Operation FOUNDATION is the Canadian Armed Forces’ (CAF) contribution to multinational counter-terrorism efforts in the Middle East, North Africa and Southwest Asia.

The Task Force

The task force deployed on Operation FOUNDATION includes about 16 CAF members serving with the following organizations:

  • U.S. Central Command (USCENTCOM) in Tampa;
  • U.S. Air Forces Central (AFCENT) in Qatar;
  • U.S. Naval Forces Central (US NAVCENT) in Bahrain;
  • Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) in Bahrain; and
  • U.S. Army Central (USARCENT) Combined Joint Operations Centre in Jordan.

The CAF members work as members of the staff while also providing liaison between the host headquarters and the Canadian Armed Forces. The CAF members serving with AFCENT in Qatar are assigned to the Combined Aerospace Operations Centre (CAOC) and other AFCENT aerospace control facilities.

In December 2016, the Canadian Armed Forces deployed the Unclassified Remote-sensing Situational Awareness (URSA) system to Bahrain under Operation FOUNDATION. This marked the first time this state-of-the-art satellite-based technology was being used by the CAF on operations. It contributes to greater maritime situational awareness by enhancing the recognized maritime picture in the areas of interest for deployed commanders. The system is directly supporting Operation ARTEMIS by sharing Near Real-Time Ship Detection (NRTSD) information with the Combined Maritime Forces and the United States Naval Command Central. This enhanced maritime surveillance capability will enhance security and stability in the international waters of the Middle East region.

Mission context


One of six geographic combatant commands of the United States Department of Defense, USCENTCOM is responsible for the “central” area of the world, between United States European Command (USEUCOM) to the north and west, USAFRICOM to the west and south, and United States Pacific Command (USPACOM) to the east.

The USCENTCOM area of responsibility comprises some 4.6 million square miles and 20 countries, extending from the western border of Egypt to the eastern border of Pakistan, and from the northern border of Kazakhstan to the Arabian Sea.

Deployed operational units serving in the USCENTCOM area of responsibility report directly to one of the following “service component” commands:

  • U.S. Army Forces Central (ARCENT);
  • U.S. Air Forces Central (AFCENT);
  • U.S. Marine Forces Central (MARCENT);
  • U.S. Naval Forces Central (NAVCENT); and
  • U.S. Special Operations Central (SOCCENT).

USCENTCOM Headquarters is located at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida.

U.S. Air Forces Central

As the air component of USCENTCOM, AFCENT is responsible for the conduct of unilateral and coalition air operations and the development of contingency plans in the USCENTCOM area of responsibility. AFCENT has its headquarters in Qatar.

U.S. Naval Forces Central and Combined Maritime Forces

CMF is the 31-nation naval coalition that promotes security and stability in the international waters of the Middle East. Headquartered in Bahrain, CMF is commanded by the U.S. Navy vice-admiral who is also the commander of U.S. NAVCENT and the United States Fifth Fleet, both also headquartered in Bahrain.

CMF was formed in February 2002 as the coalition headquarters responsible for coordinating and leading naval participation in the international campaign against terrorism. In 2008, its mandate expanded to include counter-piracy in response to the rising incidence of attacks on merchant shipping in the USCENTCOM area of responsibility.

CMF has three operational flotillas, called Combined Task Forces:

  • CTF 150, responsible for maritime security and counter-terrorism;
  • CTF 151, responsible for counter-piracy; and
  • CTF 152, responsible for security and cooperation in the Persian Gulf.

Canadian warships have operated with CTF 150 since 2004 under Operation ALTAIR (2004 to 2009), Operation SAIPH (2009 to 2010) and Operation ARTEMIS (since April 2012).


USAFRICOM, another of the six United States Department of Defense geographic combatant commands, is responsible to the Secretary of Defense for military relations with African nations, the African Union, and African regional security organizations. USAFRICOM’s area of responsibility includes the continent of Africa, its island nations, and surrounding waters.

USAFRICOM’s subordinate commands perform planning, provide command and control, establish and sustain relationships with partners, and provide timely assessments. They are:

  • U.S. Army Africa (USARAF);
  • U.S. Naval Forces Africa (NAVAF);
  • U.S. Air Forces Africa (AFAFRICA);
  • U.S. Marine Corps Forces Africa (MARFORAF);
  • Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA); and
  • U.S Special Operations Command Africa (SOCAFRICA)

The headquarters for USAFRICOM is located at the Kelley Barracks in Stuttgart-Moehringen, Germany.

Canada and USCENTCOM

Origins of Operation FOUNDATION

The roots of Operation FOUNDATION lie in Canada’s first military contribution to the international campaign against terrorism. Operation APOLLO (October 2001 to December 2003) was a major joint operation in which Canada deployed a substantial naval task group and three air detachments to the Arabian Sea–Persian Gulf region and a battle group to Afghanistan. All these forces — collectively known as Joint Task Force South West Asia — were commanded and controlled from a headquarters deployed at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida, where it was co-located with USCENTCOM Headquarters.

When Operation APOLLO concluded in December 2003, Canada’s engagement in the USCENTCOM area of responsibility was growing in both size and complexity. Consequently, when the headquarters of Joint Task Force South West Asia stood down on August 16, 2003, Operation FOUNDATION began with a liaison team tasked with maintaining the cooperative relationship between USCENTCOM and the Canadian Armed Forces.

Canadian Armed Forces operations in the USCENTCOM area of responsibility

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