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 Timothy Arsenault, 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 and NATO improve Iraqi security forces’ capabilities. These efforts help Iraq to achieve long-term success in keeping its territory and people secure.

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 (NMI). As of November 2020, 17 CAF members support NMI.


On 21 May 2021, Brigadier-General (BGen) Timothy Arsenault assumed command of Joint Task Force IMPACT and Task Force Central (JTF-I/TF-C) in Camp Canada, Kuwait. BGen Arsenault took over from BGen Michael Wright, who commanded JTF-I/TF-C from May 2020 to May 2021.

On 30 March 2021, the Government of Canada announced the extension of Operation IMPACT until 31 March 2022. Under the renewal, the CAF is maintaining its presence in the Middle East to continue enhancing security and stability in the region.

What are they doing?

NATO Mission Iraq is building

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.


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
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
Air operations

Air Detachment Impact’s (AD-I) 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.


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 83 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 

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.

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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