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Provide Comfort and Northern Watch Missions

Heroes Remember

Provide Comfort and Northern Watch Missions

Interviewer: Was the Northern Watch different from the Provide Comfort? The original Provide Comfort was set up to provide food and medicine to the Kurds, the Kurdish people that were hiding and living in the mountains. And we'd basically send a plane load of food or medicine or whatever into the mountains where the Kurds were known to be, and they would drop food and medicine to them. They would come out of their caves, get the food and medicine and go back into their caves in hiding. Iraq has a long reputation for killing Kurds, it's what they did. It's been going on for years and years and years. And the Provide Comfort was to provide comfort to the Kurds. What was found out after a period of time in doing it was the coalition forces were going in and dropping the food and medicine, the Kurds were coming out of their hiding spots to get it, the caves in the mountains and wherever, and that was what was enticing them to come out and they were being killed more than before we left them alone. So we, the world stopped the Provide Comfort missions because it wasn't providing much comfort when that was what was happening. The Northern Watch itself was, we were not providing that type of aid at all, we were just watching Northern Iraq, Southern Iraq, for the violations, and to watch what Iraq was doing. Well known that Iraq was violating the sanctions and restrictions that were placed on them it was just how many and how serious was it. It was different in that regard. Our job on the AWACS was pretty much the same on whichever mission we were doing again it's a very large surveillance aircraft, and that's what we did.

Mr. Johnston describes the difference between Provide Comfort and Northern Watch missions which he participated in during the Gulf War.

Alonzo Johnston

Mr. Johnston first served with the HSR cadets in Sussex, NB, and joined the regular forces before finishing high school. He joined the air force, but transferred to the navy after his trade as a data processor was closed and contracted out to civilians. In 1981, Mr. Johnston returned to the air force as an air weapons controller, commissioned from navy ranks. After a promotion, Mr. Johnston was posted in Bangor, then Oklahoma with a joint Canadian/American AWACS force. This force was eventually posted in Saudi Arabia during the Gulf War, where Mr. Johnston served as a mission control commander on Northern Watch and Provide Comfort missions. In 1996, Mr. Johnston was reassigned to North Bay, Ontario, where he remained until his retirement in 2002.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Alonzo Johnston
War, Conflict or Mission:
Canadian Armed Forces
Air Force

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