The Canadian Armed Forces’ (CAF) fight against the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), also known as Daesh, will go well beyond the upcoming June 30 mandate deadline, says BGen. Daniel MacIsaac, Commanding Officer, Joint Task Force-Iraq.
The current mandate of the Government of Canada put in place in Feb. 2016, was set to expire at the end of March this year. But before the deadline, the government announced that the deadline would be extended three months to the end of June.
However, because of the evolving nature of the battle and the continuing fight against Daesh, MacIsaac states that he is not concerned about the upcoming deadline.
“I’m quite confident that we’ll hear news in the next few weeks about what the next stage of our operation will look like here,” said the commanding officer.
Over the last few years, Canada has been able to make significant contributions to the coalition’s fight against Daesh. Since 2014, four million people have been liberated from areas controlled by Daesh. According to MacIsaac, the so-called Islamic State has lost control of land equivalent to the size of Nova Scotia, including Cape Breton; and, the flow of foreign fighters into the region has greatly been reduced from approximately 1,500 to a mere hundred.
The northern Iraqi city of Mosul, once an ISIL stronghold, has also been greatly taken back by coalition forces since the fight in Mosul began in Oct. 2016. It is said that approximately 250,000 boys and girls of Mosul have been able to return to school.
However, the battle against Daesh is far from over, in Mosul and beyond.
“There are thousands and thousands and thousands of Daesh still in Syria and Iraq. We have to take from them their supposed caliphate because they’re controlling the people therein and they also have a significant revenue stream that comes from owning the areas they own right now,” noted MacIsaac.
As the fight against Daesh will continue for the foreseeable future, MacIsaac states that a sequence of operations are in place beyond Mosul to restrict Daesh’s freedom to operate.
“In the end, we want to make sure they are not able to pursue any course of actions they want to. We don’t want them to hold any territory in Iraq and Syria, we don’t want them to threaten regional or international partners, and we don’t want them to challenge the Iraqi government’s sovereignty,” commented MacIsaac.
Support for Canada’s Warriors
As CAF members remain dedicated and focused on their mission to train and advise Iraqi forces and provide support to coalition forces, they also are engaged in activities that support the overall morale and well-being of the troops.
Recently, troops took part in a Royal Canadian Air Force Run in Kuwait and, thanks to the support of Canadian Forces Morale and Welfare Services, a great number of other activities like powerlifting competitions and workouts of the day are arranged for the troops.
“Most of the Canadian Forces people should almost come home in better shape than they were when they got here,” said MacIsaac.
MacIsaac also reaffirmed that Canadian soldiers have access to quality internet and mail systems to regularly connect with families and also have the luxury of the occasional Tim Horton’s coffee.
The CAF also provides a “deliberate” mental health program to provide support to those that need it.
“That’s not because we see any grave risk, but it’s just part of taking care of our people,” commented MacIsaac.
Overall, MacIsaac says the CAF members deployed to the region work as a family to take care of one another and accomplish the mission at hand.
“It’s a privilege to command all the Canadians deployed as part of Joint Task Force-Iraq. You’re doing a great job.
“I thank all the families at home for their support. I promise to do my best to take care of Canada’s warriors,” said MacIsaac.