Canadian military’s limits to be tested as fears of war with Russia mount

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OTTAWA —
The Canadian army’s limits are set to be examined, specialists say, with trade-offs possible wanted to offset the deployment of tons of of extra troops to strengthen the NATO army alliance’s confrontation with Russia in japanese Europe.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau introduced on Tuesday that Canada will deploy an extra 460 Canadian troops to assist NATO in its standoff with Russia, together with an artillery unit, a naval frigate and a surveillance plane.

The pledge got here days after Defence Minister Anita Anand acknowledged issues about stretching the army too far given its quite a few current commitments at residence and overseas, ageing tools and a rising scarcity of personnel.

Retired lieutenant-general Man Thibault, who beforehand served as vice-chief of the defence workers, mentioned he has “little doubt the Canadian Armed Forces is strained” from all its competing calls for in Ukraine, Latvia and elsewhere.

And whereas there could also be some flexibility, Thibault mentioned the emergence of the disaster in japanese Europe as Canada’s prime worldwide dedication means different missions “might nicely must be reassessed as we have a look at what could be sustained.”

The deployment of a second frigate to Europe, the place Canada already has one positioned on a roughly everlasting foundation, will nearly actually put extra strain on the navy, mentioned defence analyst David Perry of the Canadian International Affairs Institute.

That is as a result of the navy is coping with a scarcity of about 1,000 sailors similtaneously Canada’s 12 Halifax-class frigates are beginning to present their superior age, with a part of the fleet in dock for upkeep and upgrades at any given time.

“We solely have 5 – 6 of them at any given time which can be actually capable of deploy internationally … in order that’s a giant chunk of our fleet, particularly after we’re nonetheless attempting to ship two frigates every year over to Asia,” Perry mentioned of basing two frigates in Europe.

“So the mathematics on simply the supply of individuals and availability of deployable ships begins to get tapped out comparatively fast when you may have a fleet the dimensions of ours.”

The Royal Canadian Navy didn’t instantly reply to questions on the way it deliberate to maintain the deployment of a second frigate to Europe, together with whether or not there have been any plans to reduce its operations within the Asia-Pacific area.

Canada presently has just one frigate, HMCS Montreal, deployed overseas. It’s presently working off the coast of Italy with NATO.

Questions additionally remained in regards to the authorities’s plan to ship a CP-140 Aurora surveillance plane to bolster NATO’s efforts in Europe, with uncertainty over the place the airplane will come from and the place will probably be primarily based.

Such maritime patrol plane beforehand offered intelligence and focusing on info throughout NATO’s conflict in opposition to the Libyan authorities in 2011, in addition to the U.S.-led battle in opposition to the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria.

Extra not too long ago, Auroras have been working alongside Canadian frigates within the Pacific to help with a United Nations-led counter-smuggling effort off the coast of North Korea, recognized by the army as Operation Neon.

Requested when Canada will deploy one other frigate and CP-140 on Operation Neon, Defence Division spokesman Daniel Le Bouthillier mentioned no date had but been set.

“As in any planning course of, the Canadian Armed Forces takes all present components into consideration when planning operations,” he added.

As for the deployment of a 100-soldier artillery unit to Latvia, Perry didn’t see that being a big extra burden on the army, together with from a logistical perspective, given Canada already has 540 different troopers within the Baltic state main a NATO battlegroup.

Nonetheless, he famous Canada has numerous different army commitments, together with the mission in Iraq, the deployment of tons of of army trainers to Ukraine (who’re presently in Poland), and COVID-19 assist at residence.

All of this a time when the Armed Forces has been battered by months of upheaval attributable to contemporary revelations of sexual misconduct and hate throughout the ranks, and seen recruitment and coaching affected by pandemic-related restrictions.

Daniel Minden, press secretary to Anand, mentioned the minister fastidiously thought of power capability with army management.

“Our authorities is assured within the skill of the Canadian Armed Forces to generate ample and sustained capability for these commitments as Canada continues to assist its NATO allies within the face of Russian aggression in Europe,” he mentioned in an announcement.

One of many massive questions over the following month will likely be whether or not, because the Armed Forces ramps up its presence in japanese Europe, the Liberal authorities will resolve to finish or in any other case reduce Canada’s anti-Islamic State mission within the Center East.

The mandate for that mission, which has already shrunk a number of instances lately and presently contains about 350 army personnel, most in Kuwait however some in Iraq, Lebanon and Jordan, is about to run out on the finish of March.

The federal government and army have mentioned little or no in regards to the Islamic State for the previous few years, and College of Ottawa professor Thomas Juneau, certainly one of Canada’s prime Center East specialists, mentioned it is tough to know what the Liberals intend.

“It is a mission they determined to proceed (final yr) as a result of there are good causes to proceed it when it comes to our relationship with the U.S., when it comes to our involvement with NATO and since the Islamic State continues to be a risk to Canada and the west,” he mentioned.

Whereas Juneau argues these components all stay related, the truth is that the character of the mission has modified in lots of respects, with the main target as a lot about checking Iran’s affect as defending in opposition to an Islamic State resurgence.

And all through this evolution, Canada has steadily withdrawn troops from the area; the present deployment is down from about 500 Armed Forces members within the area right now final yr, which itself was a drop from the earlier excessive of 850.

“I might assume that at any time when the federal government comes to a decision (on the anti-Islamic State mission),” Juneau mentioned, “we’ll additionally hear about it very a lot on the final minute and they’ll additionally attempt to reduce the information as a lot as attainable.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first revealed Feb. 23, 2022.



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