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 “Dutch helicopters will be withdrawn.”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

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