On the Front Line – Canadian Special Forces in the Middle East

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As we enter a new year, many of us do not know that the bloody Middle Eastern ground war is becoming more intense by the day. Special Operations forces from several nations are facing a struggle to defend Syria and Iraq from the surge of Islamic State extremism. They are training local defense forces as well as providing humanitarian assistance and weapons training to northern tribal units, namely Kurdistan’s Peshmerga fighters.

In December 2014, the Canadian Government denied that Joint Task Force 2 (JTF2) soldiers were in combat in Iraq. However, in light of what has been revealed recently, it is possible to paint a very different picture. Canada’s “boots on the ground” have come under fire three times since they were first deployed to Iraq in September according to the Canada’s Chief of Defence Staff, General Tom Lawson . They have also begun to direct fire towards ISIS targets on the front lines. A spokeswoman for the Western coalition task force confirmed that Canadian Special Forces are the only ones currently directing fire and in a position to engage in combat . Despite what our government may or may not have revealed to us, it is prudent to assume that Canadian forces are participating actively in the ground war.

This elite JTF2 unit was created in 1993, its goal being counter-terrorism and special operations. Soldiers were drawn from the elite of Canada’s military, and membership has since grown to approximately 600 personnel. JTF2 has been at the front line of every Canadian military conflict since its inception, including Bosnia, the war in Afghanistan and the Libyan Civil War in 2011. These silent servicemen bring to mind images of the ancient Spartan Warriors. Brooding, efficient and deadly, they go about their tasks without recognition; whether it be counter-terrorism or training local fighters. Their missions are classified and the identities of its members cannot be revealed. When they are not in action, they train in small independent teams at undisclosed locations, according to CTV documentary “Secret Warriors.” In essence, they go where no one else dares. JTF2’s fighters are so well-respected that, at TIER 1 level, they are considered on par with the U.S. Seal Team Six as the most elite career soldiers in the world. They are armed to the teeth with the latest weaponry such as C8 assault rifles and MP5 sub-machine guns. Clad in desert camo, flak jackets and Oakleys, they provide an intimidating presence on the battlefield.

ISIS fighters have actually gained ground in Iraq, which means continued military aid for local fighters is a must in this region. Canada’s JTF2 soldiers and their training techniques provide the best chance of plugging the tidal rush that is the Islamic State. For more information on Canada’s Special Forces in the Middle East, visit the links below:

Canada in the Middle East Conflict:
http://ottawacitizen.com/news/national/defence-watch/jtf2-is-not-in-combat-in-iraq-canadian-forces-says-reports-about-jtf2-snipers-are-false
http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/isis-fight-canadian-special-forces-returned-fire-2-more-times-1.2931848
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/top-canadian-general-holds-undisclosed-talks-with-kurds-in-iraq/article22651756/
http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/isis-fight-canadian-advisers-guiding-airstrikes-but-u-s-barred-from-doing-same-1.2934056

General Information:
http://www.forces.gc.ca/en/operations-special-forces/jtf2.page
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RhoJ0RyPpxs

-Peter Gibbs