Operations

NATO Commander returns from Baghdad, Iraq

Appointed as the first Commander of NATO Mission Iraq (NMI), Major General Fortin returned home from his year-long deployment in Baghdad, Iraq. 

During the past year, MGen Fortin has led a team of trainers, advisors, and support staff from Allied countries and several non-NATO partners as part of NMI. As a non-combat training and capacity building mission, NMI is designed to help strengthen the Iraqi security forces and Iraqi military education institutions. 

When asked how he would describe his deployment experience, MGen Fortin explained, “I spent the last seventeen months preparing for deploying and executing a mission – so that’s all I’ve been doing for a while! I would say that I’ve had the privilege of commanding a great team of military and civilians from across the alliance and partner countries – a significant portion of which is Canadian, with CAF members from all elements.

“What was very visible was Canadian support to Canadians abroad, and it’s very much appreciated.”  MGen Fortin

 

“I’m absolutely thrilled about where the mission is at today, from inception to thirteen months later, having transferred that to another Canadian general,” he added.

Discussing Canada’s role in NATO Mission Iraq, MGen Fortin explained the purpose of the mission and the importance of CAF members in Iraq. 

“We are working towards developing a professional military education system for the Iraqi military, under the minister of defence. We bring expertise, experience from across the alliance.

“All activities that occur in the city of Baghdad are possible through CAF mobile force protection. We have three helicopters that allow us to fly personnel and equipment between the three major sites that we have in the city. There are Canadians of different ranks in the headquarters that look at planning activities, logistics, and administration. CAF members are also in schools, notably in the communications school, engineering school, and the bomb disposal school,” he explained.

Transfer of Authority between Major-General Dany Fortin and Major-General Jennie Carignan presided by Admiral James Foggo, Commander Allied Joint Force Command, Naples, Italy.

After serving on many deployments throughout his career, MGen Fortin spoke on the immense support received by Canadian soldiers from those at home.

“What was very visible was Canadian support to Canadians abroad, and it’s very much appreciated,” mentioned MGen Fortin. 

“Things like the Royal Canadian Legion gift packages – and around Christmas time, the box of goodies that show up on your lap. Other nations do it, but not quite at the same level. We operate in Iraqi camps, where you have the amenities you would expect, but nothing more – so having a little bit of home away from home is much appreciated. The gift packages are a big morale boosters!” he laughed.

Portrait Major General Fortin, JSSD. Commander 1st Canadian Division. Apr 26 2018, CFB Kingston.

When discussing mission results, MGen Fortin appeared optimistic. “We had the normal challenges you would expect as you set up a new multinational adventure, a new organization, setting up an office space, networks, building a team, and relationships,” he explained. 

“I’m proud to say that we are an important partner to Iraq. Our support is appreciated by all stakeholders, and by Iraqis. We are seeing results, in schools where we have been, and in some of the defence sector reform initiatives in which we have been involved. 

“Canada has played a role in pretty much everything because of the number of individuals we have there, and the command that we have of the mission,” said MGen Fortin.

Upon arriving home, MGen Fortin was most excited to be reunited with his family. 

“My family is very resilient. I’ve been blessed with a family that has supported me throughout my career,” he explained.

“Over the many deployments that I’ve had, we’ve experienced different phases – first deployment we had no kids, then the next, [my daughter] was very young, and so on. It’s a different experience today than many younger [CAF] couples experience,” he noted. 

When speaking of the sacrifices made by military families of deployed members, MGen Fortin added, “I really appreciate the support [of those families]. The Canadian contribution in Iraq to NMI matters. The mission matters, and we are seeing results. While it’s not always apparent sitting here in Canada, there are many ongoing challenges in Iraq. [Military families] can be proud of the contribution that NATO is making, that the CAF men and women are making moving forward.” 

MGen Fortin transferred command of NMI to MGen Jennie Carignan on November 26, 2019, before returning to Canada at the end of last week.

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Ambar Syed

Born and raised in London, England, Ambar moved to Canada in 2017 after marrying her husband in the CAF. She has always loved writing and started her blog, Her Little Loves, in 2015 while studying for her B.A. (Hons) in English. Ambar is excited to write for CMFMAG and contribute towards the military family community.

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