A squad of elite warriors in the Canadian Forces (CF) is working under the name of Joint Task Force 2 or just JTF2. Their operations include counter-terrorism operations and armed assistance to other government departments in a military manner.
JTF2 is a successor of the Special Emergency Response Team of the RCMP, who was in service regarding these security questions from 1986 to 1993 when the federal government restructured Canadian military forces. Today, JTF2 serves with the other Canadian Special Operations Regiment, the 427 Special Operations Aviation Squadron and the Joint Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Defence Company. They are acting as a part of the Canadian Special Operation Forces Command.
Joint Task Force 2 (JTF2) is in charge when it is needed to provide a force to Canadian government which is capable of render armed assistance in the resolution of a problem or a potential problem which might affect national security. While JTF2’s essential role is counter-terrorism, its staff can be utilized in any type of military operations, which incorporate, yet are not restricted to, surveillance, security counsel and close personal protection (VIP).
In 1992, Deputy Minister of Defence announced he was recommending to Governor General 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 better-trained 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 first members joined the newly formed unit. First members were primarily drawn from the Canadian Airborne Regiment and Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry and their number was around 100 members. They were given the SERT facility on Dwyer Hill Road near city Ottawa as their own training ground and base of operations. Immediately, they were provided permanently with a parked Greyhound bus and a DC-9 aircraft on the ground training purposes.
Their first action was planned to be the protection of highways and water treatment plants around the Oka reserve while a regular police force had an objective on smuggling on the native reserve. It triggered the Oka crisis when two daily newspapers in Quebec revealed the details of operation just days before it was to be executed and of course, it had to be cancelled.
From then to now, JTF2 has been part of many missions, mostly under international military campaigns (UN, NATO).
Year by year, their budget demanded more money. After 9/11 attacks in 2001, their budget was allocated with 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 9/11 attacks. Today’s budget is not known, but it is estimated to have been doubled since 2001.
- Afghanistan: 2001–present
- Iraq 2006
The overall information about JTF2 is still not publicly available as it is usually not commented on by the Government of Canada and it is considered as Top Secret, but that has been changed recently when Canadian Special Forces organized a training showcase. Despite the showcase, the faces of the special group will never be seen, but officials say it’s important that the world knows they are a significant part of Canada’s military muscle.
“It’s important for them to be seen and be contributing to Canada’s overall defence because a lot of what they do is in the shadows,” Brig. Gen. Denis Thompson, commander of the Canadian Forces Special Operations Command, told reporters.
“It’s more demonstrative today because there’s more interest up there in just showing that we have the ability to reach out, anywhere, at any time,” said Maj. Gen. David Fraser, a retired military commander.
Keep calm, return fire and stay safe!