Operation IMPACT

From: National Defence

Op IMPACT is part of Canada’s Whole of Government approach to the region. The CAF mission compliments the work of other Canadian government agencies such as Global Affairs Canada and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to build the military capabilities of Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon and set the conditions for their long-term success.

Operation IMPACT began as the Canadian Armed Forces (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, Operation 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. 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 Canadian Armed Forces (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 environment in Iraq has shifted considerably. The spread of COVID-19 has caused the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) to suspend all training activities, which has led to an operational pause for both the Global Coalition to Defeat Da’esh and NATO Mission Iraq (NMI).

Because the duration of this operational pause is unknown, the CAF has decided to reposition personnel and equipment from Iraq, leaving minimal forces in the country as part of Operation IMPACT and NMI. We will remain postured to redeploy these forces as part of the Coalition and NATO when the conditions are right to do so, but this decision will see approximately 400 personnel redeploy to Canada.

By early April, less than 100 CAF personnel will remain in Iraq as part of the Coalition and NMI. This will include Special Operations Forces personnel, a small number of CAF personnel who will continue to support Canada’s command of NMI, several staff officers with CJTF-OIR headquarters as well as our Defence Attaché and staff.

Operation IMPACT will persist, with our Joint Task Force Impact headquarters continuing to operate in Kuwait, the continued operation of CC-130J Hercules aircraft to conduct theatre sustainment and movement. We will resume our capacity building efforts in Jordan and Lebanon once COVID-19 no longer poses a risk to our force. In the immediate term, our priority remains the safety and security of our women and men in uniform and the continuity of our operations where possible.

How many people are deployed?

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

What are they doing?

NATO Mission Iraq

Within Op IMPACT, up to 250 Canadian Armed Forces members are deployed to Iraq in support of NATO Mission Iraq,  currently led by Canadian Major-General Jennie Carignan.

The purpose of the mission is to help strengthen Iraqi security forces and Iraqi military education institutions so that Iraqi forces can prevent the return of Daesh. The end goal is a transition from foreigners training Iraqi troops to Iraqis training Iraqi troops.

Canadian contribution:

  • Leading two training and advising teams;
  • Leading one training team specializing in explosive ordnance disposal;
  • Flying three CH-146 Griffon helicopters; and
  • Moving passengers and equipment.

NATO Mission Iraq includes several hundred trainers, advisers and support staff from Allied countries and non-NATO partners, including Australia, Sweden, and Finland. Training is conducted in the area of Baghdad.

NATO Mission Iraq complements the broader international effort to help Iraq eradicate terrorism and increase the long-term stability of Iraq and the region.

Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve

Leadership and support

Joint Task Force-IMPACT is responsible for:

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

The CAF operates an all-source 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.

This intelligence is then used for operational planning. It ultimately helps to:

  • protect Coalition forces
  • determine how to conduct Coalition operations
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
Explosive threat training

About 20 CAF engineers are delivering explosive threat training to the Iraqi security forces in Besmaya, Iraq. This training aims for the Iraqi security forces to be self-sufficient in the long term.

Train, advise, and assist

Operation 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.

Capacity building

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 to:

  • help the Jordanian Armed Forces build their capacity
  • create a new program for the Lebanese Armed Forces to build their capacity

These capacity building programs may focus on:

  • individual soldier skills
  • infrastructure
  • individual soldier equipment

A Canadian brigadier-general leads the Global Coalition’s Ministerial Liaison Team. The team is supported by staff from eight countries, including Canada. It engages with the Iraqi Prime Minister’s staff. It also liaises with the Iraqi ministries of Defence and Interior. This liaison helps develop key military leaders and helps build institutional capacity. It ensures that current and future Coalition operations are in line with those of the government of Iraq.

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 world-wide 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 stabilisation
  • 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.

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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