Canada transfers command of NATO Mission Iraq to Denmark

News release

November 24, 2020 – Ottawa – National Defence / Canadian Armed Forces

Today, Major-General Jennie Carignan of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), transferred command of NATO Mission Iraq (NMI) to Lieutenant-General Per Pugholm Olsen of the Danish Armed Forces, during a ceremony held in Baghdad, Iraq.

Major-General Carignan assumed command of NMI in November 2019, marking the beginning of a second year of Canadian leadership. In collaboration with Allies, partner nations and international stakeholders, NMI has helped strengthen Iraqi security forces and Iraqi military education institutions in order to prevent the return of Da’esh, and establish regional stability.

The CAF is handing over command of a well-established organization, poised for continued success. Alongside our Danish and international counterparts, Canada will continue to contribute to the advancement of the mission’s objectives, and more broadly, to the advancement of security and stability of the Middle East region. Canada’s commitment to the mission remains steadfast.


“At last month’s NATO Defence Ministers’ Meeting, I reiterated Canada’s unwavering commitment to NATO and the rules-based international order. Our leadership of NATO Mission Iraq for two consecutive years speaks to this commitment. Canadians can be proud of our command role of this mission that is helping to strengthen Iraqi Security Forces. With Denmark now leading the charge, I look forward to continue working with our Allies and Partners as part of this important NATO mission.”

The Honourable Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of National Defence

“As Commander Canadian Joint Operations Command, I am proud of the Canadian Armed Forces achievements made over the past two years while leading NATO Mission Iraq. This vital ongoing mission has benefitted from the dedicated service of the deployed women and men from Canada, NATO, and non-NATO partner nations while under Canadian command. I would like to thank Major-General Jennie Carignan for her commitment and guidance in maintaining operational excellence, particularly given the challenges of operating in the current COVID-19 environment. Major-General Carignan now transfers command to Lieutenant-General Per Pugholm Olsen of Denmark, having set the conditions for the continued success of NATO Mission Iraq.”

Lieutenant-General Christopher Coates, Commander Canadian Joint Operations Command

“During the year of my Command, I had the privilege to work with a team composed of highly skilled military and civilian advisors and mentors from NATO Alliance and partner nations, providing global expertise and best practices in security and defence sector reform, institutional development, and military education. I am very proud of the professional work Canadian Armed Forces members have put into this mission. They have proven their value by their innate understanding and respect for the local culture, which makes them especially suitable for this kind of endeavor.  Our countrymen and women are great ambassadors for Canada and the values we stand for.”

Major-General Jennie Carignan, Outgoing Commander, NATO Mission Iraq

Quick facts

  • The command of NATO Mission Iraq (NMI) called for a Canadian Armed Forces’ contribution of up to 250 personnel. This included command staff, force protection and several enablers.

  • The CAF contribution to NMI is part of Op IMPACT, for which the contribution remains at approximately up to 850 Canadian Armed Forces personnel, and following today’s change of command, 17 CAF members remain part of NMI directly. Personnel are deployed in Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Kuwait.

  • NMI is a non-combat, advisory and training mission designed to help build more effective and sustainable Iraqi defence and security institutions.

  • Major-General Dany Fortin took command of NMI in November 2018 and Major-General Jennie Carignan took over in the fall of 2019.

  • Over the past two years, under the leadership of Major-General Fortin and Major-General Carignan, along with many of the contributing nations, Canadians have played a key role in setting up the mission headquarters. This included behind-the-scenes work that enabled NMI advisors and trainers, including Canadians, to achieve mission success.

  • Due to the security situation and the COVID-19 health crisis in spring 2020, NMI had to temporarily suspend some of its training activities. Institutional-level training activities have since resumed and are ongoing.  

  • Since resuming its activities following the operational pause, NMI has increased its mentoring effort at the organizational and institutional level, focussed on the Iraqi National Security apparatus. This was conducted in a manner that consistently ensured the health and safety of NMI personnel and its regional partners.

  • Since the beginning of the pandemic, the CAF have been taking unprecedented measures to not only protect the health and well-being of its members, but to also prevent the spread of COVID-19, and preserve our ability to conduct mission-essential military operations.

  • NMI provided advice and support to the Iraqi Ministry of Defence (MoD) in the development of its Military and overall National Security strategies. This included ensuring the development of MoD strategies was conducted in alignment with Iraqi National Defence policy, promoting coherence across the Iraqi government.

  • Throughout its provision of advice, NMI strived to raise awareness of gender equality and its impact on operational effectiveness.

  • Having assumed the command of this mission for two consecutive terms is an example of Canada’s unwavering commitment to the Alliance. It also demonstrates Canada’s commitment to burden sharing with NATO Allies, and highlights Canada as a notable contributor to the NATO Alliance.

  • For more information on the CAF contribution to NMI, please visit the Operation IMPACT webpage.

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Department of National Defence
Phone: 613-904-3333

Interview opportunities

Due to a busy post-deployment schedule and to respect a much-deserved leave period, Major-General Carignan’s capacity to entertain interviews will be limited. Interview opportunities are planned to take place in the mid-March 2021 timeframe. Media representatives who are interested in an interview with Major-General Carignan can contact the Media Relations Office and requests will be consolidated. 

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