- Q1 - There are reports in the media that the CF has relaxed some of their standards for JTF 2 selection because it is having problems recruiting enough personnel to expand the size of the unit following the attacks of 11 September 2001.
- Q2 - Why do we hear so much about other countries SOF but not JTF2?
- Q3 - How many people are in JTF 2?
- Q4 - How does the Government control JTF 2 if everything about the unit is so secretive?
- Q5 - What is the significance of the name Joint Task Force Two?
- Q6 - How has the unit performed in Afghanistan?
- Q7 - How is JTF 2 different from other CF units?
- Q8 - What is the Dwyer Hill Training Centre?
- Q9 - Hasn't JTF 2 been developed out of the Canadian Airborne Regiment?
- Q10 - What is JTF 2's relationship with other international SOF units?
- Q11 - What is JTF 2 training like?
- Q12 - What has happened with JTF 2 since 11 September 2001?
Q1 - There are reports in the media that the CF has relaxed some of their standards for JTF 2 selection because it is having problems recruiting enough personnel to expand the size of the unit following the attacks of 11 September 2001.
A1 - When the Government of Canada decided to enhance the capability of JTF 2, which included additional personnel, the leadership of the CF decided that the high standards and quality of JTF 2 would not be compromised in any way in order to enhance JTF 2. Contrary to reports in the media, the CF made improvements to the JTF 2 selection process based on scientific research and the needs of the unit as it has evolved over its history and has never relaxed its selection standards.
It is true that more candidates challenging the JTF 2 phase III selection are successfully completing this phase in comparison to several years ago. This improvement is a result of a number of changes made in order to maximize the potential in all applicants. Scientific research of the JTF 2 selection process proved that many candidates who failed to complete the phase III selection in the past had the desirable qualities wanted in a JTF 2 Special Operations Assaulter (maturity, intelligence, leadership), however, they were not adequately prepared physically. The military recognized that they were potentially losing excellent candidates to a factor that could be changed. In 2000 the Canadian Forces produced the JTF 2 Pre-selection Physical Fitness Training Program to help applicants physically prepare for the rigorous phase III selection. As a result of the new handbook, candidates showing up for phase III in the last three years were better prepared and were physically able to complete selection. The scientific research also resulted in the minimum physical standard for being selected for phase III being raised in order to ensure that candidates have the necessary physical conditioning to complete phase III. That being said, physically completing phase III selection does not necessitate a person being selected for service as a JTF 2 Special Operations Assaulter because the candidate must meet all the other necessary qualities required.
It is also true that the Canadian Forces have changed the rank and time in service requirements for JTF 2 applicants; however, contrary to reports in the media, these changes were not done in order to increase the pool of potential applicants for JTF 2. Reducing the time in service requirement and waiving the minimum rank of Corporal was done in recognition that there are a growing number of people in today's job market that are joining the Canadian Forces at an older age and after working in other fields for several years compared to recruits over ten years ago. These mature and skilled new members of the Canadian Forces could have the qualities desired in a Special Operations Assaulter.
The selection process for JTF 2 is always being evaluated and changes will continue to be made in order to improve the process and subsequently improve the strength of Canada's Counter-Terrorism and Special Operations unit. The strength and reputation of JTF 2, like the rest of the Canadian Forces, lies in the quality of its members and there is no room for compromise in the standards of JTF 2.
Q2 - Why do we hear so much about other countries SOF but not JTF2?
A2 - Many people make the argument that other countries in the international Special Operations Forces community have publicized the activities of their units regularly in the last ten years. This argument is made under the assumption that all Special Operations Forces units are identical, and that every country's situation is the same. In fact, there are different groups or tiers within the international Special Operations Forces community, and strategic-level counter-terrorism forces such as JTF 2 normally operate under strict security guidelines.
The Canadian Forces have been open and transparent about the accomplishments of its Army snipers, its Pathfinder courses held at 8 Wing/Canadian Forces Base Trenton and the Canadian graduates of the U.S. Army Ranger Course. In other countries these qualifications might be part of their Special Operations Forces units, but in Canada, they are embedded in our conventional combat units. Some countries that appear to have provided more open access to their Special Operations Forces units also have larger militaries, and are able to showcase people and equipment without compromising their most sensitive capabilities. For example, there are more than 52,000 people in the U.S. Special Operations Command, while there are just 55,000 effective strength members in the CF Regular Force.
Q3 - How many people are in JTF 2?
A3 - For reasons of national security the CF does not discuss the details of JTF 2 organization, capabilities or activities.
Q4 - How does the Government control JTF 2 if everything about the unit is so secretive?
A4 - The Government of Canada authorizes the overall missions and tasks undertaken by JTF 2, at all times. The unit is the responsibility of the Commander Special Operations Forces Command who is accountable to the Chief of the Defence Staff. The Chief of the Defence Staff is accountable to the Minister of National Defence who, as a Minister of the Crown, is responsible to the Prime Minister of Canada.
Q5 - What is the significance of the name Joint Task Force Two?
A5 - The term "joint task force" is used for any force made up of two or more elements of the CF. For example, the headquarters for Operation Apollo, Canada's military contribution to the international campaign against terrorism, which commanded units from Army, Navy and Air Force personnel operating in the Persian Gulf area from October 2001 to October 2003, was called Joint Task Force South West Asia.
Since members of JTF 2 are recruited from all elements of the CF, the unit is considered a joint force. The "2" designation simply distinguished it from other CF joint forces in existence when the unit was formed.
Q6 - How has the unit performed in Afghanistan?
A6 - Like all Canadian Forces units that have participated in the international campaign against terrorism, JTF 2 has been very successful in its operations. JTF 2 has earned Canada a very proud reputation among its coalition partners for having a world-class Special Operations Forces capability.
Q7 - How is JTF 2 different from other CF units?
A7 - Just like other Canadian Forces units, JTF 2 must be prepared to deploy worldwide. However, as a Special Operations Forces unit, they have specialized tasks in comparison to conventional military units.
Q8 - What is the Dwyer Hill Training Centre?
A8 - Dwyer Hill Training Centre is a CF training facility where JTF 2 conducts its training and selection.
Q9 - Hasn't JTF 2 been developed out of the Canadian Airborne Regiment?
A9 - JTF 2's soldiers perpetuate the proud tradition of Canadian Special Forces dating back to World War II. Although several members of JTF 2 served with the Canadian Airborne Regiment during their career, today's JTF 2 is very different from any other CF unit that preceded it. It has a rigorous training and selection process for modern-day operations, and a very unique role designed to counter modern threats to Canada.
JTF 2 was created on April 1, 1993 when the Canadian Forces accepted responsibility for federal counter-terrorism operations from the RCMP. Prior to the creation of JTF 2, the RCMP's Special Emergency Response Team (SERT) was responsible for federal counter-terrorism operations. Since its creation, JTF 2 has evolved, and this evolution is continuous. The threat of terrorism comes from an elusive, sophisticated and determined enemy. In order to maintain an edge on its potential adversary, JTF 2 is continuously developing new capabilities, technologies, and tactics.
Q10 - What is JTF 2's relationship with other international SOF units?
A10 - JTF 2 has established itself internationally as a Special Operations Forces unit. It has done so over its history because of the outstanding quality and ability of its members, its proven operational effectiveness and its stringent operational security policy. This reputation has allowed JTF 2 to develop strong relationships with its allied Special Operations Forces counterparts, relationships built on trust and confidence. These relationships assist JTF 2 in providing the best possible counter-terrorism defence for Canada.
Q11 - What is JTF 2 training like?
A11 - JTF 2 is comprised of assaulters and supporting members, all of whom are Canadian Forces personnel. All members are carefully screened for service in the various elements that comprise JTF 2. It is, however, the Special Operations Assaulters who undergo the most intense selection and training for eventual service in the fighting arm of the unit.
The standards established for selection and employment with JTF 2 are scientifically designed and validated at the Canadian Forces Dwyer Hill Training Centre in order to ensure that the members selected will be capable of accomplishing all tasks assigned to the unit. These standards are not just limited to physical abilities. High standards are also required for professional skill sets, integrity, psychological profile, mental aptitude, discipline, and maturity. These standards are not just used for selecting new members, they are maintained throughout the unit and are ingrained in the JTF 2 ethos.
Q12 - What has happened with JTF 2 since 11 September 2001?
A12 - The Government's Counter-Terrorism Plan following the attacks of 11 September 2001 specifically included JTF 2. Additional funding of $120 million over 5 years was given to the Department of National Defence to enhance the capability of JTF 2. This enhancement project started in 2002 and will continue until 2007.