Jamie Wilson tells Rotarians of Canada’s role in Afghanistan

Darrell Cole
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Operation Attention helping rebuild country and train its security forces

Canadians are continuing to play a key role in bringing peace to Afghanistan.

Amherst Rotarians and veterans Vern Parrett (left) and Bob Barnes (centre) look on as Capt. Jamie Wilson of the Royal Canadian Air Force lays a wreath at the Amherst Rotary Club’s Remembrance Day service. Wilson, a former Amherst resident, talked about his experiences in Afghanistan as part of Canada’s contribution to Operation Attention.

AMHERST – While Canadians are no longer fighting in Afghanistan, they are playing a vital role in rebuilding the war torn country.

Capt. Jamie Wilson of Amherst spoke to members of the Amherst Rotary Club about his service in Afghanistan during the club’s annual Remembrance Day service two veterans – Vern Parrett and Bob Barnes – join Wilson in laying a wreath in honour of those Rotarians and Canadians who served in war and peace.

Wilson was part of Operation Attention, which is Canada’s participation in the NATO training mission in Afghanistan. The mission delivers training and professional support to the national security forces including the Afghan army, police and air force.

The 26-year-old Amherst man was working with members of the United States Air Force, as well as those from Greece and Mongolia, in training the Afghan air force.

“The war is over for Canada, but there’s still a lot of conflict going on in the country,” Wilson told Rotarians. “This mission is important to Canada in that it’s important to finish what we started over there.”

Wilson, who graduated from ARHS and the Royal Military College in Kingston, Ont., said it was an honour to serve in Afghanistan. He said the mission to rebuilt the county’s shattered security forces is just one effort in bringing vital infrastructure to the county that has seen nothing but war for nearly four decades.

He said work is ongoing to develop and grow health care and education for the Afghan people, along with a system of government and other vital pieces of infrastructure such as roads.

Wilson said the Afghan air force has many veterans, some of whom have served for more than 30 years and are using equipment dating back to when the country was under Soviet domination in the 1980s.

He said the biggest challenge facing international members of the training force was coming to terms with the Afghan culture. While young soldiers are results driven, Wilson said, he soon learned the importance of development a relationship with the Afghan military and helping them take ownership of ideas.

“The biggest thing was to make it their idea and to help them build up their air force,” Wilson said. “It’s not about how this is done in Canada, it’s about how this is done in Afghanistan.”

Canada’s mission in Afghanistan is scheduled to end in March 2014.

Canadians have served in Afghanistan since January 2002 under Operation Apollo. Between August 2003 and July 2011, Canada expanded its combat operations under Operation Athena, first in Kabul then in Kandahar Province.

The Afghanistan conflict came at a cost to Canada with 158 Canadians killed during the combat phase of operations, including 132 to enemy action.


Twitter: @ADNdarrell



Organizations: Royal Military College, Amherst Rotary Club, NATO United States Air Force

Geographic location: Afghanistan, Canada, Greece Mongolia Kingston Kabul Kandahar Province

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