OTTAWA—Canada’s army soon will be bound for Africa, Canada’s top soldier said yesterday, fuelling speculation it will be deployed on a peacekeeping operation to control the spread of terrorism on the continent.
“The army’s been preparing for the future . . . preparing for a wide range of future tasks,” Gen. Jonathan Vance, the chief of the defence staff, told a rain-soaked change-of-command ceremony for the army on the lawn of Parliament Hill.
“Internationally, the army is at the forefront, managing conflicts around the world, contributing to operations in Iraq, [and] building capacity with allies and partners in Poland, Ukraine, and very soon in Africa.”
Vance did not elaborate in front of an audience of several hundred that included military officials, politicians, and diplomats.
“The Canadian Army will be conducting capacity-building training as part of an ongoing program in Africa,” said spokesman Maj. Paul Doucette.
“The chief of the defence staff is also conducting planning for a variety of potential UN missions, which may include army elements deploying to Africa, but no decisions on deployments have yet been taken by the government,” he added.
The remark comes one day after Defence minister Harjit Sajjan said containing the spread of terrorism across Africa is a consideration for Canada as one possible contribution to a UN peacekeeping mission—a core foreign policy goal of the Trudeau Liberals.
Sajjan said the need to control the spread of Islamic militants across the Middle East and Africa is part of the government’s calculation in determining where Canada’s eventual peacekeeping mission will be focused.
Multiple sources have told The Canadian Press that Mali, where the French are leading a UN mission that has seen at least 19 peacekeepers killed this year, is one destination that’s being carefully considered.
Vance and others maintain the Canadian Forces have the capacity to simultaneously help NATO deter Russia on Europe’s eastern border while launching a substantial UN peacekeeping mission.