Operation Apollo: Military participation in US-led aggression against Afghanistan

ON OCTOBER 8, Minister of National Defence Art Eggleton announced the deployment of the Canadian military to participate in US-led attacks on Afghanistan. The deployments total more than 2,000 men and women and “will become an integral part of the overall international campaign,” Eggleton said. According to the Department of National Defence (DND) website, the operation has been dubbed “Operation Apollo.”

The Royal Canadian Air Force will deploy three Hercules and one Airbus military transport planes, as well as two Aurora maritime patrol aircraft, into the region around Afghanistan, Eggleton said. A component of the Special Forces group, Joint Task Force 2, will also participate in military action, he said, adding that “no further details” will be provided regarding their participation.

A total of six Canadian naval ships are being deployed, Eggleton said. The HMCS Halifax, with some 230 personnel, was sent the Persian Gulf immediately. The ship was deployed in NATO’s Standing Naval Force Atlantic, which operates from Northwood, Britain and is described by the DND website as “the NATO immediate-reaction naval force.” The HMCS Halifax will be joined by a task force with more than 1,000 personnel and deployed from Halifax, Nova Scotia as early as October 17. That group will consist of the frigate HMCS Charlottetown, the destroyer HMCS Iroquois and the supply ship HMCS Preserver. A frigate from the west coast, the HMCS Vancouver, will also be deployed to integrate into a US Carrier Battle Group. The frigates and the destroyer each carry Sea King helicopters. According to the Navy website, another Halifax-based frigate, as yet unnamed, will be deployed to replace the HMCS Halifax in the NATO naval force.

Eggleton said that the Canadian Navy “has attained a level of interoperability” with the US Navy that “is second to none.” Defence officials have emphasized that Canada is the only country capable of fully integrating with a US Navy Carrier battle group. Rear-Admiral Bruce MacLean, commander of Canada’s Eastern Naval Forces pointed out in an October 11 interview that during the Gulf War, three Canadian ships served in the Persian Gulf. Since then, the Navy has sent six warships to the Middle East, participating in US deployments around Iraq and supporting Canadian forces in Somalia.

Eggleton also said that since September 28, more than 100 Canadian military personnel serving on exchange programs in the US and with other military forces had been authorized by him to participate in any operations conducted by their host units.

Source: TML Daily, October 12, 2001 – No. 183

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