From: National Defence

Under Operation FOUNDATION the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) works with the United States and other countries to counter terrorism. The CAF has personnel located in the Middle East, North Africa and Southwest Asia as part of Operation FOUNDATION.

How many people are deployed?

There are approximately 16 CAF members deployed on Operation FOUNDATION. These personnel serve with a variety of United States headquarters:

  • 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
  • U.S. Army Central (USARCENT) Combined Joint Operations Centre in Jordan

What are they doing?

The CAF members serve as staff in the each of these host headquarters. They provide a link between the headquarters and the CAF.

The CAF members with AFCENT in Qatar serve in the Combined Aerospace Operations Centre (CAOC). They also serve in other AFCENT aerospace control units.

The CAF sent the Unclassified Remote-sensing Situational Awareness (URSA) system to Bahrain in December, 2016. It was deployed for Operation ARTEMIS as part of Operation FOUNDATION. URSA is satellite based and state of the art. It can be used to detect ships. It looks at the earth from space and provides a detailed picture to navy commanders. The CAF is sharing this information with Combined Maritime Forces and the United States Naval Command Central. This is the first time this system is being used for CAF missions. It will help make international waters safer and more secure.

History and context of the operation

Operation FOUNDATION’s roots lie in Canada’s first military contribution to the global campaign against terrorism. It began with Operation APOLLO (October 2001 to December 2003). This was a major joint operation. Canada deployed:

  • a large naval task group
  • three air detachments to the Arabian Sea–Persian Gulf region
  • a battle group to Afghanistan

These task forces were collectively known as Joint Task Force South West Asia. They were directed from a CAF headquarters set up at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida. The CAF headquarters shared a location with USCENTCOM Headquarters.

Canadian Armed Forces relationship with USCENTCOM

Operation APOLLO ended in December 2003. At that time, Canada’s operations with USCENTCOM were becoming larger and more complex. The Joint Task Force South West Asia headquarters stood down on August 16, 2003. Operation FOUNDATION began with a liaison team. It was tasked with maintaining the strong ties between the CAF and USCENTCOM.

Since that time, the CAF has conducted a number of operations in USCENTCOM’s area of responsibility. The most prominent have been Canada’s military engagements in Afghanistan, Canada’s contribution to the Global Coalition to degrade and defeat Daesh, and Canada’s support to maritime counter-terrorism operations.


USCENTCOM is United States Department of Defense command. It is one of six U.S. commands organized according to geography. It is responsible for the “central” area of the world, an area covering some 4.6 million square miles and 20 countries. It extends west to east from Egypt’s western border to Pakistan’s eastern border. From north to south, it extends from Kazakhstan’s northern border to the Arabian Sea.

Operational units deployed 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)
  • U.S. Special Operations Central (SOCCENT)

U.S. Air Forces Central

AFCENT is the air component of USCENTCOM, responsible for:

  • running independent and coalition air operations; and
  • developing contingency plans.

U.S. Naval Forces Central and Combined Maritime Forces

CMF is a 26-nation naval coalition headquartered in Bahrain. It aims to help make the international waters of the Middle East more secure and stable. A U.S. Navy vice-admiral commands CMF. The CMF Commander also commands U.S. NAVCENT and the United States Fifth Fleet. These are both also headquartered in Bahrain.

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