Canadian Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan on Saturday apologized for exaggerating his role in one of his country’s most celebrated battles in Afghanistan.
Sajjan misrepresented his role while on an official visit to New Delhi, India on Apr. 18, when the minister described himself as the “archictect” of the battle dubbed Operation MEDUSA. Sajjan was a reservist lieutenant-colonel in the Canadian Army intelligence branch at the time of the battle where Canadian soldiers killed, injured or took prisoner 1,500 Taliban terrorists. Twelve Canadian soldiers from the Royal Canadian Regiment died in that fight.
Sajjan spoke of being “proudly on the main assault.”
Sajjan’s comments, first reported by the National Post, came under attack from several officiers who were part of the main assault.
“I made a mistake in describing my role,” Sajjan stated in a Facebook apology on Saturday. “I wish to retract that description and apologize for it. I am truly sorry. While I am proud of the role I played during my deployments to Afghanistan, my comments were in no way intended to diminish the roles of my former superiors and fellow soldiers. To them I offer my sincere apologies,” said Sajjan.
“What I should have said is that our military successes are the result of the leadership, service and sacrifice of the many dedicated women and men in the Canadian Forces. Operation Medusa was successful because of leadership of MGen (Ret’d) Fraser and the extraordinary team with whom I had the honour of serving.”
Operation Medusa was a 2006 offensive in Afghanistan’s Kandahar province that was initiated and led by Canadian forces in the country at the time, primarily the 1st battalion of the The Royals Canadian Regiment.
Sajjan is not the only former military officer serving in Trudeau’s cabinet. Retired lieutenant-general Andrew Leslie is a former commander of the Canadian Army and fully expected to be appointed to the defense portfolio when Trudeau became prime minister.