Operation IMPACT

From: National Defence

Operation IMPACT is part of Canada’s whole-of-government approach to the Middle East. The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) mission to build the military capabilities of Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon, and set the conditions for their long-term success. Op IMPACT complements the work of other Canadian government agencies such as Global Affairs Canada and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Op IMPACT began as the CAF support to the Global Coalition to degrade and ultimately defeat Daesh in Iraq and Syria. The coalition has been effective. Under the command of Brigadier-General Michael Wright, Op IMPACT on behalf of the CAF is continuing to work with partners in the region to set the conditions for stability and security.

Canada plays an important role in Iraq, Jordan, and Lebanon, alongside its partners. In Iraq for example, the CAF efforts in support of the Global Coalition improve Iraqi security forces’ capabilities. These efforts help Iraq to achieve long-term success in keeping its territory and people secure.


The CAF conducts multiple operations in the Middle East as part of the Government of Canada’s commitment to enhance regional stability and promote the rules-based international order.

Over the past several months, the regional security environment has shifted considerably due to the COVID-19 global pandemic.

Op IMPACT will persist, with our Joint Task Force IMPACT headquarters continuing to operate in Kuwait, and the employment of CC-130J Hercules aircraft to conduct theatre sustainment and movement continues. Our prioriry remains the safety and security of our women and men in uniform. Mitigation measures are being put in place to facilitate ongoing efforts under Op IMPACT and the continuity of our operations, where possible, in a COVID-19 environment.

Personnel on capacity-building operations in Lebanon and Jordan have remained in country and have continued to perform activities that can safely be conducted while respecting both host nation and Canadian forces protection measures.

The CAF have decided to reposition personnel and equipment that were dedicated to training from Iraq. However, NATO Mission Iraq (NMI) is currently progressively growing back to its full operational capacity, scheduled to be complete by 31 October 2020. The CAF contribution to NMI will scale down at the end of November 2020, as Canada will hand over the Lead Nation status to Denmark. On November 24, 2020, Lead Nation status was officially handed over to Denmark as Major-General Jennie Carignan of the Canadian Armed Forces, transferred command of NATO Mission Iraq to Lieutenant-General Per Pugholm Olsen of the Danish Armed Forces.

How many people are deployed?

A maximum number of 850 CAF members are approved to serve on Op IMPACT. This number includes those assigned to train, advise, and assist the mission in support of the Iraqi security forces and those supporting NATO Mission Iraq.

What are they doing?

NATO Mission Iraq is building

Within Op IMPACT, 17 members are currently deployed to Iraq in support of NATO Mission Iraq, currently led by Danish Lieutenant-General Per Pugholm Olsen.

NATO Mission Iraq (NMI) is a non-combat mission. NMI is an advising mission on institutional reforms that seek in-depth change with, for and by Iraqi Ministry of Defence and Armed Forces, contributing to build lasting security and stability.

NMI further enables Iraq Ministry of Defence (MoD) to build a military force that fulfills their strategic requirements for readiness through good governance, trusted leadership, and institutional efficiency, ensuring Iraq MoD and Armed Forces are a credible force trusted by Iraqis, capable to assert its sovereignty, and respected by its partners.

Building Security Sector Reforms

Through Security Sector Reforms (SSR), the MoD will build a force that is more efficient, trusted by the Iraqi people, and has strong leadership, with secure ties to international allies and partners.

The SSR focuses on the sound management and accountability of the defence sector consistent with the principles and practices of good governance. The objective of SSR is to achieve efficient and effective defence institutions that serve the defence interests of citizens, society, and the state, while respecting human rights and operating within the rule of law under effective democratic control.

SSR Includes Women Peace and Security

Progression of the key elements of the WPS agenda can assist the MoD achieve a strong, diverse force, more capable and ready for the fight. Women, men, girls, and boys are impacted differently by conflict. NATO Mission Iraq is committed to the inclusion of both women and men in the process of Iraqi security sector reform, leading to a strong, stable Iraq.

Building Efficiency

Efficiency will be enhanced by developing an improved training system, a concise human and material management system, and by bringing interoperability with NATO and Partners.

NMI has experts advising the MoD/Armed Forces on specialized programs to improve and enhance the force development through rationalization, readiness, re-basing; the management systems, more specifically the training, human, material, intelligence, and logistics management systems, the interoperability, and the budgeting.

Building Defence Capacity

Defence Capacity Building includes various support ranging from strategic advice on defence sector reform and institution building Professional Military Education.

Readiness: Readiness is the alignment of MoD/Armed Forces strategic requirements with the operational cycle (Resting, Training, Ready to Fight), as well as with the need to have the most adequate equipment and training according to the current threats and available technology.

Logistics: Through enabling Iraq’s adoption of the NATO Codification System, we can assist with the challenges of material data handling and procurement of spare parts and other equipment needed to sustain front-line forces.

Building Leadership

Leadership will be enhanced by a robust professional military education, by advising on military policies and restructure, and by integrating the force in a network with NATO Allies and Partners.

NMI offers its expertise in order to help Iraq MoD reform its institutions and structures, and enabling the Armed Forces through a planned and military strategy that is aligned with a vision, through 12 distinct advisory lines of efforts. 

Building Knowledge

Through the Professional Military Education (PME), leadership development will be reviewed and, if required, improved throughout the officer continuum.

DEEP: The Defence Education Enhancement Programme is a vehicle for reform, providing tailored practical support in developing and reforming the professional military education institutions.

In addition, the roles and responsibilities of NCOs will be enhanced, most notability done through the creation of a NCO academy.

NMI has helped boost skills in areas like military medicine, military communications, countering explosive devices, military intelligence, engineering and logistics, as well as assisting in the improvement of professional military education and advising on strategic resource management.

Just as importantly, NATO has trained Iraqi soldiers to become instructors, so that they can conduct their own training without the help of international partners.  More needs to be done, but Iraq is on the path to developing Armed Forces that are self-sustaining.

Leadership and support

Joint Task Force-IMPACT is responsible for:

  • national command and control of Op IMPACT personnel and operations
  • coordinating operations with the Coalition headquarters

The CAF operates a Joint Intelligence Centre as part of Joint Task Force-IMPACT. It gathers information from a variety of sources. It is responsible for collecting, synthesizing, and analyzing this information.

Serving in Coalition Headquarters

CAF members serve in key positions in Coalition headquarters around the Middle East. They have high-demand skills in planning and carrying out military operations. These skills support and enable the Coalition and Iraqi security forces. The CAF members are experts in areas such as:

  • intelligence operations
  • targeting
  • command and control
Air operations

Air Detachment-IMPACT Op Impact was originally conceived as the delivery of air power effects in the international effort to defeat DAESH. Over time, it has transitioned to a capacity-building mission under JTF-I/TF-C. Air Detachment Impact (AD-I) provides the air power effects required in support of both Op IMPACT and Op FOUNDATION. It’s mandate is to focus on the safe movement of cargo and personnel across the Joint Operations Area (JOA) and remain flexible in order to respond quickly to both surges in local requirements and national tasking requests.

The AD-I is currently composed of a headquarters branch and an Air Mobility Detachment (AM DET) that operates 2 CC130J Hercules tactical airlift aircraft with a scalable structure capable in augmenting air effects if required. 


As of 20 Oct 2020, AD-I has been responsible for:

  • 4,452 Sorties
  • The movement of 14.6 million lbs of cargo
  • The transportation within the JOA of 8488 Passengers

While no longer part of Op IMPACT, previous contributions included:

  • 1 378 sorties flown by CF-18 Hornets. They flew between October 30, 2014, and February 15, 2016.
  • 881 sorties flown by a CP-140 Aurora. It flew between October 30, 2014, and December 11, 2017.
  • 1 166 sorties flown by the CC-150T Polaris aerial refueller. It flew between October 30, 2014, and January 24, 2019.

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 when it lands. As such, it can take multiple sorties to complete one mission.

Train, advise, and assist

Op IMPACT includes highly-specialized CAF members from the Canadian Special Operations Forces Command. They train, advise and assist the Iraqi security forces in developing their military skills. This support enables the Iraqi security forces to take the fight to Daesh. As a result, they can work to remove the threat posed by Daesh in Iraq and the region and contribute to a more secure environment.


The CAF works with regional partners to help make the region more stable and secure. Military cooperation helps prevent the spread of violent extremism. To that end, the CAF has sent two training assistance teams, one to Jordan and one to Lebanon. They work closely with Canada’s Jordanian and Lebanese partners. The teams aim:

  • Capacity-building with the Lebanese Armed Forces enhances security and stability in the region by supporting their requests for trainers, advisors and mentors for key capabilities such as operations in winter and mountainous conditions as well as life-saving military first aid.
  • Capacity-building with the Jordanian Armed Forces enhances security and stability in the region by supporting their requests for trainers, advisors and mentors for key capabilities such as combat service support and assisting with the implementation of a gender perspective in military operations.

Directorate of Strategic Communications (DSC)

  • Under Combined Joint Task Force – Operation INHERENT RESOLVE (CJTF-OIR), the Directorate of Strategic Communications (DSC) is responsible for the development and implementation of the OIR strategic narrative, and the alignment and synchronization of key leader engagements (KLEs). DSC is an international team comprised of military and civilian personnel from six nations and led by a Canadian Brigadier General.
  • Through their efforts across the Coalition in close coordination with Public Affairs, Information Operations (CJ39) and the Joint Visits Bureau, DSC shapes the information environment and reinforces the Coalition’s effects and credibility. 

History and context of the operation

Daesh is a terrorist organization which advocates radical interpretations of Islam. Originating in 1999, it rose to global prominence in 2014. At that time, it claimed religious authority over all Muslims. Its stated goal was to create a worldwide Islamic caliphate. It pursued that goal through extreme violence, particularly in Iraq and Syria.

The group began taking control of territory in Iraq and Syria in 2014. It captured Fallujah in Iraq in January 2014, and Mosul in June 2014. As it quickly advanced across Iraq and Syria, it committed numerous human rights violations and atrocities. Its actions:

  • displaced millions of people and caused the death of thousands
  • undermined stability in Iraq and the region
  • posed a threat to international security

Daesh had fighters across Iraq and Syria. A number of these were foreign recruits.

The group has also been known as:

  • the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)
  • the Islamic State (IS)
  • the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)

International response

The Global Coalition was formed in September 2014. It has 79 members, including many of Canada’s closest allies and partners. It also includes important regional partners.

The Coalition is committed to tackling Daesh on all fronts. The military campaign in Iraq and Syria has been effective. Daesh has lost more than 98% of the territory it once occupied. Over 7.7 million people have been liberated from its occupation.

The Coalition is supporting Iraqi Security Forces as they transition from major combat to stability operations. The emphasis is on training, logistics, intelligence, protecting borders, and counter-terrorism support.

Beyond the military campaign, the Coalition is also committed to:

  • tackling Daesh’s financing and economic infrastructure
  • preventing the flow of foreign terrorist fighters across borders
  • supporting stabilization
  • restoring essential public services to areas liberated from Daesh
  • countering propaganda

Timeline of key events

Date Description
Aug. / Sep. 2014 RCAF aircraft made 25 flights between August 28 and September 26, 2014. They delivered more than 1,600,000 pounds of military supplies to Iraq.
Oct. 30, 2014 Two CF-188 Hornets, one CP-140 Aurora and one CC-150T Polaris flew their first missions as part of the Global Coalition. The two CF-188 Hornets did not conduct any airstrike during this first sortie. The first successful ATF-I missions confirmed that Canadian air assets had been integrated in the Global Coalition.
Nov. 2, 2014 CF-188 Hornets conducted Canada’s first combat airstrike on Daesh targets.
Mar. 30, 2015 The CAF mission was formally extended for as many as 12 months and expanded into Syria.
Mar. 2016

The CAF ceased airstrike operations in Iraq and Syria.

May 2016 The all-source intelligence centre was stood up.
May 2016 427 Special Operations Aviation Squadron sent three CH-146 Griffon helicopters to Northern Iraq to form a Tactical Aviation Detachment.
Nov. 2016 The CAF assumed the lead of a Coalition Role 2 medical facility in Northern Iraq.
Jul. 12, 2017 A CC-130J Hercules flew its first sortie under Operation IMPACT.
Jul. 13, 2017 Brigadier-General Steven Whelan assumed the lead of the Global Coalition’s Ministerial Liaison Team (MLT).
Nov. 11, 2017 The CAF began delivering explosive threat training to Iraqi security forces.
Dec. 11, 2017 The CP-140 Aurora aircraft flew its last sortie under Operation IMPACT.
July 11, 2018 The Prime Minister of Canada announced that Canada will command a new NATO training and capacity building mission in Iraq from Fall 2018 to Fall 2019.

Jan 24, 2019


The CC-150 Polaris aerial refueller flew its last sortie and completed its deployment on Operation IMPACT.
Mar. 11, 2019 The Canadian Armed Forces transferred the lead of the Role 2 to the United States Naval Expeditionary Medical Unit. 
Mar 18, 2019 The Government of Canada announced the renewal of Operation IMPACT until the end of March 2021. 
Jun 26, 2019 The Government of Canada announced the extension of Canada’s command of NATO Mission Iraq until November 2020. Major-General Dany Fortin, who took command in November 2018, transferred command in the fall of 2019 to Brigadier-General Jennie Carignan, who was promoted to the rank of Major-General.
Nov 24, 2020 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.

Past deployments

Before sending a permanent Air Task Force to fly missions in Iraq, the CAF delivered military supplies to Iraq.

Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) aircraft made 25 flights between August 28 and September 26. They carried more than 1,600,000 pounds (725,000 kilograms) of donated supplies. The supplies were delivered to security forces working in Baghdad and Erbil. The CAF worked with military partners, including the United Kingdom and the United States. The military supplies came from allied countries. They included:

  • small arms
  • ammunition
  • other military equipment

From November 2014 to February 2016, the CAF conducted airstrikes in Iraq using CF-188 Hornet aircraft. Read a record of all airstrikes, including the date, location, and effect.

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