Currently, Canada is involved in 14 operations worldwide. Although most of them are with the U.N., we have served for more than 10 years in Kandahar, Afghanistan where fighting occurred on a daily basis. We participated in almost all of the U.N. peacekeeping missions since the 1970s, making us one the largest contributors to the peacekeeping effort. Canada was also involved in the first Gulf War.

I have heard so many times things like “Canada has an army?” or “Canadian soldiers are this and that.” This article might prove you wrong. I am writing this as I think that the world should know that we fought bravely and as hard as we could in the last decade alongside our NATO allies in Afghanistan.

This is one of the most important operations Canada took part and even led in our time in Kandahar. From 2006 to 2011, we stood our ground and inflicted a great deals of casualties to the Taliban. I was also told by civilians in a bazaar beside my COP in 2009 that the Taliban openly said that the Canadians were very good warriors and they respected us.

This article reflects on the knowledge I have from Operation Medusa, which is very little and from website such as Wikipedia and this website. I did copy some integral parts of their texts and I am sorry about it, but I wanted to expose the facts that happened during Operation Medusa.

From September 2-17 2006, Canada was involved in an operation called Medusa. Canada led the second battle for Panjwaii that included soldiers from the United States, United Kingdom, Netherlands, Denmark and the Afghan National Army for an approximate total of 1,400 soldiers on the ground. Canada contributed about 1,050 soldiers and a handful of Canadian SOF. Operation Medusa was the first NATO ground combat operation in history, and was the largest Canadian offensive since the Korean War.

On the other side, it is believed that the Taliban numbered about 1,200 fighters.

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Operation Medusa was the biggest battle in Afghanistan since 2002, and was intended to clear the district of Panjwai of the hundreds, maybe thousands, of Taliban fighters controlling the district. Panjwai is also the birthplace of Mullah Omar, the Taliban spiritual leader, and saw the birth of the Taliban movement in the mid-1990s. I had the chance of go to Sangisar, the village he was born in, and let me tell you that it was the FARWEST and we had to peel back quickly.

During the battle, 28 coalition soldiers were killed; 12 of them were Canadian soldiers from 1st Battalion Royal Canadian Regiment Battle Group. 14 British soldiers died in an MR-2 crash (not the result of hostile action), 1 American soldier (Sergeant 1st Class Micheal T. Fuga, who was a mentor with the ANA) and 1 Dutch soldier. On the Taliban side, 512 fighters were killed and 136 were captured, for a total of 648. That’s an average of 32 EKIA and 3.5 Taliban fighters captured per day.

On September 2, at the very start of the Operation, the Canadian-led offensive killed more than 200 Taliban fighters, but four Canadian soldiers lost their lives while 9 others were wounded, one seriously, in the fighting.

Unfortunately on September 4, an American A-10 strafed Charles Company, killing one solider and wounded about 30 (5 were seriously wounded). During the same day, Canadian and Dutch artillery and NATO airstrikes killed at least 51 Taliban fighters, while an estimated 700 Taliban fighters were trapped.

September 6, the artillery and the airstrikes claimed another 40 Taliban fighters, but 5 Canadian soldiers were wounded in a mortar attack.

September 8, 40 Taliban fighters were killed again by artillery and airstrike. There were also 3 insurgent positions that were destroyed, as well as an IED factory and a weapons cache. The Canadian-led offensive also made Highway 1 accessible again for the civilian traffic, and maintained patrols on it to keep it that way.

On September 9 and 10, heavy fighting occurred, killing 186 Taliban fighters.

From September 11-14, while the soldiers were finding IEDs and ammunitions, about 400 Taliban fighters fled to the Western Farah province to gain control of the Gulistan district.

The operation was over on September 17, and NATO concluded that it was a success in destroying the Taliban forces in Panjwai and Zhari district. These fighters were massing near Kandahar to counter-attack.

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The 3rd Special Forces Group of the US Army received the Canadian Commander-In-Chief Commendation on May 2012, for their action during Operation Medusa in 2006. The citation reads:

“During August and September 2006, the 1st Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne), United States Army, displayed extraordinary heroism and outstanding combat ability while battling insurgents in support of a Canadian-led operation in Afghanistan. After completing their initial objectives, they willingly engaged a much larger force to secure the Canadian Battle Group’s flank and prevent the enemy from staging an effective counter-offensive. Outnumbered and facing a well-prepared enemy, they were relentless in their assault and eventually captured the position after days of intense fighting.”

Many months after the conclusion of Operation MEDUSA, various military decorations were awarded to Canadian Forces soldiers, as well as one American soldier who was serving alongside the Canadians, for their bravery and dedication to duty during the execution of Operation MEDUSA. One soldier would be awarded the Star of Military Valour, the second highest military award for bravery in Canada; six soldiers were awarded Canada’s third highest medal for bravery, the Medal of Military Valour; and one soldier was mentioned in dispatches during the course of the operation. Likewise, the commander of Task Force Grizzly, an American Army National Guard colonel, was awarded Canada’s Meritorious Service Medal (military division) for his direction and professionalism while commanding the actions of his task force during MEDUSA.

For further reading, there are some excellent books on the subject,such as No Lack of Courage: Operation Medusa, Afghanistan and Lions of Kandahar.