Joint Task Force 2
|Joint Task Force 2|
|Active||1 April 1993 – present|
|Type||Special operations force|
|Part of||Canadian Special Operations Forces Command|
|Motto(s)||Latin: Facta Non Verba (Deeds, Not Words)|
|Decorations||United States Presidential Unit Citation|
|BGen Denis Thompson|
|Col Barry MacLeod
LCol Ray Romses
Joint Task Force 2 (JTF2) (French: Force opérationnelle interarmées 2, FOI 2) is an elite special operations force of the Canadian Armed Forces. JTF2 serves alongside the Canadian Special Operations Regiment, the Canadian Joint Incident Response Unit and 427 Special Operations Aviation Squadron as part of the Canadian Special Operations Forces Command. The unit is currently based at Dwyer Hill, near Ottawa, Ontario, and plans to move to a new facility to be built at CFB Trenton by 2019.
Serving as the centrepiece of Canada's special operations, JTF2 is primarily tasked with counter-terrorism operations but also specializes in direct action, hostage rescue, personnel recovery, and foreign internal defence. Much of the information regarding Joint Task Force 2 is classified, and is not commented on by the Government of Canada.
In 1992, Deputy Minister of Defence Robert Fowler announced he was recommending to Governor General Ray Hnatyshyn that he disband the Royal Canadian Mounted Police's Special Emergency Response Team (SERT) and create a new military counter-terrorism group. The decision was made largely because the Canadian Forces offered a greater pool of recruits for the program than civilian police forces, and it stemmed the public uproar about police being taught to use primarily lethal means.
In early 1993, the unit was activated with just over 100 members, primarily drawn from the Canadian Airborne Regiment and Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry. They were given the SERT facility on Dwyer Hill Road near Ottawa as their own base of operations, and permanently parked a Greyhound bus and a DC-9 aircraft on the grounds for use in training.
Its first scheduled action was Operation Campus, the protection of highways and water treatment plants around the Oka reserve while a police force tried to "crack down on smuggling" on the native reserve, immediately following the Oka crisis. However two daily newspapers in Quebec revealed the operation just days before it was to go into action, and it was cancelled. The federal budget of December 2001 allocated approximately $120 million over six years to expand unit capabilities and double its size to an estimated 600 personnel, as part of the overall plan following the attacks of September 11, 2001.
JTF2 forces were inserted into Bosnia, operating in two-to-four-man teams hunting for Serbian snipers who were targeting UN forces at the sniper alley. They were scheduled to free approximately 55 hostages in Operation Freedom 55, but the mission was cancelled as the Bosnian Serbs released all the prisoners voluntarily.
In 1996, JTF2 deployed to Haiti to advise the security forces of President René Préval on methods to repel the revolutionary army, train local SWAT teams and raid weapons smugglers in Port-au-Prince.
According to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, JTF2 was also in Haiti at the time that Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide was ousted from power in 2004. They protected the Canadian embassy and secured the airport.
War on Terror
In the aftermath of the September 11 attacks and the American declaration of a War on Terror, approximately 40 JTF2 soldiers were sent to southern Afghanistan in early December 2001 to be part of Task Force K-Bar, under the command of Captain Robert Harward. Although the Canadian public was not informed of the deployment. However, in Sean M. Maloney's book Enduring the Freedom, it was reported that JTF2 was secretly deployed without Prime Minister Jean Chrétien's permission in early October 2001. Under Task Force K-Bar, JTF2 worked extensively with the 3rd SFG; one of their first missions in Afghanistan was what Harward described as "the first Coalition Direct action mission since the Second World War." The joint operation with a team of Green Berets targeting a Taliban command node almost ended in disaster when a Chinook carrying JTF2 operators was forced to make a hard landing near the target site. While serving with Task Force K-Bar, Harward also stated that the JTF2 team under his command was his first choice for any direct action.
Several months later, The Globe and Mail published an image on its front page showing operators in distinctive forest-green Canadian Forces combat uniforms delivering captured prisoners to the Americans. This prompted an outcry in Parliament as MPs were never informed these operations were underway. Vice Admiral Greg Maddison was called before the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs to address claims that Minister of Defence Art Eggleton had purposely misled the public and the government, even failing to inform the Prime Minister that JTF2 had been operating in Afghanistan. Segments of the Canadian media made much of the special forces handing over detainees, particularly those who may have been sent to Guantanamo bay. In January 2002, JTF2 deployed reconnaissance teams to the series of caves was discovered in Zhawar Kili, just south of Tora Bora, airstrikes hit the sites before SOF teams were inserted into the area. A SEAL platoon from SEAL Team 3, including several of their Desert Patrol Vehicles, accompanied by a German KSK element and a Norwegian SOF team, spent some nine days conducting extensive SSE, clearing an estimated 70 caves and 60 structures in the area, recovering a huge amount of both intelligence and munitions, but they didn't encounter any al-Qaeda fighters. In March 2002, JTF2 reconnaissance teams took part in Operation Anaconda; they also conducted close protection tasks and participated in numerous direct action missions, allegedly including the siege at Mirwais hospital in Kandahar, where a US Army Special forces ODA killed a group of al-Qaeda terrorists hiding in a hospital ward; JTF2 also carried out numerous operations with the New Zealand Special Air Service. JTF2's first rotation was completed when they returned to Canada in May 2002, to be replaced by a second, shorter term, deployment until October 2002.
In 2004, an estimated 40 members of JTF2 serving with Task Force K-Bar were awarded the Presidential Unit Citation by the U.S. government for service in Afghanistan. Very little is known on JTF2 operations in Afghanistan, but during a conference the former Chief of Defence Staff, General Rick Hillier, stated that JTF2 is in "high demand" and that they are considered to be "world class". He went on to say that the unit is providing direct support to the Afghan government and is targeting the Taliban leadership in southern Afghanistan. He stated that "trying to help neutralize those leaders is a key part of their role and that's what they will continue to do."
On 26 November 2005, members of the terrorist group Swords of Righteousness Brigade-a small offshoot of possibly IAI, AAI, Army of Islam, or a cover name for their abduction cells, or freelance cash criminal abductors- kidnapped 4 members (2 Canadian, 1 British and 1 American) of the Christian Peacemaker Teams in Baghdad, Iraq. In response, Task Force Knight—the British special forces task force in Iraq-initiated Operation Lightwater; spearheaded by B squadron, 22nd SAS Regiment, the aim of which was to find and recover the hostages; a small team of JTF2 and Canadian intelligence experts joined the task force for the operation whilst the United States provided technical intelligence to the operation. Together the force carried out relentless raids across the city, building up a picture by exploiting intelligence in the search for the hostages, eventually on the 23 March 2006 the three remaining hostages were rescued by the SAS. The Pentagon and the British Foreign Office both commented on the instrumental role JTF2 played in rescuing the British and Canadian Christian Peacemaker Team that were being held hostage in Iraq. Involvement of JTF2 was not confirmed by Canadian officials.
There has been much speculation in the Canadian media on possible JTF2 operational deployments. As of 2001, the unit had 297 members, but by the end of the year, with the War on Terror becoming a reality, the federal government announced their intentions to increase it to 600 members within four years.
As of 2014 the unit is believed to be in Iraq as training personnel, under the Canadian Operation Impact which is part of Operation Inherent Resolve. The Canadian Government has not denied or confirmed JTF2's involvement.
In June 2017, it was reported that a JTF2 sniper within the last month in Iraq had shot and killed an Islamic State (IS) fighter from a distance of 3,540 metres (2.20 mi), setting a world record for the longest confirmed kill. The shot was taken from a high-rise building using a standard Canadian military issued C15 Long Range Sniper Weapon (LRSW).
JTF2 has also acted as bodyguards to Canadians travelling abroad, notably accompanying Lieutenant-General Maurice Baril and Raymond Chrétien to Zaire in November 1996. When photographs provided to the media were revealed to show the faces of JTF2 forces, they were redacted and reissued with the faces removed. In 1998, they accompanied General Romeo Dallaire to Tanzania where he was due to testify against a Rwandan Hutu official accused of complicity in the 1994 genocide. They similarly accompanied war crimes prosecutor Louise Arbour into Kosovo. In early November 2000, Conservative Defence Critic David Price stated that JTF2 had been deployed to Kosovo, however, this was denied by Prime Minister Jean Chrétien and Defence Minister Art Eggleton.
On 21 December 2006, a Federal Court judge rejected a request to proceed with a court martial against an unnamed JTF2 officer, accused of assaulting and mistreating a subordinate. Because court martial requests require that the accused be named, the judge suggested that they explore other avenues to proceed with the court martial.
JTF2 has acknowledged the death of one member. Master Corporal Anthony Klumpenhouwer, 25, died on April 18, 2007, after falling off a communications tower in Kandahar, Afghanistan. In 2010, the investigation into Klumpenhouwer's death was completed, and revealed that he had been knocked unconscious by a surge of electricity.
Operators use a range of weapons including the Colt Canada series of rifles C7, C8 and C8SFW. The Heckler & Koch MP5 (A2/A3/SD) submachine gun. The FN Herstal P90 personal defence weapon. The SIG Sauer P226 sidearm. Remington Model 870 and Benelli M3 shotguns. The FN Minimi C9A1 light machine gun. The M2 Browning heavy machine gun. Sniper rifles include Accuracy International AWP, Heckler & Koch PSG1, and Barrett M82. The Heckler & Koch GMG automatic grenade launcher and Heckler & Koch HK69A1 grenade launcher. The Saab Bofors Dynamics AT4 anti-tank weapon.
JTF2 uses the High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV) special operations version. A replacement project was cancelled in 2010. In 2016, the DAGOR (Deployable Advanced Ground Off-road) vehicle by Polaris Defense was awarded the Ultra-Light Combat Vehicle (ULCV) contract to provide 78 vehicles to CANSOFCOM.
References in popular culture
In 2002, author David Pugliese published a book, Canada's Secret Commandos: The Unauthorized Story of Joint Task Force Two. In 2008, Denis Morisset, a former member of JTF2, published a book about JTF2, named Nous étions invincibles (English translation: "We were invincible").
JTF2's secrecy kept the unit out of the Canadian public eye for quite some time, though it did appear in the Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six video game series. A character named Roger McAllen, who was part of the former Royal Canadian Mounted Police Special Emergency Response Team, ported over to JTF2 when they were handed over responsibility for counter-terrorism duties in 1993.
In March 2012, EA's Medal of Honor: Warfighter trailer released worldwide. The game focuses on Tier 1 special forces groups around the world, and includes JTF2 as a playable unit in multiplayer mode.
On February 2, 2016, the video game Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Siege released two new operators from JTF2, attacker Buck and defender Frost, to use in online gameplay.
Later in February, the video game Unturned released a shirt item named 'Spec Ops Top' bearing the JTF2 logo.
One of the team members in The Reckoners fantasy novel series is a former member of JTF2.
- Canadian Airborne Regiment
- Devil's Brigade
- Emergency Response Team, the RCMP branch dedicated to paramilitary operations
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