International operations

As defined in the Canada First Defence Strategy, the third role of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) is to contribute to international peace and security. The CAF meet this responsibility by protecting Canadian interests abroad and working with allies, other like-minded nations, and multinational organizations — especially the United Nations (UN) and NATO — to address commonly perceived threats.

The Canadian Joint Operations Command (CJOC) provides the command and control structure and the deployed task forces required to conduct military operations. A task force comprises all the CAF personnel and assets committed to a specific mission and operating in a specific area of responsibility.

International operations typically consist of various types of operations, which can be described as follows:

  • combat operations contribute combat-capable forces to coalition efforts to defeat armed adversaries (e.g., Operation IMPACT – air operations)
  • regional security operations contribute combat-capable forces to coalition efforts to suppress destabilizing activities, especially those related to terrorism, across national boundaries, and in international waters (e.g., Operation REASSURANCE, Operation ARTEMIS)
  • peace-support and stabilization operations contribute task-tailored military contingents to international missions working to resolve armed conflicts or civil unrest and provide safety and security for the people in the affected area (e.g., Operation JADE, Operation CROCODILE, Operation HAMLET)
  • training and advisory operations contribute task-tailored military contingents to international efforts to help partner nations build professional capacity in their security forces (e.g., Operation UNIFIER, Operation PROTEUS, Operation IMPACT – advise and assist operations)
  • humanitarian operations contribute task-tailored military contingents to support international aid organizations and the local government during the initial emergency response to a major natural disaster (e.g., Operation RENAISSANCE)
  • non-combatant evacuation operations assist the departure of foreign nationals, especially Canadians, from overseas locations where they are in danger (e.g., Operation LION – past operation, Operation MOBILE – past operation)

Working with mission partners

An expeditionary operation may be part of a Canadian “whole-of-government” engagement in the country or region where the task force is deployed. In a whole-of-government mission, the military operation is typically one component of a long-term capacity-building program that includes development and governance initiatives as well as security and stability operations.

In many cases, expeditionary operations are part of larger international or coalition missions. The CAF take part in several UN, NATO, and other multinational missions in which they operate alongside allies and other likeminded nations.

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