Canada mulls military training mission in West Africa
December 31, 2012
The Canadian Press
The Harper government is examining whether to dispatch Canadian troops to help train an African force whose purpose would be to take back a vast swath of Mali from an off-shoot of al-Qaeda.
Defence Minister Peter MacKay, speaking in Halifax Sunday, said what form of military assistance can be provided to a growing international swell is something that’s under active discussion.
“What I can tell you is that we are contemplating what contribution Canada could make,” MacKay said at an announcement related to rental housing rates on military bases.
The United Nations recently decided to back a proposal from Economic Community of West African States — ECOWAS — to send 3,300 troops to the region.
Canadian special forces troops were active in the west African country for several training missions prior to the coup last March that installed a shaky interim government. Those missions also took place before Islamic Maghreb — known as AQIM — overran much of the northern portion of the impoverished nation.
“We are not at a point where we would be making an announcement, but as you know, training is something that the Canadian Forces is particularly adept at doing,” MacKay said. “We’ve demonstrated that repeated in the last, well, throughout our history, but certainly the training mission in Afghanistan is a testament to that commitment and that ability and something that has garnered the admiration of recipient nations but also other countries who emulate Canadian training techniques.”