Department of National Defence

Department of National Defence

April 19, 2007 11:51 ET

Statement by the Minister of National Defence for Air Force Appreciation Day

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - April 19, 2007) - The Honourable Gordon O'Connor, Minister of National Defence, issued the following statement today for Air Force Appreciation Day on Parliament Hill:

"This is an important day for Canada and a proud day for me as the House of Commons and the Senate recognize the contributions of the fine men and women of Canada's Air Force to the security and well-being of all Canadians.

The 15,000 men and women of Canada's Air Force are on duty every day, ensuring the sovereignty of our airspace, which extends beyond the landmass of the second largest country in the world, well out over the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic Oceans. They conduct search and rescue missions in dangerous conditions, saving lives on a daily basis and providing immediate assistance to thousands of Canadians in distress each year. They work alongside other Government Departments to combat drug smuggling and illegal immigration, monitor the environment, and keep track of fishing vessels operating in our offshore commercial fishing areas. And they are ready when disaster strikes to provide humanitarian support or evacuate injured or threatened people in Canada and around the world.

The Air Force is a part of our national identity and continually demonstrates to Canadians the high level of professionalism, teamwork, excellence, discipline and dedication inherent in the women and men of the Air Force and the Canadian Forces. And when Air Force participation in the space program sends talented astronauts like Colonel Chris Hadfield into orbit, the whole country is proud of the accomplishment.

The Air Force plays an active role in the international arena, representing Canada's interests on the world stage and helping to maintain global stability. It forms Canada's contribution to continental defence through NORAD, provides forces to NATO, and plays a vital role in Canadian Forces operations around the globe.

In Afghanistan, the Air Force is responsible for maintaining the crucial air bridge, transporting tonnes of equipment and thousands of personnel into and out of the country. Flying the CC-130 Hercules transport planes, it provides tactical airlift support to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) throughout Afghanistan and it operates unmanned aerial vehicles alongside the Army to conduct Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance to minimizes risk to Canadian soldiers on the ground. Throughout the theatre of operations, men and women of the Air Force are embedded in the Provincial Reconstruction Team, several ISAF headquarters, with the Afghan government and in the Canadian Task Force.

Canadians recognize the dedication and importance of Canada's Air Force and they are proud of the hard working men and women that protect Canada."

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