Tag Archives: United Nations

Mark Collins – Canadian Forces into Africa with UN for Three Years: Where? (hint Mali plus…)

Further to this post (note Senegal as logistics hub in “Comments”),

RCAF Chinook Helos for UN Peacekeeping Mali? Canadian Army?

the national defence minister gives a timeline and some details of types of mission but not yet where–and sensibly makes clear that new “peace operations” will not be like “traditional peacekeeping”:

Canada committed to three-year deployment in Africa
Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan said Canada has committed to a three-year deployment in Africa that will be reassessed each year to ensure it has an “enduring” impact.

Canadian troops headed to Africa will operate in dangerous territory where peacekeepers have been killed, says Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan.

In an exclusive interview with the Star from Vancouver Sajjan said Canada has committed to a three-year deployment that will be reassessed each year to ensure it has an “enduring” impact.

It will be spread among a number of unspecified African countries, have a major focus on training and increasing “capacity” of the host nation as well as other countries’ troops, and build on existing social, economic and deradicalization programs on the ground.

“These missions, all of them, have the level of risk where peacekeepers have been hurt, they have been killed. And we’ve been looking at the risk factor in a very serious way,” said Sajjan.

Asked about his approach to deploying Canadian forces to conduct counter-insurgency operations — something the previous Conservative government was keen to avoid in Africa when it turned down requests to deploy soldiers to Congo and Mali — Sajjan said “some of it is going to be the reduction of radicalization in certain areas, in other parts it will be developing the capacity of the host nation [i.e. Mali].”

Just back from Mali, which hosts the deadliest United Nations mission in the world right now, Sajjan says it’s clear there are risks there. He said the same risks exist in the other African missions under consideration by the Liberal government.

But, he added, there are also risks to Canada of doing nothing to counter insurgent groups that are terrorizing populations and radicalizing new recruits, and suggested he and the Liberal government have made this clear to Canadians from “day one.”

“This is not the peacekeeping of the past — we need to look at what the challenges are of today and develop the peace operations for today’s challenges.”

After having travelled to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and Ethiopia in late summer, and Senegal and Mali in the past week — Sajjan said he believes the UN mandate for and rules of engagement with hostile forces are “robust” enough to address the risks, particularly in Mali. The UN mission in Mali, known as MINUSMA, has seen 106 casualties since it was established in 2013, including 69 from “malicious acts.”

“One thing I did learn, the mandate for the mission is robust so there no concern that our troops would be limited in any way,” said Sajjan. “I had a very direct conversation with the political leadership of the UN and the force commander about that, and the safety of our troops is always paramount.”..

Sajjan stressed that a big part of the federal analysis underway — as he, two other federal ministers, and military and civilian fact-finders have travelled to Africa — is examining how Canada’s contribution of some 600 soldiers and up to 150 police can have a maximum impact, whether it’s through military training, building on economic development programs and opportunities like on the “agriculture side” in Mali, or combating sexual violence, including by UN peacekeeping troops…

Sajjan said Canada is looking at spreading its various contributions — military, police and civilian — among a number of UN missions [see list here], not African Union-led missions, in Africa. But it will support African Union efforts at the same time…

Right now, he said, much of the public attention is on exactly where soldiers will be sent.

But he said Canadians should expect a broader mission that could see troops sent to one end of Africa while other elements of Canada’s contribution will be sent to a different part. He said there are troop and police training centres across Africa, and “a small number of troops or even RCMP can have significant impact in other areas, to make a training centre far more effective.”..

Sajjan said the government has “narrowed” the ultimate destinations for its Canadian mission, but did not tip his hand on his preference.

He said there is nothing to be read into the countries he’s travelled to, nor the fact that he recently went to Mali, saying he couldn’t fit it into the earlier trip to central and East Africa. Although he has not travelled to the Central African Republic, Darfur, or South Sudan, Sajjan said he has addressed the same questions around those missions at meetings in Ethiopia late summer.

He said the decision on where to dispatch Canada’s peace support mission is expected to be finalized by the federal cabinet before end of year [emphasis added]…

So a Schwerpunkt in Mali with several penny-packets elsewhere it seems.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Mark Collins – Canada and UN "Peace Operations": Letter of Mine in Globe and Mail

November 8 in print edition–scroll down to the third letter at “War and peace” (links added):

Your editorial recommends that Senegal be the focus for renewed peace operations by the Canadian military (Start In Senegal, For The New Peacekeeping, Nov. 4). But the government has made it clear that the point of such missions is to support UN-led peacekeeping operations; unfortunately, there is no such UN operation in Senegal to support.

It seems much more probable that the government will commit some military personnel to the UN mission in Mali, with Senegal serving as a logistics hub to support both them and the UN mission more broadly.

The editorial also states that “a counterinsurgency in a chaotic, arid country such as Mali … would be outside the experience of most members of the Canadian Armed Forces.” That “arid country” sounds like Kandahar province in Afghanistan where thousands of Canadians fought a counterinsurgency against the Taliban from 2006 to 2011.

How soon we apparently forget.

Recently:

RCAF Chinook Helos for UN Peacekeeping Mali? Canadian Army?

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Mark Collins – RCAF Chinook Helos for UN Peacekeeping Mali? Canadian Army?

Further to these posts,

Canadian UN Peacekeeping in Mali? RCAF Helicopters?

Africa: UN’s CAR MINUSCA Mission to be Canadian Forces’ Schwerpunkt?

a Canadian Forces’ operation in Mali is looking ever more likely. Besides CH-147F transport helos will some armed CH-146 Griffons be sent? Though not attack helicopters, they could certainly provide fire support for today’s killer peacekeeping (more here on that)–but how off-putting might such a quasi-combat role be for our government? And will there be a significant Army contingent? Remember the government has committed to supplying some 600 Forces’ personnel to the UN:

Sajjan heads to Mali, Germans consider attack helicopters, Canada might provide Chinooks

There are reports in the German media that the country’s military is looking at providing Tiger attack helicopters [see here] to accompany RCAF Chinooks for an upcoming mission in Mali.

But the Liberal government says it still has to decide on whether those Chinooks, based in Petawawa, Ontario, – or any other units for that matter – would be heading to a mission in Africa.

Meanwhile, the Canadian Press is reporting [story here] that Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan will travel to Mali and Senegal later this week as the Liberal government considers where to send hundreds of Canadian peacekeepers.

International Development Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau visited Mali in September. Sajjan visited the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania.

In September, the Canadian government sent a team to Mali to do a reconnaissance mission for a potential UN operation in that country. The reconnaissance team included members of the Canadian military, Global Affairs Canada and the RCMP.

The UN mission currently involves around 10,000 military personnel taking part in an effort to stabilize Mali [MINUSMA, website here]. Various armed groups, including Islamic insurgents, have been conducting sporadic attacks in that country. The UN plans to boost the mission by around 2,500 personnel.

The UN has also made it known it would like attack helicopters and transport helicopters to fill the void left by the withdraw of Dutch Chinooks and Apaches [attack helos] from Mali.

“We have decided to continue the Mali mission, but with a reduced capacity,” Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte told reporters Oct. 7. “Dutch helicopters will be withdrawn.”

Sajjan has said that by the end of the year the government expects to make its decision on the next peacekeeping mission. But in his interview with the Canadian Press, he appeared to retreat somewhat on his previous statements. “We need to go into this eyes wide open,” Sajjan said. “So based on that, I have not set a deadline as I want to make sure that we do all the necessary work, so that we can have the meaningful impact.”

The French would certainly welcome as large a Canadian contribution as possible, as would the UN.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Mark Collins – Africa: UN's CAR MINUSCA Mission to be Canadian Forces' Schwerpunkt?

More trial-ballooning from the government (another recent example here on shipbuilding):

Canada peacekeepers seem set for Central African Republic deployment before end of year

The government’s decision on where in Africa to send Canadian peacekeepers will rank as one of its most portentous — if the Liberals get it wrong it could prove fatal to their prospects at the next election [that’s quite the stretch].

This helps explain why, a year after Justin Trudeau proclaimed that Canada is back on the world stage, Canada is not yet back.

The plans appear to have been drawn, scrapped and redrawn in recent months. But sources suggest that if a decision on deployment is not imminent, it will at least come down before the end of the year.

The most likely outcome is that the bulk of Canada’s resources [total up to 600 military, 150 police] will be sent to Central African Republic, the landlocked country of 5 million that ranks 187th out of 188 nations on the human development index [more here and see Canadian government’s advisory: “AVOID ALL TRAVEL“].

It sounds increasingly as if some military resources will also be deployed in neighbouring Mali, where the United Nations mission covets Canada’s Chinook helicopters [see “Canadian UN Peacekeeping in Mali? RCAF Helicopters?“].

But while the Trudeau government is conscious of the need to confront Muslim extremism in Mali, it is keen to resist calls to commit hundreds of combat [surely only if necessary] troops in a country where 32 UN peacekeepers have already died this year.

CAR is considered a much less risky bet for Canadian personnel — according to Walter Dorn, professor of defence studies at the Royal Military College of Canada [and a big booster of UN peacekeeping for Canada]…

The thinking at Global Affairs Canada [the new title of our foreign ministry] (admittedly, often not the same as the thinking inside the Department of National Defence), is that the conflict in the CAR is relatively self-contained — a quasi-peace where some armed groups have already signed up to a disarmament agreement introduced by the newly-elected government.

…a UN special report last spring said CAR has made “considerable progress” since early 2013, when Muslim Séléka rebels forced the government to flee, amidst fighting with mainly Christian anti-balaka militias.

There are currently 10,000 UN troops and 1700 police in the country keeping a kind of peace [Operation MINUSCA], despite outbreaks of violence between armed groups, and incidents like the murder this week of a senior army officer in the capital Bangui, which set off clashes that left 11 dead [see also: “Violence hinders aid delivery in northern Central African Republic: agencies”]…

It is striking how minuscule (good UN mission title?) is the European contribution to the CAR mission–scroll down from latter part of p. 2 PDF here. There are quite a few more Euros in the Mali mission, e.g. Germany, Netherlands, Sweden–p. 5 PDF here; and there is also a major French combat force around, Opération Barkhane.

Meanwhile we see this from the Chief of the Defence Staff; the dithering, to be polite, is getting embarrassing:

Gen. Jon Vance flips and flops on Africa

Posts on (killer) peacekeeping broadly:

Canadian UN Peacekeeping in Mali? RCAF Helicopters? Part 2

“The end of peacekeeping, and what comes next for Canada’s soldiers” [note “Comments”]

It remains ass-backwards to announce the number of military personnel one will commit before deciding on which missions–with which roles therein–one is willing to undertake.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Mark Collins – Iraq: Upcoming Battle for Mosul, Plus Turkey

The latest at the invaluable MILNEWS.ca:

Closer to Mosul Push “Anti-ISIS fight will get harder after Mosul, says Canadian general”“Canadian general: ‘Fall of Mosul is inevitable’ ““Mosul’s Liberation From ISIL ‘Inevitable,’ Canadian General Says” (US DoD Info-machine)“Coalition general: ‘Final rehearsal’ before Mosul fight underway”“Plans Take Shape for Iraqi Assault on Mosul”“Islamic State conflict: How will the battle for Mosul unfold?”
“To Drive ISIS from Mosul, a Complicated Coalition Joins Forces”
“Canadian general warns Islamic State fight will get harder after Mosul”
“Daesh leaders defecting before Mosul operation: general”
“Abadi to Mosul residents: “victory is near” “ – “Iraq Prime Minister Promises Victory In Mosul”
“Iraq: Impending Mosul assault puts 600,000 children in line of fire – Iraq” (Save the Children)
“IS Plans Widespread Destruction in Mosul as Conditions Worsen for Residents”
“Shia Badr forces will consider foreign troops intervene in Mosul battle”
“Turkey’s presence at Bashiqa military camp in northern Iraq is at the request of Kurdish authorities who recognize their forces in the country, Turkey’s deputy prime minister declared on Wednesday, adding that no one has right to object to their presence …”
TUR-IRQ Friction “Turkey-Iraq Tensions Rise as Battle of Mosul Approaches”“Iraq Warns of Regional War With Turkey”“Turkey not in Iraq as occupiers: Deputy PM”“Turkey says it does not aim to be an occupier in Iraq”“Iraq asks UNSC to discuss Turkish presence in N. Iraq”“Iraq seeks emergency UN Security Council session over Turkish military presence”
“Pro-govt Iraq fighters ‘likely’ killed in coalition airstrike near Mosul – US official”“At least 20 Iraqi Sunni tribal fighters die in mistaken air strike”“Pentagon probes pro-govt Iraq fighter deaths in coalition strike”…

Not exactly simple.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Mark Collins – No Canadian UN Peacekeepers for Colombia–Only Africa?

A parochial observation on an important development–more  excellent reporting at the Globe and Mail:

Colombians narrowly reject peace accord to end 52-year war with FARC rebels
Stephanie Nolen

That apparently leaves Africa–the big picture there by CGAI Fellow Jack Granatstein:

Think carefully before deciding to deploy peacekeepers

Very relevant–note the Canadian government sensibly no longer actually refers to “peacekeeping” and note Colombia in latter “Comments”:

“The end of peacekeeping, and what comes next for Canada’s soldiers”

Indeed.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Mark Collins – Fall 2016 Issue of CGAI's "The Dispatch"

The table of contents:

Message from the Editor
by DAVID BERCUSON

Brexit, the Anglosphere and Canada 
by JULIAN LINDLEY-FRENCH

The Obama Moment—Defence Spending Does Matter, eh!
by ALAN STEPHENSON

Are Canada’s Digital Security Policies Being Decided in Washington?
by NEIL DESAI

Canada’s Cyber Security Strategy: Time for a Reset! 
by JOHN ADAMS

Time for Canada to Shine in Space Diplomacy
by CHARITY WEEDEN

For Today’s Peacekeeping, Prepare for War
by ELINOR SLOAN

NATO and Canada’s National Interests
by MIKE DAY

Reviewing the Summer of the Defence Review
by STEPHEN SAIDEMAN

The Inevitable End of the Turkish-Western Alliance
by KYLE MATTHEWS

New Canadian Government Talking the Talk on Climate Change
by DAVID MCLAUGHLIN

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds