Could the Canadian mainstream media jeopardize both the mission and the lives of Canadian operators in Iraq?
Sadly, the answer is yes.
Since the Canadian Special Operations Forces Command — commonly known as CANSOFCOM — was created, its units have been operating in a very secretive environment. From the mountains of Afghanistan to the desert of Iraq, Canada’s Special Forces have distinguished themselves by proving they are one of the world’s best.
In fact, the very first spectrum of any Special Operations Command around the world is to work in the shadows of the conventional forces. But Canadians wanted to know more about their Special Operations Forces.
The Canadian Special Forces current Commander, Brigadier-General Michael Rouleau, has vowed to bring more transparency in his command. He held press conferences recently about what the real mission is in Iraq and to provide the media with insensitive information.
While this is a good thing, it could also turn to vinegar quickly. The Canadian media will suck as much information as possible on current Canadian Special Operations Forces deployments around the world.
The huge media frenzy on the Special Forces Joint Terminal Attack Controllers (JTAC) in Iraq has been a sign of what could get wrong with more transparency. The JTAC’s role is to direct airstrikes while keeping the collateral damage at the lowest level possible.
Many media have been accusing the Canadian government to hide the true nature of Canada’s Special Forces deployment in Iraq. But if the National Defence issued a statement in the early stages of the Iraq intervention about the use of JTACs, their life would have been in jeopardy. Islamic State fighters would have been made aware and extensive patrolling might have let them find the small team.
To preserve the initiative, the Canadian Special Forces operators need secrecy and they need to know that the Canadian population understands and respect that. As a combat veteran of Afghanistan—even with no prior Special Forces experience —I cannot stress enough that working in complete secrecy is paramount, both for the security of our operators and for the success of the mission. Our operators are silent professionals, they will do anything to get the mission done; a mission issued and authorized by the Canadian government.
What amazes me is how the Canadian media will do anything to get a few lines in their newspapers or a few minutes on national TV while completely disregarding the safety of our operators abroad. It is our duty — as Canadian civilians or veterans — to not let that happen.
Jonathan Wade served in the Canadian Forces with distinction for more than fourteen years prior to his honorable discharge in June 2014, a career which led him to travel across the globe, deploying to Afghanistan in 2009 to mentor and advise the Afghan National Army—where he was awarded the Chief of the Defence Staff Commendation—and shortly to Haiti following the earthquake of 2010.
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