Operation AEGIS

Operation AEGIS (Afghanistan)

  • Operation AEGIS was the Canadian Armed Forces’ contribution to Canada’s effort to evacuate Canadian citizens and Afghans eligible for resettlement between July 30 and August 27, 2021.
  • The Canadian Armed Forces provided strategic airlift, aircraft, aircrew, and support staff who worked around the clock to help evacuate Kabul.
  • Across the region, approximately 555 Canadian Armed Forces members directly supported the evacuation efforts.
  • Alongside our Government partners and allies, we had to remain nimble and adapt to an ever-changing environment as we worked to get as many people out as possible.
  • These efforts ensured the successful evacuation of approximately 3,700 people from Kabul between 4 and 26 August, 2021, the majority of whom were transported on Canadian Armed Forces flights.

If pressed on defence relations with allies and partners:

  • Canada’s defence relations with allies and regional partners were key to ensuring the success of our evacuation efforts.
  • For instance, thanks to our close working relationship with Kuwait, the Canadian Armed Forces were able to support the evacuation of eligible Canadian citizens and Afghans from Kabul.
  • The evacuation “air bridge” also required close coordination with the U.S. and 13 coalition partners to ensure that the maximum number of planes were able to depart from the airport in Kabul.

If pressed on cooperation with NGOs and veterans’ groups:

  • National Defence leveraged networks of veterans’ groups and NGOs to help identify the Special Immigration Measures (SIM) applicants who had assisted Canadian Armed Forces’ operations in Afghanistan.
  • These applicants were then referred to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada for an eligibility review under the SIM program.

Key Facts

  • Operation AEGIS:
    • Start: July 30, 2021
    • Evacuation flights: August 4 – 26, 2021
      • 15 CAF flights and two chartered civilian flights
    • End: August 27, 2021
  • Evacuees:
    • Canada helped evacuate approximately 3,700 individuals
    • Approximately 1,524 evacuees identified as female
  • Personnel deployed: Approximately 555 Canadian Armed Forces members supported the evacuation, including:
    • 305 members deployed from Canada to the region.
    • 250 members already deployed on Op IMPACT and Op FOUNDATION, reassigned to support evacuation efforts.
  • NATO Operation ALLIED SOLACE: Canada supported NATO efforts to evacuate over 1,000 NATO-affiliated Afghan contractors and their families out of Kuwait and Qatar. This commitment ended in February 2022.


Operation AEGIS

  • Operation AEGIS was the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) contribution to the Government of Canada’s effort to evacuate Canadian citizens, permanent residents, and Afghans accepted for resettlement by the Government of Canada, and their accompanying family members.
  • As a referral partner for the Special Immigration Measures (SIM) program, National Defence supports Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) by validating whether an Afghan applicant worked alongside the Canadian Armed Forces. Once validated, National Defence refers the applicant to IRCC for eligibility review. IRCC retains full authority to accept or deny a referral submitted by National Defence.
  • The Canadian Armed Forces provided capabilities such as personnel and equipment to evacuate the Canadian Embassy — Kabul, Canadian citizens and permanent residents, and eligible Afghans identified by IRCC.


  • In August 2021, NATO stood up Operation ALLIED SOLACE to airlift over 1,000 NATO-affiliated Afghan contractors and their immediate families from Kuwait and Qatar to temporary camps in Kosovo and Poland. Canada’s commitment to Operation ALLIED SOLACE ended in February 2022.
  • Canada resettled 472 NATO-Affiliated Afghan contractors, inclusive of their families, from the camp in Kosovo.
  • The CAF has deployed four Afghan-Canadian members to Camp Bechtel, Kosovo, to serve as interpreters and help resettle NATO-Affiliated Afghans and their immediate families in Allied countries, including Canada.


  • 27 July 2021: The Canadian Armed Forces received a joint request for assistance from Global Affairs Canada (GAC) and IRCC to support the evacuation of the Canadian Embassy – Kabul, Canadian citizens and permanent residents, as well as Afghan nationals eligible for resettlement under IRCC’s new SIM Program.
  • 30 July 2021: The Canadian Armed Forces received approval to deploy to Afghanistan to support the evacuation from Kabul of the Canadian Embassy and those Afghans, and their family members, eligible under the SIM.
  • 4 August 2021: Canadian Armed Forces aircraft (including CC-130J Hercules, CC-150 Polaris, and CC-177 Globemaster) and flights chartered by the Government of Canada started transporting evacuees out of Afghanistan from Kabul.
  • 15 August 2021: the Canadian Armed Forces evacuated the remaining personnel from the Embassy of Canada to Afghanistan.
  • 15 August: Taliban seized Kabul – fall of the Government of the Islamic State of Afghanistan.
  • Between 31 July and 15 August: Canadian Armed Forces facilitated the evacuation of approximately 850 persons.
  • 19 August 2021: The Canadian Armed Forces commenced its participation in the United States-led coalition air bridge in support of broader efforts by Allies and partners to evacuate at-risk Afghans, Canadian citizens, and Permanent Residents from Kabul.
  • Between 19 August to 26 August 2021: Canadian Armed Forces assets facilitated the evacuation of approximately 2,700 persons, representing approximately 75% of Canada’s Whole-of-Government effort for this evacuation operation.
  • 26 August 2021: The Canadian Armed Forces assets ceased evacuation operations and initiated retrograde operations in Kabul.
  • 27 August: Last Canadian Armed Forces assets left Kabul.
  • 30 August 2021: The U.S. completed its withdrawal from Afghanistan, bringing an end to its 20-year presence in the country.
  • 4 October 2021: The Canadian Armed Forces deployed three translators to Camp Bechtel in Kosovo in support of NATO’s Operation ALLIED SOLACE. The Canadian Armed Forces members assisted those NATO-Affiliated Afghans temporarily sheltered at Camp Bechtel.
  • 28 February 2022: Canada’s commitment to Operation ALLIED SOLACE ended, and the Canadian Armed Forces interpreters were re-deployed back to Canada.

Evacuation Planning

  • When indications of a deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan became known in spring 2021, the Canadian Armed Forces ramped up cooperation with Allies and regional partners.
  • For example, the Canadian Armed Forces exchanged intelligence assessments with Allies, and coordinated Canadian embassy evacuation plans with other embassies’ security staff.
  • In the lead up to and during Op AEGIS – including throughout 2020 and 2021 – Canadian Forces Intelligence Command provided regular briefings to senior leaders within the Defence Team on the situation in Afghanistan.
  • March 2021: GAC submitted a Request for Assistance to National Defence, seeking help formalizing evacuation plans for the Canadian Embassy in Kabul.
  • 14 April 2021: The Biden Administration announces that it will withdraw US troops from Afghanistan by September 11, 2021.
  • 24 April: The Canadian Armed Forces deployed a planning team to Kabul to assist GAC in planning related to the rapid evacuation of Canadian Embassy in Kabul.
  • 30 June 2021: The Taliban gained control of more territory than at any point since 2001.

Whole of Government Effort

  • Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada: Responsible for determining eligibility for Afghan individuals with a significant and/or enduring connection to Canada to immigrate, including review and processing of applications to its SIM program.
  • Global Affairs Canada: Responsible for Embassy staff and providing the names of its Locally Engaged Staff to IRCC. Also assisted evacuation efforts by chartering two evacuation flights.
  • National Defence: Responsible for assisting with evacuation efforts through the provision of security and airlift capabilities. Also responsible for validating that Afghans applying for immigration to Canada under IRCC’s SIM program had an employment relationship with DND/CAF.

Flight Capacity

  • The Canadian Armed Forces worked tirelessly, alongside Allies and partners, to safely evacuate as many people as possible from Kabul.
  • As part of the multi-national air bridge, Canada was guaranteed only one landing time each day.
  • These efforts facilitated the successful air evacuation of 3,700 people from Kabul between 4 and 26 August, 2021.
  • When determining how many passengers to load onto an aircraft, our aircrew took into consideration several different factors to ensure that planes could safely reach their destination.
  • For example, weather, fuel, cargo, and weight considerations were different for each type of aircraft and for each trip.
  • The extremely strict airport schedule set by the host country was also a major factor in determining flight capacity, as planes were continuously landing and departing, leaving very little time to load passengers.
  • Our aircraft were configured to carry the maximum number of people, and we updated this configuration to accommodate additional people whenever possible.
  • To maximize the number of people evacuated, we coordinated closely with our Allied partners to fill aircraft rapidly and to optimize the number of planes that could land at Kabul’s airport.

Key Facts

  • Factors governing the number of passengers loaded during evacuation operations in Kabul:
    • the number of eligible evacuees present and able to board the flight in the brief window available;
    • the aircrafts’ performance;
    • passenger capacity in the aircraft;
    • fuel and weight considerations; and
    • air density and weather conditions.
  • Strategic Lift Aircraft deployed:
    • CC-130J Hercules;
    • CC-150 Polaris; and
    • CC-177 Globemaster.

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