Operation IMPACT - Technical briefing 4 November 2014

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Video / November 4, 2014

Transcription

Lieutenant-General Jon Vance, Commander Canadian Joint Operations Command

Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Today I will provide you with an update on Operation IMPACT – the Canadian Armed Forces contribution to the Middle East Stabilization Force. Specifically, I will discuss: an update on the current situation on ISIL’s disposition, activities and capabilities; coalition airstrikes and activities to date; our military elements in theatre; and the status of our air operations.

ISIL remains a threat to Iraq, the region and by extension, Canada.

ISIL’s sphere of influence includes areas in Syria and stretches into Irak along the two lines of communication from Syria that follow the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers to Baghdad. ISIL’s intent to capture Baghdad remains an objective. We can expect that they will continue to try and take and hold terrain as well as conduct suicide and asymmetric attacks along their lines of communication.

In northern Syria, they maintain pressure on Kobani where recently additional Kurdish fighters joined the battle to repel ISIL from the city and its environments. Their efforts, supported by coalition aircraft flying in Syria have resulted in heavy ISIL casualties.

Elsewhere, ISIL has extended its positions along their lines of communication from Syria and are now facing the prospect of being overextended. They are at constant risk of being hit by coalition airstrikes and are facing focused Iraqi offensive action.

Since September, the coalition has conducted hundreds of air strikes to degrade and contribute to the defeat of ISIL. Some gains have been made by Iraqi and Kurdish security forces on the ground in specific areas where pressure is being applied by those forces. In northern and central Iraq, near Mosul, the Kurdish security forces supported by coalition air strikes regained control of the town of Zumar and surrounding villages from ISIL. Near Baghdad, Iraqi security forces, supported by Shia militias, retook the town of al-Sakhar and its surrounding villages.

Iraqi security forces have prevented further territorial gains by ISIL in other areas and have conducted offensive operations in Bayji and southeast of Fallujah. The joint actions of the Iraqi security forces supported by coalition efforts have been very effective so far in supporting Iraqi security forces’ efforts.

Our forces are now operating as part of a Middle East Stabilization Force, and as directed by the Government of Canada, are taking action to protect vulnerable populations, enable Iraqi-led military actions against ISIL, build regional security capacity and support coalition efforts to degrade, disrupt and ultimately defeat ISIL.

While the coalition is actively targeting ISIL and supporting the Iraqi security forces, capabilities from contributing nations are also being integrated into the coalition, including our Canadian air assets.

Since my last briefing, we sent our theatre activation team to establish the force lay-down with all support necessary to receive our personnel and begin conducting operations. An air bridge was successfully established and facilitated the deployment of our personnel and resources. As it stands, we have about 600 Canadian Armed Forces members in theatre supporting air operations and advise and assist operations.

Our Canadian Joint Task Force Iraq Commander Colonel Dan Constable is in place along with his headquarters. As of 28 October, all of our air assets arrived in theatre: six CF-188 Hornet fighters, one CC-150 Polaris tanker and two CP-140 Aurora surveillance aircraft. Acclimatization and integration with coalition forces is complete, and we have commenced operations.

We are actively involved in the command and control structure of the coalition. We are fully synchronized in the decision-making process and our task force remains under full national command.

Our personnel are doing an incredible job and we have all the support mechanisms in place to sustain our operations. As such, we have started conducting air operations.

As of today, we have flown 27 sorties. Our fighters have conducted 18 sorties. Our tanker aircraft has been employed in its refuelling role four times in support of our fighters and other coalition aircraft delivering some 208,000 pounds of fuel in the process. Our surveillance aircraft have conducted five reconnaissance missions in the area of operations while our C-17s have supported theatre build-up and resupply.

On 30 October 2014, last Thursday, two CF-188 Hornets flew for six hours west of Baghdad. One CP-140 Aurora flew a six-hour intelligence gathering mission over northwestern Iraq which helped the coalition develop a better understanding of the battle space. The CC-150 Polaris flew an approximate six-hour refueling mission. This first refueling mission resulted in almost 50,000 pounds of fuel being delivered to coalition aircraft.

On 31 October, one Aurora conducted intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations, which directly supported multiple coalition fighter aircraft strikes of ISIL targets in the vicinity of Al-Qa’im. The strike resulted in the destruction of a key ISIL base that was used to stage operations from the border area onto the Euphrates line of communications. The Aurora was the platform lead for this mission and provided important battle damage assessments to evaluate the success of the strikes.

On the 2nd of November, on Sunday, CF-18 Hornets conducted Canada’s first combat air strike on ISIL targets. The four targets were located near a dam west of Fallujah and consisted of heavy engineering equipment and vehicles. They were being used to divert water from the Euphrates River to create flooding and displace the population in Anbar province while also denying water to other populations downstream. By flooding certain areas, ISIL forced civilians and Iraqi security force members to use specific roads where they had placed improvised explosive devices, or IEDs.

Additionally, the heavy engineering vehicles were being used to develop and enhance their defensive positions, which would have made future clearing operations for the Iraqi security forces more difficult.

You’ll see in the image behind me, ISIL was using the heavy engineering equipment to interfere with the flow of the dam. Our forces worked with the Combined Air Operations Centre, the CAOC, and coalition targeting assets during the approximate four-hour flight.

Five-hundred pound laser-guided bombs destroyed and damaged the heavy engineering equipment and vehicles identified and removed them from further employment. The destruction of ISIL’s equipment in this case means that they will not be able to use the Euphrates River against the population in Anbar province. The attacks also assured the removal of heavy equipment necessary to develop those defensive positions I told you about.

If you will turn your attention now to the monitors, we have a very short clip of one of the targets being hit by our CF-188 aircraft.

[Video clip]

The use of airpower contributes to the destruction of ISIL infrastructure and equipment, denying them the military means to attack. It causes ISIL casualties and disrupts their operations. It slows their ability to maneuver, and it contributes directly to the efforts of Iraqi security forces on the ground.

Let me remind you that the ultimate goal of the coalition is to support Iraqi security forces in re-establishing regional security. As part of the coalition, we are supporting those efforts by degrading and defeating ISIL.

Within the coalition, we are supporting efforts to degrade and destroy ISIL. Airstrikes alone will not defeat ISIL. This is well known. They contribute to a military offensive capacity that, combined with ground maneuver, will result in ISIL defeat in Iraq. The fight against ISIL in Iraq will be led by the Iraqis themselves, and that is why we are actively supporting them.

Thank you.


Question and answer period (not in the video)

Moderator: Merci, mon général. We will now start with questions from the floor. Monsieur.

Question: [Translation] Raymond Filion from TVA. Would it be possible for you to explain or tell us how many bombs exactly were dropped by Canadian CF-18s and explain it in French exactly? What was the objective and what was done during this four-hour operation last Sunday?

LGen Jonathan Vance: You mean the last attack?

Question: Yes, on Sunday, the one that you summarized in English. If you could just summarize what was done and how many bombs were dropped by the CF-18s?

LGen Vance: I’m not going to describe exactly how many bombs, but I can give you the impact of that on the ground. The effect was the destruction of engineering equipment on the ground. [End translation]

In English, I’m not going to describe the number of bombs dropped for any particular target. I will describe to you the target effects as a result of the bombs dropped.

Question: [Translation] As a follow-up question, can you tell us why you don’t want to say the number, the specific number of bombs that were dropped? And we also hear that ISIL have weapons, antiaircraft weapons. Can you tell us if that is the case and what danger they do represent?

LGen Vance: They have weapons, antiaircraft weapons, but they haven’t used them yet up until now. And we have the capacity on our aircraft to protect our aircraft and pilots against antiaircraft weapons. Thank you. [End translation]

Question: The targeting information that you’re using against these ISIL targets, is this information coming from CF personnel or is it coming from ground personnel?

LGen Vance: It comes from a combination of sources, so we take into account intelligence that is gained by electro optical means, by all source intelligence, other types of intelligence, and we confirm the target. As you saw with the CP-140, we confirm the target location and the actual nature of the target, usually by these visual images and then they are researched thereafter to ensure that they have no – you know, the nature of collateral damage if there was any if it’s possible or any civilians present.

Question: And then just as a follow-up, in terms of any observers that are there, I’ve seen that there is no international observers and also no observers from the Iraqi government. Is that true? Are there any observers in Iraq that you’re aware of?

LGen Vance: Well, the Iraqi Army is present in Iraq as are their security forces. Iraqis themselves are in the country. There are coalition members from various nations who are on the ground. In an observer capacity, do you mean in terms of observing the target results? Is that what you mean, the target results? The target results in terms of our battle damage assessment can be achieved by many means, by many ways, one of which is through the use of our Aurora. As we showed you, we can determine exactly what happened. And the Iraqi population clearly is still present, as in many places is the Iraqi Army.

Question: Thank you.

Moderator: Thank you. Could you identify yourself and your news entity? Monsieur.

Question: Lee Berthiaume from The Ottawa Citizen. Thanks for talking to us today. I was wondering if you could provide us with how much the total Canadian military commitment, our mission to date has cost, both in incremental and full terms and if you could provide us with an estimate for the six-month commitment that we have made, again, in incremental and full terms?

LGen Vance: Yeah. Thank you for the question. We’re going to provide the total cost of this mission through appropriate channels when we know it. At this stage, we’ve provided an estimate of operations over the course of six months and have submitted that. And so I’m not prepared to talk about it today.

Question: Then could you perhaps run through the number of hours that each of the different aircraft have flown during the course of their involvement in Operation Impact?

LGen Vance: I don’t have the number of hours flown by each aircraft type in this operation thus far. I’m working on sorties and the effects into the – into the campaign, and so I suspect we can probably find that information out for you, but I don’t have that information at my disposal.

Question: I just ask because you’ve provided it for some of the sorties, but not all of them, so.

LGen Vance: Yeah, the mission type, but the overall number of hours including transition to – you know, flight to the mission area and so on, I mean I don’t know. And there’s also the hours to get there. And so I don’t have the exact figures at my disposal today.

Moderator: Thank you.

Question: Hi, sir. Vassy with Global News. Just wondering if there’d been any issues or concerns with the performance of equipment so far, of Canadian equipment or Canadian aircraft so far.

LGen Vance: No – no issues whatsoever. The F-18, recently upgraded, is a superb aircraft doing exactly what it was intended to do. We have exactly the right weaponry, the bombs in both natures, precision – you know, precision-guided natures, GPS and laser-guided. And we have the right mix in the right numbers. The tanker is doing brilliant work as is the Aurora. A newly-upgraded Block 3, as we call it, Aurora with tremendous electro optical sensors on it. And the venerable C-17, you know, getting us into theatre and doing the theatre build-up has done tremendously well. So across the board we’re very satisfied.

Question: And a couple of minutes ago, you talked about collateral damage. I might have missed this earlier, but in the strikes that happened, the combat strikes that happened on Sunday, was there collateral damage? Were there any human casualties?

LGen Vance: There was no collateral damage.

Question: Oh, it’s just me, is it? Justin Ling. I’m freelance. Can you tell me if there’s any signals intelligence that’s helping to inform your decision-making in the area — i.e. CSEC or other channels?

LGen Vance: You can imagine I’m not going to go into detail on something as sensitive as that, but we use all forms of intelligence at our disposal to try and understand both the battle space and the particular target that we wish to – wish to strike.

Question: And you told us there was five missions that the Aurora flew thus far. One of them evidently was the one on the Euphrates. Can you tell us what the other four were or is it two – you know, was it all part of that same mission?

LGen Vance: The aircraft are vectored into areas determined day by day as to where a weight of effort will go, and that weight of effort can be based on where Iraqi security forces are on the offensive or where there has been intelligence that would indicate that we need to pay particular attention to an area. And so the aircraft are moved into that area. So the Aurora have worked throughout Iraqi airspace to this point in time.

Question: Thanks.

LGen Vance: You’re welcome.

Question: Hi. Good afternoon. It’s Bruce Campion Smith, The Toronto Star. Just wondering if you can give a sense of the daily tempo for all the aircraft involved in the mission. Are the CF-18s flying every day or does it just depend on the operation?

LGen Vance: Yes, at this stage, we’re flying virtually every day with all aircraft types. There will be gaps put in there for maintenance and, you know, to be able to turn the aircraft. We are capable of flying two aircraft twice on any given day and there’s a natural pause built in to allow the aircraft to be maintained and get back into it.

Question: When we were here for your last briefing, there was a discussion about sort of next steps and discussions ongoing about an advisor force to come in and help train up the Iraqi and Kurdish ground forces. Has there been any more progress on that?

LGen Vance: Well, you know, we have our own train, advise and assist force on the ground through Canadian Special Forces Command working up in Erbil and they’re working very well and doing tremendous work with their partnered force. The coalition is working hard at putting together with nations the – both the capacity to conduct the training, the necessary training and reequipping of the Iraqi security forces in advance of future operations as well as sourcing train, advise and assist teams that would be able to support them in the fight. So that is ongoing.

Question: Hi. Good afternoon. Thank you very much for doing this. Kim Mackrael from The Globe and Mail. My question is just regarding the earlier question about any collateral damage. I just want to clarify, when you say no collateral damage, are you referring specifically to civilians who might have been involved or is it possible that members of the Islamic State were – were killed in that – in those strikes?

LGen Vance: Members of ISIL who are hit as a result of a strike would not be considered collateral damage. Their fair targets as combatants. If – so it would be a civilian who was an unintended target, unintended casualty or infrastructure that was unintended. And in all cases, we do the very best we can to make the parameters of the attack, the nature of the weapon used, the angle of the attack, all the factors that contribute to the destruction on the ground, do everything we can to limit – and indeed our objective is to prevent any collateral damage whatsoever, including unintended civilian casualties, period.

Question: And were any ISIL combatants killed in this operation?

LGen Vance: I’ll tell you what, the rules of engagement that I’m going to use in terms of combatant casualties is I’m not going to stand before you and tie one aircraft strike to one set of casualties created. We will give you a sense, as I did, in terms of how ISIL is faring, but I – and I will, where we can, offer you indications of the broad effects that we’re having. But you know, in the case of individual strikes, I’m not going to be announcing casualties taken by ISIL.

Question: Thank you.

LGen Vance: You’re welcome.

Question: Thank you, General. Terry Milewski from CBC. I have a couple of related questions about Sunday’s bombing. First, I’d like you to go into a little bit more detail, if you can, on exactly what they were trying to achieve. I mean just from a quick glance at the video, it seems like a pretty big river. Was it even practical to suggest that they could deny water downstream, as you did suggest? It seems hardly likely on the face of it, just looking at the pictures, that a few – you know, you could divert some of the river, perhaps, but hardly enough to deny the water downstream.

And second of all, if they’re doing this and the coalition has been flying missions against them since September, it seems a little bit crazy of them to be doing that, frankly. I mean they’re going to get hit, aren’t they? I mean you’re hitting every – judging by the list that the Pentagon put out today, you’re hitting anything that moves. So doesn’t it sound a little crazy?

LGen Vance: Well, that’s a difficult question to answer. Do you want to rephrase that?

Question: How about a lot crazy?

LGen Vance: They had the capacity to both deal with the dam in place and the earthen dam right beside it. And what they had done is the spillway beside the dam, they could close the dam and they closed the spillway, which caused a backup upstream that went down different water courses where it wasn’t intended and thereby causing flooding where, you know – which has caused problems for the population, caused the population to move. Again, just another one of these tactics used to – you know, to – that ISIL has used against the population.

Clearly, the river wasn’t entirely diverted, but they were trying. They were interfering with the water course. As importantly, they were using that equipment to deliver defensive positions in that area.

And so again, this is but one of the – to go to your second point, and I’m not sure it was a question, but to go to your second point —

Question: It was questioning.

LGen Vance: — the – you have to look at this broadly and over time. The coalition aircraft are not everywhere all the time. And the targeting is quite deliberate, even when it’s in a sort of a dynamic setting. It’s very precise. General Austin, Commander of CENTCOM has been heard to say that this will be the most accurate war ever. And what is intended here, as you look on a day by day, week by week, month by month basis, as the cumulative effect of these targets that will contribute to – or the servicing of these targets, the attacks from the air that will ultimately allow for Iraqi forces to transition into offensive operations to support them. The degradation of ISIL, whether it’s through denying its equipment, such as engineering equipment, is very important. You know, if we are denied our engineering equipment and we’re trying to defend, it’s very difficult on us. So to deny them equipment, to deny them the ability to do what they want to do to bring harm or inconvenience, even, to the population and indeed to cause casualties all makes it more difficult for them to operate.

Question: And just to follow up, you don’t mean that that would have effectively have flooded Fallujah, but just the surrounding villages outside —

LGen Vance: Right.

Question: — any idea what kind of population we’re talking about.

LGen Vance: I don’t have the numbers at my disposal right now.

Question: All right. Thank you.

Moderator: We will now proceed on to the phone. Do we have any questions on the phone?

Operator: Ladies and gentlemen, please press star, 1 for your questions. And your first question comes from Martin Bégin of CBC. Please go ahead.

Question: [Translation] Good afternoon. Thanks for doing this. I’d like to know what did you destroy exactly and how can you be sure that there was no collateral damage?

LGen Vance: Well, we destroyed a group of engineering equipment, heavy equipment, which ISIL used to maintain their defensive position.

Question: And what about the collateral damage?

LGen Vance: Could you repeat your question?

Question: Well, the second part of my question I asked how can you be sure that there was no collateral damage?

LGen Vance: No collateral damage? Well, perhaps you saw that we did a battle damage assessment, a study after the attack with ISR, which can determine whether a civilian or a person or an infrastructure was attacked by accident.

Question: And the second thing I’d like to know is you say that the ultimate goal is to support the Iraqi forces to reestablish national security. In your opinion, how much time will that require still to manage that?

LGen Vance: To reestablish global security?

Question: Yes. National, security, yes.

LGen Vance: Honestly, I don’t have a good answer for that. We’re reacting to an emergency situation. Detailed planning for the campaign is underway. Now in terms of estimates, we’re looking at actions to rehabilitate the Iraqi Army. That should take six months to perhaps one year, but it’s absolutely certain that the Iraqi forces want to begin their offensive operations as soon as they can. Thank you. [End translation]

Moderator: Do we have another question?

Operator: Your next question is from James Cudmore, CBC.

Question: Hi, General Vance. How are you today?

LGen Vance: Fine, thank you, James. How are you?

Question: Fine, thanks. Listen, I’m wondering about these vehicles that were hit. Were they – were they being used? Were they operational at the time that they were hit? I know you don’t want to talk about casualties, but I guess what I want to talk about is whether or not you are accurately able to ascertain that the people who are using these vehicles, if in fact they were being used, were ISIL guys as opposed to guys who were being forced by ISIL to do their work. I understand that heavy equipment requires some skill to operate. That’s why I raise it.

LGen Vance: Right. So we are certain that the vehicles were static when they were struck, and we are certain that they had been being used repeatedly by ISIL.

Question: All right, thanks for that. Thanks for clarifying that. And it leads to my second question, which has to do with this targeting piece. As you’re dealing with a force that doesn’t wear a uniform frequently, or at least it wears a similar uniform to the people you’re supporting, I’m wondering how much more complicated the targeting piece is, particularly considering Canadian eyes are not on the ground where, for instance, in Fallujah, we’re operating. How are we making double, triple, quadruple sure that there are no civilian casualties. As you said, preventing that was job one.

LGen Vance: Okay. As I described in the first press conference, there’s a fairly elaborate, very precise process that is targeting that we go through. And as a target is nominated, it is investigated through every intelligence means possible to ensure that it is what it is, that it is in fact a legal target, if you will. And the coalition maintains eyes on to the extent necessary to determine that it remains a target that would be free of collateral damage such as it was first nominated.

And so I think that we have a good – very good process in place that ensures that there is sufficient understanding of the target and moreover sufficient over watch of the target prior to it being attacked and then there is that final act of the actual pilot – him or herself that determines that the target is still as it was when briefed.

Moderator: Thank you. Do we have one more question from the phone?

Operator: Your next question comes from David Pugliese from Ottawa Citizen newspaper.

Question: Yes. Hi, General. I was wondering if you could explain your reasoning why you’re not releasing the cost of this mission so far in that your American counterparts have been quite open on what this campaign is costing the U.S. taxpayer.

LGen Vance: Right. Well, we have channels through which we release the costs of the mission. We have provided through the appropriate channels to the government the estimate of this mission. And as the mission terminates and we’re able to determine what all the costs were, that will be provided.

Question: Yeah, I know that’s the talking point you’ve been given to recite, but it doesn’t really answer the reasoning behind this.

LGen Vance: Yeah, well, I don’t think, David, it’s my job necessarily to tell you what the reasoning behind it is. I’m telling you, you know, how we’re going to do it.

Question: Okay. So taxpayers just, what, are kept in the dark, is that it?

LGen Vance: I think the taxpayers will be informed once we have the cost of the mission, once we know what the costs of the mission are at the appropriate intervals as determined by government who wish to – when they wish to release information to the Canadian public, we will contribute to the understanding and the – what the costs were.

Question: Do you see that as being accountable?

LGen Vance: Indeed, I do.

Question: Okay. Thank you.

Operator: Your next question comes from Saša Petricic from CBC. Please go ahead.

Question: Yes. Hello, General. First question, I’m wondering whether the target on Sunday was that considered a fixed target or was that a dynamic target? And what it in – like in terms of it being – if it was a dynamic target, I mean were there any – was this in support of any Iraqi forces on the ground?

LGen Vance: This was – this was not in support any Iraqi forces that were assaulting in that location. Ultimately, in the broadest sense, it was in support of Iraqi forces in later operations and in support of Iraq itself. Did I – did I answer all your questions?

Question: Yeah. Was it a fixed – is that considered an example of a fixed target or is that – was that a dynamic target?

LGen Vance: It was a static target that was undertaken through a dynamic process.

Question: Okay. And my second question, I know that the mandate here is within Iraq, but there are some pretty significant things that are going on connected to ISIL, which are very hard to separate that are going on in Syria. Has there been any discussion or thought of expanding or has there been any request that Canada expand its mission to include anything on the other side of that border, further up the Euphrates or wherever?

LGen Vance: Thank you. There’s been no such request made of Canada to participate in operations in Syria. Clearly, the coalition is operating throughout the length and breadth of where ISIL exists, but at this stage there’s no particular ask of Canada.

Question: Thank you.

Moderator: Thank you. We’ll now go to the floor.

Question: Michelle Zilio with iPolitics. Just as a follow-up to that question on Syria, that was the question I was going to ask you. So following up to that, you say there hasn’t been a request, but you’re obviously watching what’s going on in Syria, especially in Kobani, right on the – you know, the border of our NATO partner Turkey. What’s your reaction to ISIL’s involvement in that country, Syria?

LGen Vance: Syria is where ISIL started and Syria is where they gained a great deal of their strength and their capacity to operate. And so I think it’s wise that the coalition conduct operations from the air in support of the defenders of Kobani and elsewhere against ISIL targets. And I think the coalition approach right now is to be able to deal appropriately with the reestablishment of Iraq and at the same time do what is absolutely necessary to bring harm and ultimately shape the ISIL threat in Syria.

Question: And yesterday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper acknowledged that the air strikes may not be enough. He didn’t make any indications of what the Canadian government is considering, if they’re considering doing anything more in this fight. What’s your reaction to, you know, his comments indicating that those strikes may not be enough to push back ISIL?

LGen Vance: I think we’ve made it clear from the beginning, in fact, all military commanders and I think all politicians in the know, like our Prime Minister is, understand fully that this conflict is not going to be solved by the – by air power alone, nor will it be solved by military power alone. I think we all understand that, and I think we’ve been pretty clear on that all along. The fact is from the military dimension air power is a support function. It’s an enabling function to what in this case will ultimately be Iraqi security forces conducting operations to reestablish their borders, their boundaries and rid themselves of ISIL. And air power is being used appropriately in that support role. I don’t think we ever claimed that it would do anything but degrade ISIL. And that’s exactly what it’s doing. That word very precisely used many times to show that air power can bring great harm both to equipment and personnel on the ISIL side such that they are less and less capable of defending against an Iraqi – ultimate Iraqi offensive.

Question: Thank you.

Moderator: Thank you. We have time for one more question.

Question: Sir, I was just wondering if you could walk us through that – the Aurora mission sortie on October 31st. What were they targeting? I notice it was also on the border with Syria. Did the Aurora at any time enter Syrian airspace?

LGen Vance: The Aurora never entered Syrian airspace. We do not have a mandate to fly or conduct any operations in Syria. Typically, emplacements and installations just inside the border from Syria on those lines of operation are used as staging areas, equipment depots, places where forces can be mustered, then – or ISIL can be mustered to then make their way down through their line of communication ultimately to do what they want to do. And so they are very important, you know, sort of depth targets to strike. And the Aurora was fundamental to understanding both the nature of the target and the nature of the battle damage assessment thereafter.

Question: And just one last question about the budget again, or the costs, I should say. The decision not to release them, would that be a political decision or is that the military – DND’s decision not to release the costs at this time, cost estimates or the costs to date.

LGen Vance: Yeah, I can tell you the decision is not mine. That is to say this press conference today is intended to tell you about the effects of the campaign, what it is we’re doing and to demonstrate to you what our F-18s have done and how we see, broadly speaking, our contribution has been thus far in the campaign. There’s a long way to go. I think the question of costs and so on is something that will be addressed when the government determines it necessary, that it has the information and will share it.

Question: So that means it’s a political decision then or – I’m just parsing out words here.

LGen Vance: You know full well that that’s kind of almost an unfair question. It’s not a political decision as far as I know. I think it’s a management decision, let’s make sure we know what the costs are before we explain what the costs were, if you know what I mean. I think that we don’t have – we’ve only been on the ground operating for a very short period of time. And so as we find out what the costs are, we’ll be reporting them. And at some point, those will be released.

Moderator: Thank you, General. This concludes our session. For access to the image or video displayed during today’s technical briefing, please visit combatcamera.forces.gc.ca and forcesimages.ca

Thank you, everyone.

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