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Canadian special forces

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Joint Task Force 2
Joint Task Force 2
Contents

Joint Task Force Two

Special Forces duties in Canada are performed by a counter-terrorism unit known as JTF2 (Joint Task Force 2.) Canada's counter-terrorism unit is a highly secretive force about which there is very little verifiable data. The following information is extracted from that provided by the Canadian Forces.

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JTF2 Soldiers entering a room
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JTF2 Soldiers rappeling onto a balcony
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JTF2 Soldiers Camouflaged in the Wilderness

Mission

The Joint Task Force Two (JTF 2) of the Canadian Forces is a Special Operations Forces unit that is responsible for federal counter-terrorist operations. The mission of JTF 2 is to provide a force capable of rendering armed assistance in the resolution of an incident that is affecting, or has the potential to affect, the national interest. The primary focus is counter-terrorism (CT), however, the unit can expect to be employed on other high value strategic tasks.

All Special Operations Forces units are not identical. There are different groups or tiers within the international Special Operations Forces community, and strategic-level counter-terrorism forces such as JTF 2 normally operate under strict security guidelines.

The Canadian Forces also has Army snipers, its Pathfinder courses held at 8 Wing/Canadian Forces Base Trenton and the Canadian graduates of the U.S. Army Ranger Course. In other countries these qualifications might be part of their Special Operations Forces units, but in Canada, they are embedded in conventional combat units and are not considered to be of a "special forces" nature.

Unit history

Lineage

The JTF2 states that it does NOT perpetuate the Canadian Airborne Regiment although some of its members have come from that now-disbanded unit. Rather it notes that Canadians served with distinction in several types of Allied Special Forces units during the Second World War. One such unit was the legendary U.S. and Canadian combined 1st Special Service Force or, as it was commonly known, "the Devil's Brigade." It achieved a sterling combat record despite overwhelming odds. While tactics, weapons and technology have changed, today's JTF 2 soldiers are perpetuating the basic qualities that define such units.

Creation of JTF2

JTF 2 was created on 1 April 1993, when the Canadian Forces (CF) accepted responsibility for federal counter-terrorism operations from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). Since its inception, the unit has continuously evolved to meet modern-day threats, focusing in particular on the "elusive, sophisticated and determined enemy" such as those responsible for the events of 11 September 2001. JTF 2 is continuously developing new capabilities, technologies, and tactics.

JTF2 recognizes the year 2001 as an important milestone in its history. The unit was committed to the international Special Operations Forces coalition in Afghanistan, completing its operations there in November 2002. This deployment was the first time JTF 2 was used in a major combat role outside Canada. The unit played a critical role in coalition Special Operations Forces and earned the respect of Canada’s allies for its professionalism.

Unit accountability

JTF 2 is a unit of the CF and is subject to exactly the same code of conduct, military discipline and overriding Criminal Code statutes as any other military unit. Due to the strategic nature of its operations, the unit answers directly to the Deputy Chief of the Defence Staff in the chain of command. Like other units of the CF, JTF 2 follows Rules Of Engagements (ROE) authorized by the Chief of the Defence Staff and are accountable to the military and civilian justice systems. They must follow the same regulations and orders as the rest of the CF. Like any other CF unit, internal oversight bodies such as the Chief of Review Services, the Military Police Complaints Commission, the Pay and Allowances Review Board, the Access to Information Office and the CF Ombudsman all have access to JTF 2, if required, to carry out their duties.

Professionalism

JTF 2 is comprised of CF members employed in assaulter and supporter roles. All members are carefully screened for service in the unit but it is the assaulters who undergo a selection and training regime for eventual service in the fighting arm of the unit. Any Regular Force member of the CF can apply to become a member of JTF 2 after completing 2 years of service and meeting other initial entry requirements. Members of JTF 2 are highly motivated, dedicated, mature, mentally robust and physically fit. Potential assaulters are carefully screened to ensure that they meet these criteria and are the type of team-oriented and highly-skilled professional soldier, sailor or airman that can effectively function in this high stress environment. On average, only two in ten candidates that arrive at the unit for final selection will actually become a JTF 2 assaulter.

The standards established for selection and employment with the unit are scientifically designed and validated at the CF Dwyer Hill Training Centre in order to ensure that the members selected will be capable of accomplishing all tasks assigned to the unit. These standards include physical abilities, professionalism, integrity, psychological profile, mental aptitude, discipline, and maturity. These standards are required of all unit members, are tested regularly, and are an integral part of the JTF 2 ethos.

Canada's National Counter-Terrorism Plan

The Solicitor General of Canada is responsible for the National Counter-Terrorism Plan. The plan establishes lines of communication, policy, the authorities and responsibilities of federal departments and agencies in a counter-terrorism situation, and outlines the legislation, conventions and agreements to which Canada is a party. The procedures for employing a military unit in a counter-terrorism situation are also detailed in the National Counter-Terrorism Plan.

The Canadian Forces Armed Assistance Directions (CFAAD) establish the procedures for the request and provision of armed assistance by the CF to the RCMP. CF resources can be positioned close to the site of a disturbance while the situation is developing, and before any armed assistance is authorized.

The CFAAD come into play on the basis of a request by either: the Commissioner of the RCMP asking for the pre-positioning of a military force ; or the Solicitor General of Canada submitting to the Minister of National Defence for the provision of such assistance by the CF to the RCMP. CF members engaged in armed assistance activities would be given the status of peace officers.

Security

JTF 2 is subject to very stringent security procedures in order to protect the unit and its mission. However, JTF 2 has conducted capability demonstrations for appropriate authorities. The Government has also notifyed the public about its creation in 1992, its expansion following 11 September 2001, and the JTF 2 commitment to Afghanistan in 2001, as well as by responding to media questions about the unit within the limits of the security policy. However, it says that being open and transparent about certain aspects of the unit could seriously compromise its effectiveness.

JTF 2 has established itself as a well-regarded Special Operations Forces unit. This reputation has allowed the unit to develop strong relationships with its allied Special Operations Forces counterparts, relationships built on trust and confidence.

The future

The Federal Budget of December 2001 allocated approximately $120 million over six years to expand unit capabilities, as part of the Government of Canada’s overall plan following the attacks of 11 September 2001. Since then the unit has embarked on a program of expansion and capability enhancement while at the same time maintaining its high operational and training standards.

JTF 2 must be ready to respond immediately to any task assigned by the chain of command at home or abroad. The unit maintains the highest operational readiness standards in order to defend Canada against terrorism. On land, at sea and in the air JTF 2 challenges itself to ensure it's ready to defeat a multitude of potential threats.

In April 2005, the Canadian government's new defence policy statement was made public. It included a concept of first responders for international tasks consisting of "special forces" (such as an expanded JTF2) supported by one of the light battalions (presumably on a rotational basis.) Comment: this concept seems to copy the notion of US Ranger battalions or the new Ranger battalion of the British Parachute Regiment, both of which support high-level Special Forces units. Ranger skills are considered, in Canada, to be part of the capabilities of a conventional light infantry battalion.

Unconfirmed information

JTF2 is modelled closely on the British Special Air Service (SAS). JTF2 is operated under an unusual degree of secrecy for Canadian services. Its actual composition, training and its deployment have never been disclosed through official channels. It's strength is estimated at 250 to 300 troops with a lieutenant-colonel commanding; plans are in place to double its size by 2007. JTF2 is based on a 200-acre (0.8 km˛) compound at Dwyer Hill Training Centre outside of Ottawa, Ontario.

As a quick reaction force, JTF2 minimizes its reliance on other elements of the Canadian Forces. In its recruitment information, JTF2 identifies three categories of troop requirements: special operations assaulters (ASLTRS); tactical mobility and technical specialists; and service support specialists.

JTF2 is rumoured to have deployed to Bosnia when Canadian troops were taken hostage by Bosnian Serb forces in 1995 but, if so, they were not called into action before the troops were released. JTF2 was also sent to Bosnia to hunt down snipers who threatened peacekeeping troops. Other reports claim that JTF2 operated in Kosovo to designate targets for NATO bombers, but the Department of National Defence would not confirm their participation or location at the time. Members of the unit did escort General Maurice Baril across the Rwanda-Zaire border during the aborted plan to rescue Rwandan refugees. Teams provided Counterterrorism training to Haiti Forces and deployed to Peru when guerrillas took Canadian hostages there. JTF2 is known to have provided surveillance and strike teams for Task Force K-Bar in the war against Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. For its service in Afghanistan, Task Force K-Bar in which JTF2 members took part was awarded the US Presidential Unit Citation in 2004. JTF2 was not awarded the citation.

The Canadian Airborne Regiment

The Canadian Airborne Regiment is frequently associated with the notion of "special forces". However Canada's special forces (JTF2) do not consider themselves to be an offshoot of this unit. The Canadian Airborne Regiment was throughout its 27-year history a demanding parachutist unit, created and trained for conventional operations similar to those of the British Parachute Regiment, the U.S. Airborne divisions, and other NATO parachute troops. This applies, as well, to its Canadian parachutist and glider-borne predecessors that served in the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion of the British 6th Airborne Division in World War II. The anti-terrorism role of JTF2 is significantly different, even in an international context.

1st Special Service Force

Main article: Devil's Brigade

See also

External links

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