Chief of the Defence Staff General Jonathan Vance remarks to the House of Commons Standing Committee on National Defence regarding Operation IMPACT

Statement / December 6, 2018

Today, I will provide you with an update about Operation IMPACT. Our specific military activities for this operation have evolved over time, but I want you to know, the aim of Operation IMPACT remains clear and unchanged.

We are one of 79 Coalition members committed to defeating Da’esh, and setting the conditions for security and stability in the region.

Da’esh has lost over 98% of the territory it once held. Almost 8 million people have been liberated. The Coalition has trained and equipped more than 170,000 members of the Iraqi Security Forces.

All of that to say, the Coalition’s efforts have been effective. Da’esh’s territorial control has been severely reduced. People are returning to their homes, and rebuilding their lives.

The Coalition is moving into a phase of stabilization. That is, focusing on aiding the Government of Iraq in restoring, maintaining, and establishing civil order and governance.

The fight is not over. There is more work to be done.

Da’esh has moved underground. Although significantly weakened, it is likely that the group will continue to launch small-scale attacks. The prevailing ideology and instability that enabled it to rise are not yet defeated.

This is not a risk-free environment, but I can assure you that the men and women on the ground are well-trained and carefully selected for their expertise.

We conduct rigorous planning to make sure our people have

  • the right equipment
  • the right support
  • the right command and control structures

In short, everything they need to accomplish their tasks.

We have been gradually shifting from achieving tactical effects to setting the conditions for regional stability and security.

And as we move forward, we will remain flexible to meet the evolving demands of the campaign.

In the air, our CC-150 Polaris tanker has enabled Coalition partners to fly longer and farther, which enhances their operational effectiveness. And our CC-130J Hercules aircraft have transported more than 8 million pounds of cargo.  

In Northern Iraq, three CH-146 Griffon helicopters provide our deployed personnel with tactical airlift — transporting Canadian troops, equipment, and supplies.

Also in Northern Iraq, we have led a Role 2 medical facility since October 2016. We have provided medical and dental care to over 2,500 people.

On the intelligence front, we have a team that collects, synthesizes, and analyzes intelligence to support the Coalition. This is used to protect our partner forces and plan operations.

Moving to a more regional outlook, we have multiple teams working to build resilience and enable long-term security and stability.

Brigadier-General Delaney leads the Ministerial Liaison Team. We took on that leadership role in 2016, and have been working to build enduring relationships with the Iraqi government.

In the past year and a half, we have also increased our focus on training. Our combat engineers are delivering counter improvised explosive device training, and route clearing training, to Iraqi security forces. This September, we started training in the Q-West facility and we’ve trained over 500 Iraqi security force members thus far. 

And in Jordan and Lebanon, our training and assistance teams are working to build our partners’ military capacities.

Now, I’d like to take a moment to clarify a few points about our Special Operations Forces’ train, advise, and assist mission.

Early on during Operation IMPACT, special operations forces members partnered with the Kurdish Peshmerga who were facing an immediate threat as Da’esh swept over Northern Iraq. In coordination with our Coalition partners, we determined that we could achieve the greatest effect by working with them.

Our train, advise and assist efforts enabled the Kurdish security forces to refine their skills, bolster their defences, and set the stage for their participation in the Mosul operation in October 2016.

As you know, the Iraqi security forces successfully took back Mosul last summer. Canada was a key contributor to this success in an advisory capacity at the tactical level.

As the campaign evolved — from degrading Da’esh, to counterattack, to defeating their organized efforts — our partnerships have also evolved.

In order to support Iraqi-led efforts in Mosul, we partnered with select Iraqi security force units — all of which were carefully vetted.

These decisions were based on the Coalition campaign requirements, and based on where our special operations forces members could provide the most effective contribution.

We continue to take that approach, working with specific Iraqi units to achieve the greatest effect in maintaining security.

Now, looking to the future.

In addition to other activities under Operation IMPACT, Canada will lead the NATO training mission in Iraq. This mission is not a replacement of the Coalition; it is complementary.

Our contribution to the NATO mission includes up to 250 troops. A number of Canadians have arrived and are setting up, and the mission is expected to start in full early in the New Year.

It is being led by Major-General Dany Fortin, and I have great confidence in his leadership.

The NATO mission will provide training to Iraqi security forces and help Iraq build a more effective national security structure. We are taking a train-the- trainer approach to create sustainable change.

Along with our allies, we’ll help our Iraqi partners to develop skills in key areas like bomb disposal, combat medicine, and logistics. And throughout all of it, we will place emphasis on the law of armed conflict.

To conclude, as we move forward, the Canadian Armed Forces will be contributing to both Coalition and NATO efforts in the region during Operation IMPACT. These efforts are being well coordinated and are complementary to each other.

This is a complex problem that cannot be solved by military might alone.

Our efforts are part of a broader Government of Canada strategy which includes humanitarian assistance, development aid, and political and security sector reform.

As the conditions in Iraq and the region evolve, I will continue to work with the Minister, Deputy Minister, and our allies and partners to develop, execute, and assess our plans.

And through all of that, our deployed men and women are doing what they do best: demonstrating their professionalism, leadership, and operational excellence in challenging areas of operations.   

Jonathan H. Vance
Chief of the Defence Staff

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