Brig-Gen. Dean Milner, Commander Of Joint Task Force Kandahar, Returns Home

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Brig.-Gen Dean Milner center, Commander of Canadian Forces Kandahar slaute along with others for Afghan and Canadian anthem during a transfer of command authority ceremony in Kandahar airbase in Afghanistan, Thursday, July 7, 2011.Canadian combat operations have ended and their troops will transition to a non-combat training role with up to 950 soldiers and support staff to train Afghan soldiers and police in areas of the north, west and Kabul. | CP

THE CANADIAN PRESS: OTTAWA - Canada's top soldier in Afghanistan has returned home, now that the nine-year combat mission in that county has come to an end.

Brig.-Gen. Dean Milner landed in Ottawa on Friday, met by Defence Minister Peter MacKay as well as the chief of the defence staff, Gen. Walt Natynczyk, and other top brass.

"It just feels great to be here. It's been 10 or 11 months, and now back with family," Milner said the airport.

Milner, commander of Joint Task Force Kandahar, has overseen the winding down of the Canadian operation there.

He was travelling with 117 other soldiers, whose emotional families were on hand to meet them.

Canadian commanders formally handed the Kandahar battlefield over to U.S. forces earlier this month, but hundreds of troops are still in Afghanistan to help with training and support of the Afghan police and army.

"We felt really good. Our goal was to set up the Americans, and we feel very good about what we managed to accomplish," said Milner.

He mentioned the schools and buildings protected and built by Canadian troops, as well as progress in beating back the Afghan insurgents.

He said the soldiers returning home will take some time to decompress and re-unite with their families before thinking about next steps.

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