In Multipolarity

Introduction by New Cold, Feb 9, 2016

During the October 19, 2015 federal election campaign in Canada, the opposition Liberal Party led by Justin Trudeau pledged to withdraw Canada’s six, CF18 fighter aircraft from the U.S.-led aerial bombings in northern Iraq and Syria. That pledge was one of the reasons why the Liberals won a strong election victory. After more than ten years of fruitless and destructive Canadian military intervention in Afghanistan, again following the lead of the big brother to the south, the majority of the Canadian population has become war weary.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau flanked by ministers announces 'expanded' military role for Canada in northern Iraq, Feb 8, 2016 (CP photo)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau flanked by ministers announces ‘expanded’ military role for Canada in northern Iraq, Feb 8, 2016 (CP photo)

It took four months to act on the election pledge. Yesterday, Prime Minister Trudeau and the responsible ministers of his government announced the jets will be withdrawn from active combat as of February 22. But this hardly means that Canadian military intervention in the region will end. On the contrary. In announcing withdrawal of jets, the Trudeau government announced a forthcoming increase in ground troops. Prime Minister Trudeau calls it an expanded military role in Iraq. The number of Canadian soldiers in northern Iraq will more than triple, to some 200. On top of that are hundreds of Canadian soldiers, pilots and support personnel, along with aircraft and naval vessels, playing the required support role to the ground intervention in Iraq.

Enclosed are news articles reporting on the Canadian decision.

Canada retools ISIL mission, withdraws jets; ‘engagements’ possible, says Vance

By Mike Blanchfield, The Canadian Press, Feb 8 2016

OTTAWA — Canadian military trainers will likely face “engagements” with enemy Islamic militants in Iraq, but that doesn’t mean they’re taking part in a combat mission, the chief of the defence staff said Monday. Gen. Jonathan Vance offered that assessment as the Liberal government released its long-awaited and retooled strategy in the fight against Islamic militants in Iraq and Syria. The combat sorties being flown by a half-dozen CF-18 jet fighters in the U.S.-led coalition will end by Feb. 22.

In offering his view of Canada’s expanded training mission, Vance went to some lengths to avoid contradicting his boss, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who has insisted trainers would not be involved in combat.

“The prime minister has clearly described it as non-combat” and there’s a “penchant … for people to try and parse the words,” Vance said Monday during a technical briefing that followed Trudeau’s announcement. “In my view, it’s a non-combat mission in that we are not the principal combatants here.”

Canada’s bombing mission against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant will be replaced by what Trudeau called an expanded mission that will focus on training local security forces and helping to rebuild the shattered region.

The number of Canadian military personnel in the region will increase to 830 people — up from the current 650 — to provide planning, targeting and intelligence expertise. The size of Canada’s “train, advise and assist” mission will also triple, including additional medical personnel and equipment including small arms, ammunition and optics to assist in training Iraqi security forces, almost exclusively in the Kurdish north.

“I want Canadians to know that we will be involved in engagements as we defend ourselves or those partners who we are working with,” said Vance. That’s because the “assist function helps them plan, helps them determine how best to accomplish the missions” and by doing that, they “may very well need support in defending them — and in so doing, defending ourselves.”

Vance also said Canadian troops would “mark targets” — designating enemy positions for targeting by air and artillery strikes — to both protect the Iraqi forces and their Canadian trainers.

In an interview, Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion acknowledged that the circumstances of training foreign fighters on the battlefield could demand that the Canadians shoot back. “The ones who have to free their country are the Iraqis,” Dion said. The Canadians won’t be involved in “front line combat,” but “if their life is in danger in different circumstances, then they may have to fight.”

Canada learned the hard way during ten years in Afghanistan that airstrike operations, while useful in the short term for “military and territorial gains,” do not on their own result in long-term stability, said Trudeau. They can also be politically expedient, he suggested — a subtle jab at his Conservative predecessors who sent the jets into Iraq and Syria in the first place.

“We are for what will be effective,” Trudeau said, “not for what will make us feel good to say at any given moment.”

The reconfigured mission — to be extended until the end of March 2017 — includes strategic advisers to help Iraq’s defence and interior ministries. Canada’s CC-150 Polaris refueller and two CP-140 Aurora surveillance planes will also continue to support other coalition partners that are carrying out airstrikes. “We’re going to perfect, in fact, our efforts in targeting so that we can directly support the coalition finding targets for coalition aircraft to strike,” Vance said.

The NDP accused the Liberals of “blurring the line” between combat and non-combat roles. “Liberals are tripling the size of so-called advisers to the Iraqi military, with some forces working in a ‘battlefield context’ and others working to ‘enhance in-theatre tactical transport,'” said critic Helene Laverdiere.

Trudeau said Monday the government would spend more than $1.6 billion over the next three years on the mission as a whole, including on security, stabilization, humanitarian and development assistance in the region. That includes $840 million to provide water, shelter health care, hygiene and sanitation, and $270 million to build capacity in those countries helping refugees from the region.

Trudeau’s announcement comes before Sajjan travels to Brussels for a two-day meeting with his NATO counterparts that begins Wednesday.

Trudeau and U.S. President Barack Obama spoke Monday by phone, and the president “welcomed Canada’s current and new contributions to coalition efforts and highlighted Canada’s leadership in the coalition,” the White House said.

Interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose called the decision wrong-headed. “If he doesn’t think that we should use our military against this group, I don’t know when he thinks we would ever use our military,” Ambrose said. “I think it’s shameful.”

Canada to pull fighter jets, triple training in mission against Islamic State

By Michelle Zulio, The Globe and Mail, Feb 8, 2016

OTTAWA – Canada’s fighter jets will be coming home from the Islamic State fight on Feb. 22, as the military ramps up its training mission in Iraq and Syria.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Monday that Canada’s revised military operation will see the size of its training and assisting mission triple to 207 Special Forces from the current 69, and the total number of Canadian Forces personnel increase to 830 from 650. The mission will continue to be “non-combat,” Mr. Trudeau said. “The Canadian Armed Forces will now be allocating more military resources to training Iraqi security forces. We will be supporting and empowering local forces to take their fight directly to [the Islamic State] so that, kilometre by kilometre, they can reclaim their homes, their land and their future,” he said.

The Special Forces trainers will continue to work near the front lines and paint military targets as a part of their “advise and assist” role. Mr. Trudeau said the Canadian troops will also provide local forces with “light arms.” The government will keep two CP-140 Aurora reconnaissance aircraft and one CC-150 aerial refuelling plane in the mission, he confirmed.

On the humanitarian front, Mr. Trudeau announced more than $1-billion in aid and development support, including $840-million over three years in humanitarian assistance and $270-million for social services on the ground. “We will help them address basic needs, maintain and repair infrastructure, promote employment and economic growth, and foster good governance,” he said.

International Development Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau said the humanitarian aid will not be tied to other aspects of the government’s strategy against the Islamic State.

Mr. Trudeau made the announcement on Monday morning in Ottawa alongside Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion and Ms. Bibeau. He said the government will dedicate more than $1.6-billion over the next three years to the entire revised mission.

Canada’s current mission, which expires on March 31, includes six CF-18 fighter jets bombing Islamic State targets in Syria and Iraq, and 69 Special Forces personnel training Kurdish fighters in northern Iraq. The government wants to extend the mission until March 31, 2017, and Mr. Trudeau committed to bringing the revised mission to Parliament next week for debate and a vote.

The Liberals campaigned on the promise to withdraw Canada’s fighter jets from the U.S.-led coalition against the terror group, a commitment the Conservative opposition has urged the government to reconsider. The former Tory government originally committed the jets to the mission.

On Monday, interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose denounced the government’s withdrawal from the combat mission as a “step backward for Canada.”

“Today, in his first major foreign policy decision, the Prime Minister has shown that Canada is not ‘back.’ In fact, this Prime Minister is taking a shameful step backward from our proud traditions by pulling our CF-18s and Canada out of a combat role against the greatest terror threat in the world,” Ms. Ambrose said in a statement. She said the government’s decision is “inconsistent” with its role of ensuring Canadians’ safety and security at home and abroad, and she accused the Liberals of politicizing the mission during the election campaign.

Speaking to reporters, Mr. Trudeau said that while he believes that there is a role for bombing in the short term, Canada can best help in other ways. He added that he spoke with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, who thanked Canada for its new approach. “The lethal enemy of barbarism isn’t hatred. It’s reason. And the people terrorized by ISIL every day don’t need our vengeance, they need our help. The government of Canada’s new policy on the fight against ISIL is grounded in this belief,” Mr. Trudeau said, using an alternate name to refer to the Islamic State.

Canada has also committed $650-million in humanitarian aid for those affected by the Syrian civil war and $233-million in longer-term development assistance to countries hosting large numbers of Syrian refugees, including Jordan, Egypt and Lebanon.

The government’s announcement comes days before Mr. Sajjan attends a meeting in Brussels on Wednesday and Thursday with his counterparts in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The Defence Minister was not invited to two recent coalition meetings in Paris; he brushed it off, saying meetings are continually being held to discuss threats.

U.S. welcomes revised Canadian mission

The Obama administration welcomed the revised Canadian contribution to the anti-IS campaign Monday with carefully-chosen comments that avoided any direct criticism of Mr. Trudeau’s decision to end combat operations by pulling all six aging Canadian fighter-bombers from the conflict.

However, White House spokesman Josh Earnest made clear that President Barack Obama may seek more than the trainers and intelligence effort announced yesterday in Ottawa. “We going to have continuing discussions with the Canadians about additional steps they can take to further enhance our counter-ISIL efforts,” Mr. Earnest said at the White House briefing. He also confirmed that Mr. Trudeau called Mr. Obama on Monday to explain Canada’s revised role. “Those new commitments are indicative of the kind of close relationship that the United States and Canada enjoy particularly when it comes to our mutual national security.”

The Pentagon put a more positive spin on the end of Canadian combat operations. “There’s important news from north of the border,” said Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook as he opened the daily Defense Department briefing, adding: “The Canadians are tripling their training mission in northern Iraq, doubling their intelligence effort as well as expanding their humanitarian and development effort.” Defense Secretary Ashton Carter “appreciates the decision by the Trudeau government to step up Canada’s role,” Mr. Cook said.

And the State Department said: “Canada has played an important role in the Coalition’s efforts to degrade and destroy ISIL and we welcome its announcement,” adding: “The new Canadian commitment is in line with our current needs, including tripling their training mission in Northern Iraq and increasing their intelligence efforts.”

With a report from Paul Koring in Washington


EDITOR’S NOTE: We remind our readers that publication of articles on our site does not mean that we agree with what is written. Our policy is to publish anything which we consider of interest, so as to assist our readers in forming their opinions. Sometimes we even publish articles with which we totally disagree, since we believe it is important for our readers to be informed on as wide a spectrum of views as possible.

Recent Posts
Contact Us

We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.

Start typing and press Enter to search

Translate »