military has more than distinguished itself in battle in some of the most dangerous parts of the country," Gates said.
Canada has more than 2,800 troops in the ground in Afghanistan, serving in Regional Command South, where Canadian generals have commanded the troublesome region. Canada has suffered among the highest per-capita casualty rates there, with more than 130 servicemembers killed. Canada also has contributed generously to support economic and infrastructure improvements and in building government institutions.
"It was Canadian soldiers – along with our British, Dutch, Danish and Estonian allies – who largely held the line in the south before U.S. reinforcements arrived in strength earlier this year," Gates said.
The secretary called on other allies and friends "to do what they can on behalf of this noble and necessary campaign – an effort that will ... require more commitment, more sacrifice and more patience from the community of free nations."