Canadian troops have begun to return home from Afghanistan, as the country's nine-year combat mission comes to a close, and Saskatchewan-born troops are thanking their home province for their support.
An email from Sergeant Chad Zopf of Regina, who is a member of Operation Athena Roto 11 in Kandahar, Afghanistan, was sent to several Saskatchewan publications recently showing photos of the troops displaying their provincial and Rider Pride.
"We would just like to say thank you to the Saskatchewan communities for the continued support we have received throughout the mission in Afghanistan," stated Zopf in his email.
Canada's 2,800 troops are mandated by parliament to return home in 2011. The mission officially ended on July 21.
Other countries have also announced troop withdrawals, but the Canadians are the first major contributor to begin a pull-out this year.
Canadian troops were first deployed in Afghanistan in 2002, only months after the US-led invasion, but forces took on a bigger role in 2006.
A separate Canadian training mission, involving some 950 troops, will be based in Afghanistan to train local security forces.
The US plans to withdraw 33,000 of its soldiers by the end of 2012, while several other countries, including France, Belgium and the UK, also have plans for a pull-out.
As of last month, the NATO mission in Afghanistan included about 132,000 troops from 48 countries, according to NATO. The biggest contributors were the US, UK, Germany, France and Italy.