Operation IMPACT - Technical briefing 19 February 2015

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Video / February 19, 2015

Transcript

Captain(Navy) Paul Forget, Canadian Joint Operations Command

Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. I will provide you with an update on Operation IMPACT – the Canadian Armed Forces’ support to the coalition fight against ISIL in Iraq.

The update will cover coalition and Iraqi forces efforts, as well as the Canadian Armed Forces’ contribution.

Over the last week, we have continued to maintain pressure on ISIL. In northern Iraq, Iraqi forces advances, supported by coalition air strikes, have regained some territory from ISIL. Also in northern Iraq, Iraqi forces successfully repelled ISIL assaults and regained ground they had lost in the summer. Iraqi forces are also manoeuvering to surround Mosul, the second largest city in Iraq and a significant hub in northern Iraq. These successes have hampered ISIL freedom of movement between Syria and Mosul, and forced ISIL to push their supply routes further to the south, further exposing them to coalition airstrikes.

In central Iraq, ISIL has been attempting to regain some offensive momentum.  Following successful operations by Iraqi forces west of Haditha, ISIL made an attempt against Al Asad Air Base that was repelled by security forces.  A counter-offensive by Iraqi forces is currently underway to retake the town of al Baghdadi. ISIL conducted operations against al Baghdadi in reaction to losses they incurred earlier in Haditha. The heaviest fighting is still occurring in the Ramadi – Fallujah corridor west of Baghdad and southeast of Hit, where ISIL continues to harass Iraqi forces in this region.

Since commencing operations, the coalition has conducted more than 1,300 airstrikes in Iraq, continuing to target mortar and fighting positions, bunkers, heavy machine guns, checkpoints and buildings used by ISIL. By damaging and destroying these assets, we are supporting the Iraqi forces in their ongoing efforts on the ground, and degrading ISIL’s capability.

Since last week, Canadian Armed Forces CF-18 aircraft conducted one airstrike. The map behind me shows the location of the airstrike that occurred on February 13. On that day, our CF-18s led a coalition airstrike against an ISIL compound housing an IED factory near Hit in Anbar province. 

In advance of the attack, coalition intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance data provided information that contributed to the review process of this target. Through observation and analysis it was determined that ISIL was using the building as an IED factory, and that the civilian population had vacated the area. Once the target was approved by the coalition and the Government of Iraq, the airstrike was executed, hitting all desired targets and resulting in the destruction of the compound. This successful airstrike was executed in concert with aircraft from two other coalition partners.

This airstrike is an example of the excellent exchange of information and coordination of activities between coalition partners.

Another example of coalition coordination is the support provided through the CC-150. More commonly known as the Polaris, this refueller aircraft has conducted 82 sorties, delivering over 4.6 million pounds of fuel to coalition aircraft. Our Polaris is routinely involved in supporting Canadian and coalition fighter aircraft that are striking targets on the ground. These fuel deliveries ensure aircraft have enough fuel to conduct missions throughout the entire region, extending the ability of coalition fighters to stay airborne longer, in order to complete their missions.

This has contributed to the 328 sorties our CF-18s have conducted to date. In addition, the Auroras have conducted 91 sorties, bringing the total number of sorties flown by Canadian aircraft since the beginning of Operations IMPACT to 501 sorties.

In summary, ISIL advances into Iraq have all but ceased and we continue to see signs of progress. ISF are able to mount offensive operations to reclaim lost territory and ultimately reclaim sovereignty of their country; which is the ultimate goal of the coalition effort.

This concludes today’s briefing, and I am now available to answer your questions.


Question and answer period (not in the video)

Moderator: At this stage we will now start with questions from the floor.  Please use the two microphones on each side of the room and we will alternate between the two as required.  Please identify yourself as well as your news agency.  Please limit yourself to one question and one follow up. 

Question: Hi, same question as last week. Captain Forget, could you tell us if since last week more fire has been exchanged by Canadian soldiers on the ground in Iraq?

Captain(Navy) Forget: Since last week there has been no exchange of fire between ISIL and our special forces in the area. As I indicated in my text a few weeks ago, it is not standard for there to be exchanges of fire between our forces and ISIL.

So, like General Lou (ph) said a month ago, obviously our special ops forces spend very little time in situations involving conditions in which this could happen. So, it’s rare when this would happen.

Question: The six-month mission will soon be over. Last week you told us that you were already prepared to extend the mission. For how long? What is the extent of your preparations? Is it six months, a year or more?

Captain(Navy) Forget: The preparations I mentioned last week are that we have provided options and we are continuing to discuss the process. So in terms of duration, it’s essentially a government decision that will eventually be made. The decision could very well be an extension or a return of our forces.

Question: You, how long are you prepared to extend for?

Captain(Navy) Forget: We are prepared to support the government decisions that are made.

Moderator: At this stage we would take questions from the phone lines. Operator.

Question: Thank you.  I’m interested in why CF18’s haven’t been taking part in any air strikes considering as you mentioned there was ISIL’s seizing a town and Iraqi forces are getting ready to move on Mosul.  Why nothing in the last six, seven days?

Captain(Navy) Forget: I’ll start that answer off with we can’t really measure success by the number of strikes that our Canadian aircraft are conducting in theatre. There’s a number of coalition aircraft that are contributing to that effort.  I think I want to underline one thing is the significance of the strike that did occur last week.

This is a Canadian led strike with two other nations which destroyed a significant IED factory.  Really we need to be focused more on results here, degrading ISIL’s ability to utilize any IED’s either against the civilian population or against Iraqi security forces is nothing to be shunned upon.

Question: A supplementary question on the air strike issue. What type of coordination do you have, do you or the coalition have with Iranian forces that are supporting Iraqi security forces?

Captain(Navy) Forget: If I understand your question correctly, you’re asking me what coordination we have with Iranian forces.

Question: That’s correct.

Captain(Navy) Forget: To the best of my knowledge there is no coalition coordination with Iranian forces at this juncture.

Operator: No further questions on the phone at this time.

Moderator: Alright, if we don’t have more questions from the floor I guess this will conclude our technical briefing for today. Thank you very much for the cooperation and we’ll see you soon.

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