Operation IMPACT

Operation IMPACT is the Canadian Armed Forces’ (CAF) contribution to the Middle East Stabilization Force (MESF) – the multinational coalition to halt and degrade the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

Under Operation IMPACT, the CAF conduct air operations, provide training and assistance to the Iraqi security forces, provide capacity building capabilities to regional forces, and support the coalition with highly skilled personnel.

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Canadian Armed Forces expands contribution to Global Coalition to defeat ISIL

As part of the Government of Canada’s expanded contribution to multinational efforts to degrade and defeat the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) recently added three CH-146 Griffon helicopters, an all-source intelligence centre, and additional trainers to Operation IMPACT. Learn more.

Aircraft sorties

As of 22 May 2016, Air Task Force-Iraq has conducted 2322 sorties*:

  • CC-150T Polaris aerial refueller conducted 456 sorties, delivering some 26,500,000 pounds of fuel to coalition aircraft; and
  • CP-140 Aurora aircraft conducted 488 reconnaissance missions.

Definition - sortie: in air operations, a sortie refers to an operational flight by one aircraft. A sortie starts when one aircraft takes off and ends upon landing.

*This total includes 1378 sorties conducted by CF-18 Hornets between 30 October 2014 and 15 February 2016.

Video Gallery

Through the refocused CAF efforts to the MESF, Canada is playing an important role, alongside its partners, in setting the conditions for Iraqi security forces to achieve long-term success through self-sustainable security.

The total number of CAF members deployed under Operation IMPACT is increased from approximately 650 to approximately 830, which includes tripling the size of the train, advise, and assist mission in support of the Iraqi security forces.

The CC-150 Polaris and CP-140 Aurora aircraft continue to conduct air-to-air refueling and aerial intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions in support of coalition air operations.

In accordance with Government of Canada direction, the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) ceased airstrike operations by CF-18 Hornets in Iraq and Syria on 15 February 2016.

The military engagement in Iraq and Syria under Operation IMPACT is extended until 31 March 2017.

Joint Task Force-Iraq

Joint Task Force-Iraq

The Joint Task Force-Iraq is responsible for the national command and control of Operation IMPACT personnel and operations and for the coordination of operations with the coalition headquarters.

As a part of Joint Task Force-Iraq, the CAFoperates an all-source intelligence centre, responsible for collecting, synthesizing, and analyzing information derived from a variety of sources. This intelligence is then used to inform operational planning, ultimately contributing to the protection of Coalition forces and the conduct of Coalition operations.

Additional CAF personnel with high-demand skillsets will support and enable the coalition and Iraqi security forces in the planning and execution of military operations. The additional personnel will have expertise in areas such as intelligence operations; social media exploitation; targeting; and command and control. The deployment of additional personnel will be conducted over the next weeks.

These additional personnel, including operational planners and liaison officers, will support allies at coalition centers and headquarters in the region. Through this support, Canada is playing an important role, alongside its partners, in setting the conditions for Iraqi security forces to achieve long-term success.

Air Task Force- Iraq

Air Task Force- Iraq

As part of Joint Task Force-Iraq, Air Task Force-Iraq contributes to coalition air operations against ISIL, including:

  • one CC-150 Polaris aerial refueller to support coalition air operations;
  • up to two CP-140 Aurora surveillance aircraft to contribute to coalition intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities; and
  • associated aircrew and support personnel.

These aircraft represent an important part of the Canadian contribution to the MESF.

Train, Advise and Assist

Train, Advise and Assist

The deployed CAF members are training, advising, and assisting the Iraqi security forces in developing their military skills. This will enable the Iraqi security forces to take the fight to ISIL and eventually remove the threat posed by this group in Iraq and the region.

The CAF deployed three CH-146 Griffon helicopters to enhance in-theatre tactical transport, including medical evacuations if required. The Griffons and their crews excel in the tactical transportation of troops and materiel. A variety of self-defence weapons are fitted to the aircraft for the deployment.

The addition of personnel with high-demand skillsets and the delivery of critical equipment will contribute to creating the security environment necessary to deal with the threat posed by ISIL. In order to enhance the advise and assist mission, the CAF will:

  • triple the number of CAF advisors to help train the Iraqi security forces in the planning and execution of military operations against ISIL;
  • provide equipment such as small arms, ammunition and optics to assist in the training of Iraqi security forces;
  • deploy CAF medical personnel to provide training to Iraqi security forces in the conduct of casualty management in a battlefield context as well as to provide medical support to CAF personnel and our partners.
Capacity building

Capacity building

The Canadian Armed Forces is seeking opportunities to expand military cooperation with regional partners such as Jordan and Lebanon to enhance security and stability in the region and prevent the spread of violent extremism. To that end, the CAF is seeking opportunities to:

  • augment the current capacity building program for the Jordanian Armed Forces; and
  • create a new capacity building program for the Lebanese Armed Forces.

The Canadian Armed Forces is discussing with coalition partners and consulting with the Government of Iraq regarding the provision of a team of strategic liaison personnel to further enhance security and stability in the region.

Mission Context

About ISIL

ISIL was founded in Iraq in October 2004 when the leader of Jamaat al-Tawhid wal-Jihad aligned with Al-Qaeda, creating what was then known as Al-Qaeda in Iraq. The group has also been known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the Islamic State (IS), and Daesh.

ISIL advocates radical interpretations of Islam and claims religious authority over all Muslims. It aims to create a caliphate in the Levant region – which includes Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, Lebanon, Cyprus and a part of southern Turkey – by converting or killing non-Sunni populations. Its ultimate objective is the establishment of a world-wide Islamic caliphate.

It is estimated that ISIL has between 25, 000 and 30,000 fighters in total across Iraq and Syria, of which a number are foreign recruits. The group has acquired equipment including tanks, artillery pieces and other light vehicles, mainly stolen from Iraqi and Syrian military installations.

International response

The group began taking control of territory in Iraq and Syria in 2014, starting with Fallujah in Iraq in January 2014 and culminating with the fall of Mosul in June 2014. Its rapid advance across Iraq and Syria has displaced millions of people, has undermined stability in Iraq and the region, and poses a threat to international security.

On 7 August 2014, United States President Barack Obama authorised targeted military intervention in Iraq.  A United States-led coalition that includes many of Canada’s closest allies and partners, as well as important regional partners, is working to degrade ISIL.

Milestones/ Mission Timeline

  • Between 28 August and 26 September 2014, Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) aircraft conducted 25 flights to deliver more than 1,600,000 pounds of military supplies to Iraq.
  • 28 October 2014 – All ATF-I air assets arrived in Kuwait.
  • 30 October 2014 – Two CF-188 Hornets, one CP-140 Aurora and one CC-150T Polaris conducted their first missions as part of the MESF. The two CF-188 Hornets did not conduct any airstrike during this first sortie. The successful conduct of the first ATF-I missions confirmed the integration of Canadian air assets in the MESF.
  • 2 November 2014 – CF-188 Hornets conducted Canada’s first combat airstrike on ISIL targets.
  • 30 March 2015 – The CAF mission was formally extended for as many as 12 months and expanded into Syria.
  • 8 February 2016 – The Government of Canada announced its renewed and enhanced whole-of-government approach to the fight against ISIL.
  • 8 February 2016  – The Government of Canada announced that the CAF will cease airstrike operations in Iraq and Syria by 22 February, 2016.
  • 15 February 2016 – The CAF ceased airstrike operations in Iraq and Syria.
  • 5 March 2016 – The CAF officially transitions its air support to Coalition operations.

Delivery of military supplies to Iraq

Between 28 August and 26 September 2014, Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) aircraft conducted 25 flights to deliver more than 1,600,000 pounds (725,000 kilograms) of military supplies to Iraq. The donations from allied countries included small arms, ammunition and other military equipment. The supplies were delivered in concert with military partners including the United Kingdom and the United States, to security forces working in Baghdad and Erbil.


Canada will allocate approximately $305.9 million towards the extension and refocusing of the mission. This includes $41.9 million to be allocated for redeployment of personnel and equipment in 2016-17.

External Links

Government of Canada


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