Operation DESERT FALCON, the Belgian F-16 Fighting Falcon mission in support of Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve, conducted an end of mission ceremony in Jordan on September 30, 2021.
Belgian Lt. Gen. Marc Thys, Vice Chief of Defense headed the ceremony, with Maj. Gen. Thierry Dupont, Belgian Air Component Commander, Filip Vanden Bulke, the Belgian Ambassador, and British Brig. Richard Bell, CJTF-OIR Deputy Commander, also present.
The ceremony recognized the 12-month deployment of four Belgian F-16s to Jordan, a reliable and stable partner of CJTF-OIR. During their deployment they provided air support for CJTF-OIR partner and coalition forces. Both the Iraq Security Forces and Coalition Aligned Security Forces are capable security partners who no longer solely rely on air support to win their tactical engagements with Daesh. This therefore means there is no requirement to replace the Belgian F-16s returning home on completion of their planned 12-month deployment.
“This sees the Coalition of over 78 nations commit, at the invitation of the Government of Iraq and at the specific request of the Iraqi Security Forces, to provide support to the Iraqi Security Forces at the operational level only,” said Bell. “This transition to an advise and assist mission will see no troops in a combat role within Iraq, and only providing the capabilities the Iraqi Security Forces themselves assess they need to maintain the enduring defeat of Daesh.”
“The requested operational advise and assist mission will provide Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance support as well as equipment divestments to support the ISF to maintain the enduring defeat of Daesh” said Bell.
“Over the last 7 years, the Coalition has fought side-by-side with security partners of Iraq and Syria, to militarily defeat Daesh. Through training 240,000 ISF members, and employing nearly 35 thousand airstrikes, the Coalition and partners liberated nearly 8 million people and cleared more than 110,000 square kilometers of Daesh presence in Iraq and Syria,” Bell added.
“We have conducted nearly 35,000 air strikes to drive Daesh back into a position where our partnered forces in Iraq and Syria can deal with them on the ground on their own,” said Bell. “Together, [the Coalition] have provided our partners in Iraq and Syria with nearly $4 billion of equipment to ensure they remain robust and capable to maintain the enduring defeat of Daesh.”
Since October 1, 2020, the Belgian detachment completed 302 missions in support of the ISF and Coalition Aligned Security Forces in Syria. Focused on achieving the enduring defeat of Daesh, their mission was to provide air support in the form of reconnaissance and strike missions supporting partner forces on the ground.
“Our force projection is a great testimony of the effective interoperability between coalition partners, both in terms of capabilities and command and control,” said Dupont. “None of this would have been possible without the vital support from our host, the Jordan Air Force as well as from our strategic partners, our allies here on base and in theater.”
The Coalition, including Belgium, remain committed to supporting our Partner Forces in their fight against Daesh. This will continue to be achieved through the advise and assist role through the invitation of the Government of Iraq.
“Your commitment, your action resulted in the disintegration of Daesh as a standing fighting force,” said Thys.”Your commitment gave the population of this region at least the possibility to rebuild a life in far more secure condition than before. Be proud of what you have accomplished, you’ve certainly made me proud.”