Twenty years ago, they thought they were writing history.
“9/11 happened, and four months later we’re over there in Afghanistan, and it really mattered and people really cared,” said Alex Watson, captain on the first Canadian deployment, now retired and working as a lawyer in Calgary. “But in terms of long-term victories…a place like Afghanistan will break your heart.”
Canadian soldiers who served in Afghanistan recently hosted a reunion in Edmonton to rekindle the deep bonds of war and reflect on what has happened since the end of the US-led mission and the takeover of the country by the Taliban. A big question in the air: was it worth it?
“I would never butcher soldiers for the result we got,” said retired Colonel Pat Stogran, who commanded the 3rd Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry.
In the 12 years Canada has fought in Afghanistan, 158 Canadian soldiers have died and thousands more have suffered physical and psychological injuries. There have also been deaths by suicide after soldiers returned from deployments.
CBC’s David Common has traveled to Afghanistan eight times to report on the war, so when a reunion invitation landed in his inbox, he knew he had a lot of questions for alumni. fighters.
WATCH | 20 years after Afghanistan, soldiers are wondering: was it worth it? :
Watch full episodes of The National on Gem of Radio-Canadathe CBC streaming service.