Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Is It Time To Reconsider Canada's Iraq Mission?

By: David Pugliese, Defence Watch 
In this July 11, 2017 file photo, airstrikes target Islamic State positions on the edge of the Old City in Mosul, Iraq. Iraq said Saturday, Dec. 9, 2017 that its war on the Islamic State is over. FELIPE DANA / AP PHOTO / FILE
The U.S. and Iraq have declared that the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant is defeated.

But coalition forces are still in Iraq and elsewhere.

There is, however, moves to determine how long that will go on for.

Australian forces are to remain in the region until mid-2018, the Australian government says. There are no plans to cut numbers at this point but Australia is now discussing its future plans with coalition allies and Iraq.

The Liberal government has extended Canada’s mission in Iraq until at least March 2019.

It is still unclear how much of that force will be needed for another year and a half, with ISIL said to be defeated and scattered.

Canadian Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan arrived in the region Dec. 15 and will leave on Dec. 19. He has been to Jordan and will also visit the United Arab Emirates, and Kuwait where he will meet with deployed Canadian Forces personnel.

Sajjan does not appear to be traveling to Iraq, where Canadian special forces and other military personnel are operating.

So what is the current situation with Canadian special forces in Iraq? “Given the fluidity of the current situation, Canada’s Special Operations Task Force’s temporary suspension of the provision of assistance to various elements of Iraqi security forces will continue,” a DND statement noted. “We continue to monitor the situation on the ground and are assessing the next phases of SOF activity.‎”

Following his meetings in the Middle East, Sajjan will travel to London, UK, on December 20, for bilateral meetings with British Secretary of State for Defence, Gavin Williamson.

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