United States Marine Corps Brigadier-General Tom Weidley praised Canada’s effort in Iraq. Brig. Gen. Thomas Weidley is the Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR) Chief of Staff.
“I would submit it is a combination of all the coalition contributions that come together to produce capability. It is the sum of all the parts, if you will, and Canada is a key coalition member.”
“They provide training, education and their experiences to the Kurdish Peshmerga, whether in the conduct of operations, in the integration of aviation fire support or in terminal control advice. They become integral to what the Peshmerga are capable of doing.”
“Every Peshmerga fighter the Canadians touch enhances a future Peshmerga leader. Those intangibles grow over time. That Peshmerga fighter is going to train his subordinates and it continues to grow as that leader moves up in the chain. Small numbers of trainers have the ability to make a huge impact across the battle space.”
According to Brig.-Gen. Weidley, the Canadian deployment of 70 Special Forces operators and 9 Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) CF-188 Hornets are a force multiplier against Daesh (the Arab acronym for ISIL) .
The Canadian Special Forces operators, mostly from the Canadian Special Operations Regiment (CSOR), have been extensively training the Peshmerga. Although a friendly fire incident resulted in the death of Sgt. Andrew Doiron, the bond between the Peshmerga and the CSOR remains strong.
CSOR operators also contributed to coalition’s airstrike by sending Joint Terminal Attack Controllers (JTAC) to guide the laser-guided bombs. The JTACs contribution kept the collateral damage at its smallest and prevented the loss of civilian lives.
Meanwhile, the 9 RCAF CF-188 Hornets have been successfully conducting airstrikes in Iraq. On March 31, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper approved an extension of airstrikes to Syria. Canada then joined the United States as its sole ally in flying sorties over Syria. Canada performed its first airstrike on their first sorties in Syria.
The mission in Iraq and Syria has been extended until March 2016. The Canadian contribution, although small in numbers, has been remarkable. Every Canadians should be proud of our brave man and woman deployed abroad.