Department of National Defence

Department of National Defence

August 18, 2011 11:47 ET

Joint Task Force Afghanistan Air Wing Closeout Ceremony

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Aug. 18, 2011) - The Joint Task Force Afghanistan (JTF-Afg) Air Wing officially ended its operations today at Kandahar Airfield in a ceremony attended by key leaders of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), as well as the Canadian Forces (CF) members currently deployed at Kandahar Airfield. This comes on the heels of the end of the CF's combat mission in Afghanistan, which concluded in July.

"Canadians are proud of the successes our men and women in uniform achieved in Canada's name as part of a United Nations-mandated, NATO-led mission in Afghanistan," said the Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence. "The Air Wing in Kandahar was a critical component of these successes, moving personnel and resources in a hostile setting and enabling critical military operations. Because of the work of our air personnel in Afghanistan, Afghans live in a more secure environment."

"The establishment of the Canadian Joint Task Force Afghanistan Air Wing in Kandahar ushered in a new era of Canadian Forces air support to combat operations," said Lieutenant-General Marc Lessard, commander of Canadian Expeditionary Force Command. "In fact, it was the first military formation of its size and type deployed by Canada had deployed to an armed conflict since the Second World War."

"The Air Wing provided capabilities that helped save Canadian, coalition and Afghan lives by reducing exposure to ambushes, landmines and improvised explosive devices," said Brigadier-General Chuck Lamarre, commander of the Mission Transition Task Force (MTTF). "With its skills and robust capacity, the Air Wing has also supported the Mission Transition Task Force, providing helicopter over-watch of our convoys outside the wire. The Air Wing has acquired knowledge and experience that will greatly benefit future Canadian military operations."

"This is a significant day, as we close down the Joint Task Force Afghanistan Air Wing after 32 months of first-class support to combat operations," said the Air Wing Commander, Colonel Al Meinzinger. "Everyone who served with the Air Wing displayed great flexibility and agility in working with our many mission partners. Over the last five months, all three units of the Air Wing surged to unprecedented levels to support operations, cementing the legacy of Air Wing member contributions to the mission over the last number of years."

With three distinct Royal Canadian Air Force units — tactical airlift, tactical helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles — the JTF-Afg Air Wing provided the ground forces of ISAF Regional Command (South) with the full range of air support capabilities while also meeting Canadian Forces objectives.

The CC-130 Hercules deployed in Kandahar Province will continue to fly in support of the MTTF until the end of 2011. The mandate of the MTTF is to ensure that the closure of Canada's recently completed combat operation, and CF withdrawal from Kandahar Province, are conducted effectively, while maintaining accountability for equipment, materials, and personnel.

The JTF-Afg Air Wing stood up at Kandahar Airfield on December 6, 2008 with 200 personnel and quickly grew to its final operating strength of 450 personnel. Over the three years of operations, the JTF-Afg Air Wing achieved the following milestones:

Aircraft Passengers Hours flown Cargo (pounds)
CH-146 Griffon 2,294 16,343 20,615
CH-147 Chinook 89,314 7,085 7,090,889
CH-146 & CH-147 combined 91,608 23,428 7,111,504
CU-170 Heron Not applicable 15,075 Not applicable
CC-130 Hercules 28,180 23,000 7,046,759
MI-8 Chartered Cargo Helicopter Not applicable 11,000 16,000,000

Note to editors:

For information on JTF-Afg Air Wing, please visit the following link: http://www.comfec-cefcom.forces.gc.ca/pa-ap/ops/fs-fr/aw-ea-eng.asp

Video B-Roll, along with still imagery of JTF-Afg Air Wing operations and the cease operations ceremony will be available at: http://www.combatcamera.forces.gc.ca/site/01/AFG%20Airwing/index-eng.asp

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