Canada Ends Airstrikes Against Islamic State

Canada ends airstrikes against Islamic State. The Canadian pilots has flown their last combat missions in Iraq and Syria. Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan told the House of Commons that Canada’s CF-18 fighter aircraft flew their last mission on Monday, 15 January 2016.

Royal Canadian Air Force CF-18 fighter jets taxi on the runway in Kuwait during Operation IMPACT on November 13, 2014. Photo: Canadian Forces Combat Camera, DND
Royal Canadian Air Force CF-18 fighter jets taxi on the runway in Kuwait during Operation IMPACT on November 13, 2014. Photo: Canadian Forces Combat Camera, DND

As promised during the election campaign last year, Trudeau pulls Canada’s contribution to offensive actions against Islamic State out of  Iraq and Syria. In exchange, Trudeau is sending more ground troops to conduct a training mission; a move that could endanger Canadian soldiers lives.

Deemed a training mission, the plan itself lacks so much details that it is hard to say whether it will be an “inside the wire” mission or a mentoring mission such as what Canada did in Kandahar with the Afghan National Security Forces.

The removal of the CF-18 fighter aircraft does not only engage Canada in a supporting role instead of a combat one, it also send a message to our allies that “we’re done with combat and everyone else should do it for us.” Trudeau might pretend our allies are satisfied with our new plan, but I still find it very hypocrite to bring back our fighters while keeping an aerial refueling tanker in the air to support other nation’s air strikes.

Basically, Trudeau pulled the CF-18 on a promise he made to get elected regardless of the consequences it will have on Canada’s reputation within the Allied circle. While it might only be less than 3% of the air strikes, Canada’s contribution was a proof of its willingness to destroy IS and to offer a more stable environment to the civilians on the ground.

The same CF-18s, along some Canadian special forces operators were able to help the Kurds kill 70 Islamic State fighters in a failed surprise attack. With troops on the ground soon, the CF-18s would’ve been a great close air support asset to support them in case of future surprise and coordinated attacks.

But yeah, Canada once again prefer relying on its allies to do the dirt work. As a combat veteran of Afghanistan, I would’ve love to have Canadian fighter aircraft supporting our operations, especially since they would be made available right away for us. This is something Minister Sajjan knows but I guess Trudeau was insistent on keeping its promises regardless of the possible close air support possibilities for Canadian ground troops.

That said, I want to thank our pilots for their hard work and I am extremely proud of them. Although Canada has only flew 3% of the sorties, our pilots acted with professionalism and executed their job like pros.

As for the Trudeau plan, well … I guess we’ll see when (if) we get more CLEAR details soon, and not typical irrelevant information or missing part.


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Jonathan Wade, CD

Jonathan Wade is the director of the ‘The Sentinel Analytical Group’ and a decorated veteran of the Canadian Forces. Specialized in tactical, strategic, intelligence and geopolitics analysis, Jonathan has a fondness for technical details. His military experience brought him valuable insight on the realities of conflicts and war. A combat veteran of Afghanistan, Jonathan brings in in-theatre experience. Jonathan writes about Russia, Canada and Arctic.