Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has scheduled a news conference for 10:30 a.m. Monday in Ottawa where he’ll be joined by his defence and international development ministers. The announcement comes days before Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan is due to leave for Brussels for a meeting with his NATO counterparts on Feb. 10-11.
Trudeau has been under pressure from a number of directions to change course on his plan to pull Canadian CF-18 fighter jets out of the air war against ISIL. He has steadfastly said he won’t rethink his election campaign promise.
Trudeau has said Canada can play a more meaningful role by withdrawing its CF-18s and beefing up efforts to train Iraqi ground troops fighting ISIL militants. Here are five ways Canada could help in the fight against ISIL:
Foreign Minister Stéphane Dion confirmed that Italy has asked Canada to provide police trainers to work with its forces in Iraq. Italian Carabinieri have trained Iraqi Federal Police as well as the Iraqi Oil Police, who protect the country’s critical economic infrastructure. The Carabinieri have also expanded their training to include Kurdish police in northern Iraq.
The Canadian military currently has 69 special forces in northern Iraq training Kurdish troops. That presence is expected at least to double in size. Training is conducted in Erbil, Kurdistan, and has involved members of the Canadian Special Operations Regiment as well as Joint Task Force 2.
Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan has said that Canada wants to provide security forces in Iraq with improved medical training. The focus of the training is aimed at improving the survival chances of those wounded on the battlefield.
The U.S., has asked Canada to keep its two Aurora surveillance aircraft involved in the air campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. The planes were originally designed to hunt submarines. But upgrades on their sensors have transformed them into aircraft that can track ground targets and collect images, even when cloud cover is heavy. By feb. 3, the Auroras had conducted 396 reconnaissance missions.
The RCAF’s CC-150T Polaris aircraft has been busy refuelling coalition fighter jets and other planes. The U.S. has asked Canada to keep the Polaris assigned to the coalition air mission. As of Feb. 3, the CC-150T Polaris aerial had conducted 368 sorties, delivering 21,615,000 pounds of fuel to coalition aircraft.
Sources: Postmedia News Interviews, Department of National Defence, NATO