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Canada in Afghanistan
On September 20, Minister of National Defence Art Eggleton authorized more than 100 CF members serving on exchange programs in the U.S. and with other allied military forces to participate in operations conducted by their host units in response to the September 11 terrorist attacks.
On October 4, NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson announced that, in response to the terrorist attacks in the U.S., the North Atlantic Council (NATO's senior advisory body) had decided to invoke Article 5 of the Treaty of Washington, which states that any attack on a NATO nation launched from outside that nation shall be interpreted as an attack on all the NATO nations. Canada is acting in self-defense pursuant to Article 51 of the UN Charter. Canada, as an active member of NATO, stands ready to fulfill its responsibilities within the alliance.
On October 7, Prime Minister Chrétien stated that Canada would contribute to the international force being formed to conduct a campaign against terrorism. This potential contribution included a range of air, land and sea forces. The same day, General Henault, the Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS), issued warning orders to several CF units to ensure their readiness. Operation APOLLO, was then established in support of the U.S. initiative, which was code-named Operation ENDURING FREEDOM.
On October 8, Minister Eggleton announced the details of Canada's contribution to the campaign against terrorism. Canada's initial commitment for the coalition involved about 2,000 CF members. Navy units were the first to engage in the campaign against terrorism. Deployments began immediately.
On October 8, HMCS Halifax (crewed by about 230 persons) was ordered to leave the NATO Standing Naval Force Atlantic (STANAVFORLANT) and join the naval forces of the coalition, thus becoming the first Canadian unit operating in the campaign against terrorism. After making the voyage to the North Arabian Sea, HMCS Halifax was integrated into the USS Carl Vinson Carrier Battle Group to participate in maritime interdiction operations and perform screening duties.
On October 17, a naval task group comprising the destroyer HMCS Iroquois, the replenishment ship HMCS Preserver and the frigate HMCS Charlottetown, crewed by about 850 persons and carrying four Sea King helicopters, set sail from Halifax, N.S. to conduct a short series of exercises in Canadian waters and then make the transit to the Arabian Sea with Preserver in the task group, the deployment was self-sufficient. The task group arrived in the North Arabian Sea on November 20.
HMCS Charlottetown reported to the American Amphibious Ready Group (ARG, a formation with landing-assault capabilities) for duty as an escort ship. After assisting French and U.S. vessels with maritime interdiction operations in the Arabian Gulf, HMCS Iroquois joined Charlottetown in the ARG. During this period, HMCS Preserver was conducting replenishment at sea (RAS) operations in the Arabian Sea.
On October 30, the frigate HMCS Vancouver deployed from Esquimalt to San Diego, California, for integration training with the USS John C Stennis Carrier Battle Group until November 9. On November 12, Vancouver set sail with the battle group from San Diego for southwest Asia via Pearl Harbor, training with the other ships of the formation on the way. HMCS Vancouver is currently operating in the Arabian Sea.
On December 5, having completed several weeks of intensive training, the frigate HMCS Toronto departed Halifax to replace HMCS Halifax in STANAVFORLANT. As well as her normal complement, Toronto carries a Sea King Helicopter Air Detachment from 12 Wing Shearwater, N.S. STANAFORLANT is operating in the Mediterranean sea.
On January , the Minister of National Defence announced that Canada is sending approximately 750 soldiers to Afghanistan as part of Operation APOLLO, the Canadian contribution to the United States-led coalition campaign against terrorism (Operation Enduring Freedom). Members of the 3rd Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry (3 PPCLI) Battle Group will deploy to Kandahar as part of a U.S. Army task force by mid-February.
"After closely examining the military situation on the ground and consulting with our allies, we will provide a battle group to support the U.S. operation in the Kandahar area," said Minister Eggleton. "The PPCLI Battle Group and the Canadian soldiers slated to participate in this mission are among the most skilled and professional in the world. They will make an important contribution to the overall coalition efforts to fight terrorism and fulfil the mandate of bringing peace and stability to Afghanistan."
3 PPCLI Battle Group is a light, fully mobile force designed to respond quickly to overseas missions, making it well suited for evolving operations. It is composed of two rifle companies from 3 PPCLI along with the appropriate support elements, and is joined by a reconnaissance squadron from the Lord Strathcona's Horse (Royal Canadians) using Coyote light armoured reconnaissance vehicles, which include high tech surveillance and long-range detection systems. Both units are based in Edmonton. Their mission will include a number of tasks ranging from security operations to allow for humanitarian supplies delivery to the Afghan population, to the conduct of combat operations.
"The Americans specifically requested the proven state-of-the-art capabilities of the Coyote, making the Canadian contribution extremely valuable to the task force operations," said Minister Eggleton.
"This mission is not without risks," adds General Ray Henault, Chief of Defence Staff. "But these troops are trained, equipped and ready to carry out these important tasks. This expertise is valued by the U.S. and our other allies and it is the reason why Canada has been asked to participate in this important coalition mission."
The deployment dates are currently under discussion. However, it is understood that the battle group is expected to be in place in Afghanistan by mid-February.
The 3 PPCLI Battle Group will join approximately 1,700 CF members already deployed in South West Asia and is expected to operate in the region for up to six months.
The Canadian battle group's operations will complement the work of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) by contributing to the pursuit of their common objective of helping the Afghan people restore peace and stability to their country.
The CF are involved in the elimination of the threat of terrorism by supporting the U.S.-led campaign against terrorism. Canada has committed almost 3,000 members to Operation APOLLO. Canada established an organization called Canadian Joint Task Force South West Asia as part of our contribution to a coalition made up of many nations. Canada has thus far provided a forward Headquarters co-located with the U.S. Central Command in Tampa, Florida, five ships, one CC-150 Polaris aircraft, two CP-140 Aurora aircraft, and a component of the JTF-2. Canada has also offered three CC-130 Hercules transport aircraft.
DATE-TIME: January 7, 2002 11:30 a.m.
LOCATION: National Defence Headquarters, Ottawa
PRINCIPAL(S): The Honourable Art Eggleton, Minister of National Defence; General Ray Henault, Chief of Defence Staff
topIC: Defence Minister Art
Eggleton and Chief of Defence Staff General Ray Henault Give a
News Conference on Deployment of Canadian Forces in
Hon. Art Eggleton: Good morning everyone. Bonjour. Let me wish you first of all a happy new year, bonne année. And I'm joined for this announcement today with the Chief of Defence Staff, General Ray Henault.
J'aimerais annoncer aujourd'hui que le Canada enverra 750 membres des Forces canadiennes en Afghanistan dans le cadre de l'opération Apollo. Today I'm announcing that we're sending approximately 750 members of the Canadian Forces to Afghanistan as part of Operation Apollo in direct support of the coalition against terrorism.
You will recall that in November these troops were put on notice to deploy. Since that time we have been in discussions with both the United States and the United Kingdom to see where we could make the most effective contribution to this ongoing campaign. After consulting with our allies and closely examining the military situation on the ground, we have decided to provide a battle group to support the US operation in the Kandahar area. The Canadian land force contingent will deploy to this area and will work with a United States brigade combat team.
The battle group will consist of two infantry companies of the 3rd Battalion of the PPCLI, one reconnaissance squadron from the Lord Strathcona's Horse and a logistics group from the Number One Service Battalion. All of these troops are coming from Edmonton. The reconnaissance squadron will include 12 Canadian-made Coyote reconnaissance vehicles. The Americans specifically requested the proven state-of-the-art capabilities of the Coyotes which include high tech surveillance and long range detection systems. They saw how successfully these Coyotes worked during the Kosovo campaign.
Command of the battle group will remain with the Canadian operational command, with the Chief of Defence Staff at the top. Daily operational control, however, will be with the United States forces. Cette mission pourrait durer jusqu'à six mois. Le déploiement de nos troupes vers l'Afghanistan devrait débuter sous peu et être complété à la mi-février. The mission will last up to six months. We expect to commence movement of these troops to Afghanistan shortly and that to be completed by mid-February. In fact the Americans are anxious that we get there even sooner and we will work with them to try to accomplish that.
Now once in the area of operations, they will carry out a range of activities including potential combat operations to destroy residual Taliban and Al-Qaeda pockets. They will also work in security in the Kandahar area including security at the airport. They will be involved in sensitive site exploration such as abandoned Al-Qaeda training camps, will be involved in military demining efforts and they'll also be involved in support for humanitarian assistance for the people in the Kandahar area.
This mission is not without risks but our troops are trained, are equipped, and they're ready to carry out these important tasks. The Americans recognized this when they asked the Canadian Forces, and only the Canadian Forces, to operate alongside their troops.
With this latest commitment, approximately 2,500 members of the Canadian Forces will be involved in the area with further deployments possibly bringing that closer to the 3,000 level. Canada is playing a significant role in the campaign against terrorism. We in fact are the fourth largest contributor to this campaign at this point in time. And this includes from our six ships, five of them in the Arabian Sea and one in the eastern Mediterranean, their embarked helicopters - and the Sea Kings are performing exceedingly well in their mission on a day-to-day basis - our airbus, which has transported almost two million pounds of equipment and some personnel into the area for our allies, our Aurora aircraft, which as of today are on patrol, are in operation over the Arabian Sea, and of course our commando JTF-2 special operation unit of some 40 people who have been operational the last few weeks in Afghanistan.
The land force contribution further builds on Canada's commitment to help in the elimination of the threat of global terrorism. It also builds our commitment to rebuild international peace and security. The Kandahar operation and the International Security Assistance Force operating under the British in Kabul are complementary. Together they will provide for a stable environment within which the reconstruction and the rehabilitation of Afghanistan can take place.
In closing I would like to thank all members of the Canadian Forces who have been waiting patiently since November for the details of this operation to be finalized. It's been a difficult time for both them and for their families, particularly at this holiday time of the year. Their commitment and their professionalism are exemplary and I know that those who will undertake this mission will give all Canadians every reason to be proud of what they can and will accomplish. Thank you very much. Merci beaucoup.
I will now take your questions together with the Chief of Defence Staff, General Henault.
Question: John Ward from CP. Just to make it clear, this is not a UN-mandated operation? We're part of an operational force with the US.
Hon. Art Eggleton: It's not the same UN mandate as the British-led mission in Kabul. This is the mission that all of our other troops are there under UN Article 51 which is the self-defence provision and as you know with the invoking of Article 5 of the NATO Charter, Canada has entered into what we will call a collective self-defence and so it was under those provisions that we sent our ships into the Arabian Sea, that we've sent our aircraft into the area. It's the same provision under which we now send the 750 troops to the Kandahar area.
Question: A follow-up question. How are we going to get the Coyotes there? Will the Americans provide heavy transport?
Hon. Art Eggleton: Yes, there will be a combination of us providing and them providing. We have Hercules that are capable of providing some heavy transport but when you get into big vehicles we need these, we need the C-17s. We are working on them with that now. We are assured that that will be accomplished. They are quite well aware of our need for this strategic lift as it's called, transportation in the area and we're working on the details of that now. But that will be worked out.
Question: John Ward from CP. Minister, can you give us some -- you mentioned potential combat conditions. Can you give us some idea of the rules of engagement we'll be operating under?
Hon. Art Eggleton: The rules of engagement are being finalized now. The details of that are being worked out now. General, if you want to add to that.
Gen. Ray Henault: Yes, you're absolutely right, Minister, and the rules of engagement will be consistent with and similar to the rules of engagement for other coalition forces, land forces in the region. We will undoubtedly review those and ensure that any Canadian applications are inserted but in essence they're very complementary to and very similar to the coalition-based rules of engagement.
Question: A supplementary - will we be allowed -- I mean often we're restricted to use of force only in self-defence. Will we be able to take offensive action against aggressive groups or individuals?
Gen. Ray Henault: Absolutely. That's absolutely correct. Self-defence is in fact not part of a rule of engagement - that's an inherent right that you have to self-defence and to defend yourself in whatever way you need to. The rules of engagement will allow for combat operations and will allow for any measures that are needed to be taken to accomplish the mission.
Question: Valerie Lawton from the Toronto Star. Minister, I wonder if you could talk a little bit more about how this mission came about, how did discussions start with the Americans and how were the Brits involved?
Hon. Art Eggleton: Well, it started just before Christmas, the discussion about this specific mission of joining the Americans and at that time we were in discussion with the British about the Kabul mission. And we very early on in our discussions with the British, earlier that month and even the month before had said that if we get into this kind of a mission that we have our thousand-person force out of Edmonton that is ready to go and participate. They came back to us and said what they would prefer that we do at that point in time is provide 200 engineers and not provide our infantry battalion at that time but that we consider providing our infantry battalion in three months' time when they would be leaving and their idea was that we would replace them, the British, with our infantry battalion but that the command would probably pass from the British to the Turkish, considered to be an advantage having a Muslim country involved in this mission and Turkey had indicated some willingness to be part of the leadership. So they wanted our infantry there but not at the initial point in time and the reason for that is that they had some 17 countries, many of them European, wanting to be part of the mission. And in fact a number of European countries said well, this is a European-led mission, this is a European Union kind of mission. So I think quite clearly European politics became a part of this decision-making process and I want to say that having watched some of the -- certain critics in the last couple of weeks talking on this subject that they're absolutely wrong in suggesting that we weren't wanted and weren't wanted to be part of that mission. But the basis on which they wanted us was some engineers now and an infantry battalion later.
Now one of the difficulties with the engineers now was because if we extracted, for example, from this PPCLI group, there would be about 50 engineers. If we extracted them from that then it would render the balance of the cohesive team inoperable in terms of a mission and we would have to borrow from other elements as well to do that. So it didn't make sense for us to do that. However, we could have and we were considering the provision of the infantry battalion at a later stage to replace the British in three months' time when along came the request from the United States and so we pursued that matter and we've now concluded an agreement to participate in that mission.
Hon. Art Eggleton: Well, they will fully cooperate with this. Remember, this comes under the original mandate, even before there was an interim government. This comes under the US mandate which we're now part of the collective defence and working with them on. This is under Article 51 of the UN Charter and is part of the self-defence ---
Question: So they haven't said you're welcome to come.
Hon. Art Eggleton: They have said that the United States is quite welcome to be there. We're part of that mission as well. In fact there's already troops there, already United States troops there. What they're doing is replacing them with a new unit which includes some Canadians. They have absolutely -- the Afghanistan government has no problem with that and they have no problems with Canadians being there now as we are already there with our JTF-2 special operations group. It's not the same situation as Kabul. Kabul and this whole question of Chapter 7 of the UN and the specific resolution that came out of the Security Council is for a different purpose, a different kind of mission. We're going in there under the same provisions that we sent our JTF-2 in there, same provisions we sent our navy over there, that we sent elements of our air force over there, all relevant to Article 51 of the UN Charter.
Question: Sheldon Alberts with the National Post. Just to follow-up to your last answer, you talked about a little bit of politics being at play with the European Union but it sounds like the politics extends a little bit farther than that. Are you in essence saying that you weren't satisfied with the British offer and therefore went to the United States to see what better role Canada might play, that the British in effect were trying to marginalise the Canadian troops?
Hon. Art Eggleton: No, I don't think it's a question of that. We wanted to -- no, I don't believe that's the case at all. They had a lot of countries that wanted to participate. Many of them are members of the European Union, are European countries that they wanted to have participating. They said we have -- I talked with my counterpart, the defence minister in the UK. He said we have an abundance of infantry, including yours. But we would like you to consider the 200 engineers now and the infantry battalion in three months from now. Now, we didn't go shopping if that's what you're suggesting. We in fact were approached by the Americans about this other possibility and we felt that that was a more effective way to use our people. We'd put an offer of a thousand and we felt as many of them that could be involved the better because they are a cohesive team. They've trained together. They're quite capable of this kind of mission. We wanted as many of them to be as involved as there could be. And this proposition from the United States in Kandahar I think is the best one for us to participate in. It comes down to that simply.
Question: Okay. Again as a follow-up, last week again many former military commanders and defence critics were suggesting basically that Canada couldn't sustain a full battle group overseas and that was the reason they were saying the British didn't want us. I'm wondering what you think specifically of all the criticism that's been levelled in the last couple of weeks, what impact it may have had on (inaudible).
Hon. Art Eggleton: Some people are living in the past. They're wrong. You know, there's no doubt we have challenges, we have resource challenges. We all know that. But I can tell you that we would never ask our troops to go on any mission that we would not properly train them for, equip them for and give them the resources, i.e., money, to be able to do that job and do that job effectively. We take that position, that policy position of our government very seriously whenever we're going to put the life of our men and women in the Canadian Forces on the line. Now some critics may argue well, can we sustain them for a year or two years or something like that? But let me tell you, when we send them on any mission we make sure that they have the tools they need to be able to do the job. And those certain critics are absolutely wrong. They're getting into sensationalism. It's irresponsible. Our troops are going to be able to carry out this mission. And you know, with this contribution - as I said, we're the fourth largest contributor to this coalition. We were one of the first to be there to say that we're with the United States, we're with our allies in this fight against terrorism and we are making a meaningful and significant contribution.
Question: Tom Perry with CBC Radio. Given the information you're getting out of Afghanistan I guess -- I wonder if you could say how risky this operation is, how likely it is that Canadian Forces will face armed opposition over in Afghanistan?
Hon. Art Eggleton: It's quite possible that will be the case but as we've said, as I said in my opening statement, we have troops that are professional, they're dedicated. They are trained. They are equipped to be able to do the job that is necessary. I'll ask General Henault if he has anything he wants to add to that.
Gen. Ray Henault: No, that's absolutely correct. This mission is not without risks, there are no doubts about that and we've seen that the Afghanistan region itself has a number of risks that are still outstanding include Al-Qaeda and Taliban forces which are still in the region. There are landmines. There are all sorts of environmental risks. With all that in mind, though, we will equip and train and we already have trained the force for what it needs to face in the region and it will be equipped and supported in the way that it needs to do to do the job.
Question: Would this be probably the most dangerous mission that Canadian Forces have been on since the Gulf War, since Kosovo?
Gen. Ray Henault: Well, I would remind you that in the last 10 years or so we've been involved in combat operations on more than one occasion. You've alluded to the Gulf War. We've also been involved in combat operations in Bosnia, in the UNPERFOR time frame. Kosovo was not without its own risks as well in the land context and we were of course involved in the bombing campaign so we have been involved in combat operations over the last little while and we're well attuned to what is required from both a training leadership and capabilities perspective.
Hon. Art Eggleton: We're good at peacekeeping but if we have to be involved in combat we can do that too. We've demonstrated that time and time again in history. Canadians know how to fight when they have to fight.
Question: Allan Thompson, Toronto Star. Minister Eggleton, you suggested that this is a fixed time limit of six months on this deployment. If that's the case, what's the exit strategy? Do we rely on the United States to transport us out of Afghanistan as well?
Hon. Art Eggleton: That's all part of what we are working out. Yes, of course, whatever arrangements in terms of getting us in we will be also talking about arrangements to get us out. We will look at this situation further as we go down towards the end of that six-month period in terms of what happens from that point.
Question: So it is a fixed six months as in
Question: And a follow-up question, what kind of weapons systems in addition to the Coyotes? What are they taking to engage in this combat operation?
Gen. Ray Henault: Well, I don't necessarily want to get into the full range of weapons that they're going to take with them for operational security reasons but they have the full range of small arms that they carry and that they train on and are well equipped to use and they have a range as well of indirect fire support and direct fire support weapons and all that they need to actually do the job in whatever way they're asked to do it.
Question: Vivian Lee with City Pulse News. I wanted to ask Minister Eggleton could you elaborate on your opening remarks when you said that there was a possibility of further deployments? Right now with this deployment we come to 2,500 troops but you also mentioned there was a possibility so do you see that this campaign could be long and drawn out and there might be more of a Canadian troop commitment?
Hon. Art Eggleton: No, what I meant by that was we have some additional aircraft, Hercules aircraft that have yet to be deployed but they were part of the original offer and they would involve another two or three hundred people so we could be getting very close to 3,000 if all of our assets and our personnel are drawn upon that have been offered as part of this mission. But it's been done in stages and it was only recently that the Aurora aircraft were deployed so that now leaves the Hercules aircraft to be deployed. But we expect that to happen before long as well.
Question: And pursuant to that, the role that we're going to play is going to be taking place under American command so how significant a role do you see Canadian troops playing if they're taking their cues from an American-led team?
Hon. Art Eggleton: This is the usual kind of practice. We've been in a leadership position as well. For example, in Bosnia not too long ago where we were in the control, day-to-day command and control position of other troops. We work with our allies. Sometimes we're in command. Sometimes they're in command. But on an overall basis in terms of what we do, the mission that we're involved with, the command still remains with the Chief of Defence Staff and perhaps he could expand upon that.
Gen. Ray Henault: We do retain command at my level and it's delegated in the appropriate ways through to the brigade combat team commander. Yes, we will take our direction if you like, our operational control from an American commander on the ground and that's the normal way that operations are done in a coalition. But I would also remind you that we will have Canadian staff officers within the brigade headquarters complex and they will also participate in the decision-making process which again is fed back to us through not only the brigade combat team but through the land component commander in the region as well as through our coordinators and our task force commander in Tampa. So we have a very direct relationship and responsibility chain that follows through.
Question: Randall Palmer from Reuter's. Minister, you seem to be trying to convince us that Canadian Forces are wanted yet the fact is that Canadian Forces will not be deployed on the ground until four or five months after September 11th. Why do you think that the United States hasn't asked for your forces in large numbers aside from JTF-2 on the ground until now?
Gen. Ray Henault: This is very normal practice with a coalition operation and this again is something that's very new for us. This coalition is the first of its kind in this respect. It has taken many turns and many different directions over the last several months and we have fit into the process very effectively so far. We've put a number of offers on the table right at the outset of this campaign. Many of those offers of forces and capabilities were taken up immediately in terms of the naval assets and other air assets as well as the Joint Task Force 2 capability that was deployed. This is the appropriate time now after the evolution and the current status of the program for us to get involved in playing our part and doing some burden sharing with our American counterparts and other coalition counterparts in the land component or in the land force operations that are being done in theatre. That all is very consistent with what you've seen as well in terms of the International Security Assistance Force which is going in in the aftermath of the standup of the new government in Afghanistan and so on so all of it is very predictable and is not reflective at all of whether our capabilities were wanted earlier. This is when they fit into the capability requirement and this is when we're deploying them.
Hon. Art Eggleton: I might add this is the first time that the Americans have asked a coalition ally to join them on the ground with their operations in Afghanistan. This is the first time they've done that for any country and they asked Canada first.
Question: Can you explain a little bit more why you chose that offer over the British offer? Is there an element of pride that you didn't want to ---
Hon. Art Eggleton: No, it's a matter of where we can be most effective. As I said, we have this infantry battalion that has trained together, that are quite capable of making a participation -- a meaningful contribution in their participation at about the thousand level. We wanted as much of that to be deployed as could be in the most effective way possible in support of the coalition effort. We did not say no to the possibility of following on in Kabul to the British until this came along and we had to decide one or the other. We believe that this was the most effective way to use our troops and that's what we're doing.
Question: David Gamble, Sun Media. Two questions or clarifications. Canada's role in transporting the Coyotes -- the Americans you say are going to take the heavy equipment and Canada will transport other -- we are not planning to rent any super transport planes from other countries in any way to do this?
Hon. Art Eggleton: I can't say for sure how. There is always the possibility of commercial aircraft. There are several scenarios. There are several options. But we are assured that that will all be looked after. The Americans understand we need to work together in terms -- all of our allies have this same challenge of being able to get the transportation. It's not just Canada. It's all of our allies have this need and even the United States. As many of the C-17s and the other aircraft they have for that purpose, they rent them as well. They go to the private commercial sector and rent aircraft as well for that very purpose. So there's nothing unusual or particularly Canadian about this problem and we are working with them in terms of how it's going to be done.
Question: Just to clarify on the -- do we have the resources -- because you know very well that we often commit ourselves to missions and Cyprus is the best example, we were only going to be there for a short time. We were there for years and years and years. Do we have the resources to rotate this mission out? Do we have the troops back home to replace these guys and these women?
Hon. Art Eggleton: It is possible to do that but we're going to cross that bridge when we come to it. There's only a determination to go up to six months on this particular mission. If we were to go beyond six months there would have to be a rotation. You know you cite Cyprus. That's many years ago. How about more recent ones? How about East Timor where we went in for six months, we came out in six months? How about Ethiopia and Eritrea? We went in for six months, we came out in six months. People said we would never go into the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia for only 30 days and still come out. They said, oh, you'll be there long after that. We came out in 30 days. So the mission is specifically designed to go up to six months. And if there's something needs to be considered beyond that, then we will consider it beyond that and we are capable beyond that.
Question: Mark (inaudible), (inaudible) Press. The president of the United States has said that the Americans are prepared to go anywhere to hunt down terrorism and destroy the source of this terrorism. Are we willing to follow them as we have in this situation to other parts of that region?
Hon. Art Eggleton: We or any other country or even the United States have not made any specific commitment with respect to other countries and a military mission. We are all committed to the fight against terrorism. We all know that that's multi-dimensional, that it's not just military but it's cutting off funds, it's cutting off recruitment, it's doing all of a wide range of activity to destroy the Al-Qaeda and other terrorist networks which we know are located in many different countries of the world. But it could be that in many different cases that cooperation will be received from those governments to help do that and that is certainly what is hoped for. In every case the military option should be the last option and certainly in terms of further military operations no decisions have been made by any government, including the United States, with respect to that. The determination, though, is strong in the United States, strong in Canada and strong everywhere else. We cannot take for granted that the activities in Afghanistan are going to be all that is necessary to bring down the Al-Qaeda or to bring down terrorism. And it's the overall fight against terrorism which we're solidly committed to.
Hon. Art Eggleton: The sixth ship. We have five ships in the Arabian Sea. I went to visit one in fact recently, our supply ship, which was supplying additional fuel to a United States frigate while I was there. We have one ship in the eastern Mediterranean because it's part of the NATO STANAFORLANT as it's called which is the NATO Standing Force in the Atlantic. Now the NATO Standing Force in the Atlantic has been moved over to the eastern Mediterranean outside of its normal operational area as a support for the efforts in the theatre of operations so it is fully along with its NATO allies part of the overall effort in the fight against terrorism so we have six ships all together.
Question: Daniel LeBlanc, Globe and Mail. Can General Henault expand on what you expect from the troops over there and what situation they'll be under? Just expand on what you expect over there from the troops?
Gen. Ray Henault: This is in the context of our land force that's now about to deploy?
Question: Yes, exactly.
Gen. Ray Henault: Well, I expect they're going to make a very meaningful contribution to the coalition activity in the area especially with our reconnaissance vehicles and with the light dismounted infantry capability that the land force represents with a light battalion which is what the IRFL, the Immediate Reaction Force Land, represents. They're going to be doing a number of missions and tasks which will support activity in and around Kandahar providing security for the airport, for example, security for the Kandahar area, doing as the minister has already mentioned, site exploitation, and that is going into sites that have already been attacked or have been now neutralized and will provide what is required to streamline both the activities that are underway in terms of detention of prisoners and so on and also smoothing the way for humanitarian assistance. So they have a very wide range of capabilities that are required, including, if required, combat operations. Knowing how the land force western area and in particular the PPCLI have trained and prepared for this mission, I have everything to say good about what they're going to do and full confidence in their capability to accomplish the mission that's being asked of them. I suspect as other forces in the region are doing now, they're going to shine in response to this challenge. As the minister has mentioned, he was in the region over the Christmas period and so was I. I've had tremendous feedback from our coalition leads, the US and other coalition leaders in the region who are very high in their praise for Canadian Forces capability there whether it's naval assets or air activity in the region, especially with the airbus and now our maritime patrol aircraft and also with the capabilities of our special operations forces. So we're doing again what we've always done and that's punching above our weight and we're very confident in everything that we're going to do.
Hon. Art Eggleton: I think it's important also to add that what our navy is doing is an important contribution. They're not directly in Afghanistan - obviously Afghanistan is landlocked but there is a lot of Al-Qaeda operations in and around that Arabian Sea/Gulf area and it's important to keep an eye on ships going in and out of that area which can be smuggling arms in or out or can be smuggling people in or out. So it's important to keep a very close eye on that and to provide the kind of force protection for the Americans who have been serving in the land force, the marines in particular of recent time, in Afghanistan. So they're playing a very vital and significant role as well.
Question: And in Afghanistan what are the main dangers there? Is it isolated dangers, landmines, snipers or is it still -- you know are you still in combat with armed troops, organized armed troops?
Gen. Ray Henault: There are still pockets of Al-Qaeda and Taliban in the country, obviously, and those are always and will remain a threat. There are also the landmine threats that are very real and landmines all over the country, landmines, both personnel and antitank landmines and as well the environmental threats that come with not only the type of terrain that they'll be operating in which is rocky and very isolated but also the heat and in some cases the cold because they will be operating in winter conditions as well, something that we're very capable of. So there are a number of challenges that they're going to have to face, not the least of which is the cultural challenge and being attuned to Afghanistan and what its ultimate and long term needs are.
Question: Geneviève (inaudible), Radio-Canada. Donc les troupes canadiennes ne feront pas partie de la force internationale de stabilisation et de support à la sécurité là, décidée par la résolution de l'ONU. Est-ce qu'on doit conclure que la mission à Kandahar sera plus dangereuse, sera moins une mission de paix, de maintien de la paix traditionnelle comme on est (inaudible) habituellement et à quel genre de danger doivent nos troupes s'attendre?
Gen. Ray Henault: La mission à Kandahar n'est pas une mission de maintien de la paix, c'est exactement ça. C'est une mission de maintien de sécurité et de stabilité et si nécessaire l'engagement dans des opérations de combat, tout ça pour maintenir la sécurité et la stabilité autour de Kandahar incluant l'aéroport aussi bien que les environs de Kandahar. Alors les risques sont quand même élevés dans tous les cas. C'est un risque moyen à haut et puis dans ce cas ici les risques seront peut-être différents de celles qui auraient été -- ou les risques qui auraient été envisagés à Kabul même ou dans les environs de Kabul.
Question: Pourquoi on croit que ça sera différent?
Gen. Ray Henault: Parce que les opérations vont être faites plus largement. Ils vont être plus largement dans le pays même et en appui à des opérations qui ne sont pas nécessairement axées tout simplement vers l'assistance humanitaire et le maintien de la sécurité dans une zone particulière, c'est-à-dire Kabul ou les aéroports mais plutôt dans les environs et dans des zones un peu plus dangereuses.
Question: Une autre question, si je peux me permettre. J'aimerais savoir, on a plaidé auprès des Britanniques qu'on ne voulait pas diviser le bataillon Princesse Patricia, qu'on voulait les laisser entier, donc mille soldats. Alors comment se fait-il qu'on envoie seulement 750 soldats à Kandahar?
Gen. Ray Henault: C'est parce que la composition de la force qui nous a été demandée est un peu différente de qu'est-ce qu'on avait idéalement avec le bataillon lui-même. Ça inclut en plus comme a déjà mentionné le ministre les éléments de reconnaissance. Alors le mixe est un peu différent. C'est quand même deux de trois compagnies qui auraient formé le bataillon qui est maintenant deux compagnies plus une compagnie de -- un escadron en effet de reconnaissance. Alors ça change un peu le chiffre total mais c'est encore un complément bien formé, bien adopté et bien entraîné. En fait, ils ont tous un entraînement ensemble.
Question: Robert Geroux, Radio-Canada Internationale. Monsieur Henault, est-ce que vous pouvez rependre en français, élaborer un peu sur quel genre d'activités les Canadiens vont prendre part là-bas?
Gen. Ray Henault: Les Canadiens vont prendre part avec les Américains en fait dans un groupe de combat, une brigade de combat, ce qu'on appelle un Combat Team, Brigade Combat Team, vont prendre part à des activités de sécurité et de stabilité autour de Kandahar, c'est-à-dire l'aéroport et aussi bien les environs de Kandahar. Ils vont prendre part dans le maintien de la stabilité dans la région même. En plus ils vont faire des opérations de patrouille aussi bien que des opérations de combat si nécessaire et finalement ils vont assister à l'implémentation ou le trans-shipment si on veut d'aide humanitaire si nécessaire.
Question: Et dans la région de Kandahar ça inclut dans quel genre de contexte? Il y a d'autres nations qui sont présentes là?
Gen. Ray Henault: Non, ça va être tout simplement les Américains et les Canadiens qui vont faire part de cette mission.
Question: Norm (inaudible), Edmonton Journal. Can you be a little more specific on timing, when they're going to start moving out of Edmonton, how they're staggered?
Gen. Ray Henault: The timeline that we have for deployment, the instinct timeline if you like is the 15th of February. They would like us in position and ready to operate by that time. However, they would appreciate us being there more quickly if possible and so we are now working very closely with our American counterparts and we have a very high level of interoperability with the Americans so it's a very good relationship that we have and one that's very supportive mutually. We're working with them to see how we can perhaps speed up the deployment of our troops and that deployment will be done predominantly by air if not all by air in a combination of contracted airlift, perhaps American airlift, both civilian and military contracted airlift, I should say, as well as our own airlift, using our strategic airbus aircraft or our C-130s and probably a combination of both. Depending on how we -- and how we can flow into Kandahar and that's an important factor here, the rotation of the current American forces that are there at the moment is now being done, is underway and we need to deconflict the movement of our troops into Kandahar with the movement of American troops and so we will try to start deploying as quickly as we possibly can after they've completed their rotation which should be completed over the next two weeks or so. So I think you'll see some movement over the period between now and the end of the month. We would like to have as many of our troops and forces on the ground as possible.
Gen. Ray Henault: Well, I think you'll find that our reconnaissance parties and our advance teams will start to deploy very quickly, within the next week to 10 days, followed again in sequence and in a proper flow, in a very deliberate flow into the region behind our American counterparts.
Moderator: We will take two more questions with follow-ups.
Question: Hélène Buzzetti, Le Devoir. J'aimerais seulement savoir, vous parlez que le contrôle opérationnel sera détenu par les Américains. Quel genre de contrôle est-ce qu'il restera pour les Canadiens, concrètement là?
Gen. Ray Henault: Le contrôle opérationnel est toujours délégué à un commandant sur le terrain, c'est-à-dire le commandant qui a le contrôle des troupes qui font le complément total d'un déploiement. Ça peut être non seulement Canadiens-Américains parce qu'ici c'est seulement les Canadiens avec les Américains mais dans d'autres cas c'est plusieurs nations qui tombent sous un commandant. Alors c'est-à-dire que les tâches journalières, les tâches ponctuelles sont données par le commandant de la coalition, le commandant de la force - dans ce cas ici, commandant de la brigade sur le terrain. Le commandement des forces par contre n'est jamais délégué plus bas que le chef de la Défense alors moi je maintiens toujours le commandement opérationnel sur nos forces. C'est-à-dire que j'ai toujours le dernier mot à dire sur l'emploi de nos forces, la composition de la force, le changement de la tâche ou des missions qui sont allouées aux forces et c'est toujours coordonné avec nous et on fait liaison comme nécessaire avec le gouvernement pour assurer que nous maintenons le contrôle de commandement sur les forces que nous avons déployées. Alors c'est une distinction.
Question: C'est qu'on vous demande de faire quelque chose et vous décidez en bout de ligne si oui ou non ça vous plaît, c'est ça?
Gen. Ray Henault: Disons qu'on fait toujours une analyse des tâches qui nous sont allouées pour être sûr que ça rentre en ligne et en conjonction avec la loi canadienne et avec les désirs et les buts du gouvernement canadien avant d'accéder aux tâches.
Question: Et mon autre question, j'aimerais que vous soyez un petit peu plus précis sur la différence entre cette mission-là et une mission traditionnelle de maintien de la paix. Je ne vois pas très concrètement c'est quoi la différence, donc ce qu'on va faire sur le terrain?
Gen. Ray Henault: Cette mission est une mission qui est faite par rapport à l'article 51 des Nations Unies, c'est-à-dire le droit et la défense collective dans lequel nous sommes déjà impliqués depuis bien longtemps avec les forces qui sont déjà déployées. C'est-à-dire que nous allons en théâtre à Kandahar pour accomplir et entreprendre des tâches de sécurité, stabilité, aussi de combat si nécessaire et en plus comme de raison d'aide humanitaire si nécessaire et si possible. Dans une mission de la paix traditionnelle, nous assistons au maintien de la paix dans une zone particulière ou ponctuelle. C'est une mission totalement différente. On n'est pas là pour faire du peacekeeping traditionnel, on est là pour faire, pour accomplir la sécurité et la stabilité dans la région.
Question: Différent en quoi, c'est ça que je veux savoir. Vous dites que c'est différent ---
Gen. Ray Henault: C'est différent dans le contexte des missions qui nous sont allouées et aussi dans l'équipement que nous amenons avec nous pour les troupes pour bien se défendre qu'accomplir des missions des fois comme j'ai mentionné de combat. Et dans des missions de peacekeeping il n'y a pas de combat nécessairement d'associé avec des missions de peacekeeping.
Moderator: Very last question.
Question: Hugh Windsor, Globe and Mail. Have any members of our joint task force who are now there been involved in direct combat, i.e., fired guns in anger and killed or wounded an enemy? And I'll ask my second question at the same time and that is how will the relationship between the current Joint Task Force and the American special forces, there is that relationship now and how will the relationship between our battle group and the American forces be any different from that?
Gen. Ray Henault: I'll answer the second question first and that is that the command and control relationships for our special operations forces are different from the command and control relationships for coalition activities in the mission that we're about to undertake so they are under separate chains of command and control. One is under a special operations chain. The other one is under a coalition that is Tampa and commander of Sync Cent, General Franks in Tampa. Those will not be crossed over. Those chains will remain distinct and different.
Question: You're not being absolutely clear there. Both -- everything runs out of Tampa. I mean the special forces run out of Tampa. And presumably the other groups that are there also under ---
Gen. Ray Henault: I'm telling you, Hugh, that they're under separate chains of command and control and that's the way they operate and they will remain under those separate and distinct chains of command and control. General Franks has an overall responsibility for operations in the region but there are two distinct chains of command and control for special operations and coalition operations in the region. Now the second question that you have, have our forces been engaged, JTF-2 has been operational for some time now and has been operating in concert, close cooperation with its other special forces counterparts in the region and yes, they have been accomplishing missions. And that's all I can really tell you about that.
Question: But with respect, what I said is not have they been operational but have they been involved in direct combat? Have they fired a gun? Have they hit anybody? And if so have they either killed or wounded?
Gen. Ray Henault: I'm not prepared to discuss any of the operations that they've undertaken so far but they are doing a very credible -- and we're getting very good feedback on the capable -- capabilities that they're representing in the field.
Question: How do we know that?
Hon. Art Eggleton: They are working there, Hugh, with the counterparts from other countries including the United States and particularly there have been notes about the United States Marines and other special operations groups there. They're doing the same thing that they're doing and we'll attempt to provide as much information as we can bearing in mind the security of our personnel and the security of their mission and we keep in very close contact with the United States command in terms of what is being said about their special forces that are operating as the Canadians are. Now there's a lot of speculation but it's important that we, in dealing with responding to these questions, provide information that bears in mind the security, safety and the success of their mission. But they're doing similar things to what their counterparts in other countries are doing.
Question: But with respect, we know that the American special forces are in former positions calling in close air support. We know they are riding horses and carrying guns and firing and have killed people. And you're saying we're doing a great job, we're operational, and yet you're not giving us any details that would reinforce your credibility. All we have is your word for that.
Hon. Art Eggleton: We're not giving any less detail than the United States gives. A lot of the stories that you're talking about there are based on media reports or speculation. We give out the same information as the Pentagon gives out with respect to their particular special operations forces. But I'm telling you that our special operation forces are working with their special operation forces doing much the same thing.
Question: I've asked you a simple question, has any of our people fired a gun?
Question: When did the US make this request, Mr. Eggleton? I'm a little -- because there's a statement that (inaudible). So when did they make this request?
Moderator: This will be the last question.
Hon. Art Eggleton: Well, I first became aware of it just before Christmas. I don't know how -- I'll let General Henault answer in terms of the military discussion.
Gen. Ray Henault: We were in discussions on both of the missions, both the International Security Assistance Force and the coalition mission to Kandahar at about the same time and that was in the period just prior to Christmas. So those have both been underway.
Hon. Art Eggleton: Well, that's the formal request as opposed to the informal discussion and informal request.
Question: Certainly we've been talking to them ever since September the 11th?
Hon. Art Eggleton: Absolutely. All the time. We have Commodore Tifo who's the head of our mission down in Tampa. He's there with over 50 people. We are not only performing a very strong liaison with the Americans but we're also helping them in terms of the operations of central command out of Tampa.
In mid-November, the U.S. asked its coalition partners, including Canada, to provide ground troops for a stabilization force to be deployed in areas captured by the Northern Alliance to ensure that humanitarian relief and supplies can be distributed to the people of Afghanistan.
In accordance with this request, Canada immediately placed 1,000 members of the Immediate Reaction Force (Land) (IRF(L)) on 48 hours notice to deploy. Drawn mostly from the highly trained Edmonton- and Winnipeg-based battalions of Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, the IRF(L) is a light, fully mobile force designed to respond quickly to overseas missions, making it well suited for evolving operations.
As the highly fluid situation in Afghanistan evolved, Canada re-evaluated the movement posture of its troops. The IRF(L) strategic reconnaissance team was placed on 24 hours notice to deploy, the IRF(L) vanguard on 48 hours notice to deploy, and the IRF(L) main body on seven days notice to deploy.
On January 4 the Government of Canada received a request from the United States for Canadian infantry soldiers to deploy to Kandahar as part of the US Army task force founded on the 187th Brigade Combat Team (BCT) from the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), based at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. In response to the U.S. request for assistance, Canada agreed to deploy the 3rd Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry (3 PPCLI) Battle Group, which includes a reconnaissance squadron from Lord Strathcona's Horse (Royal Canadians) and combat service support from 1 Service Battalion. The Lord Strathcona's Horse reconnaissance squadron will be equipped with two troops of Canadian-made Coyote light armoured reconnaissance vehicles, which our U.S. allies specifically requested for this mission.
The Canadian soldiers will be involved in performing a number of tasks, ranging from securing the airfield to allow for the delivery of humanitarian supplies delivery to the Afghan population, to the conduct of combat operations. This signifies an increase in Op APOLLO deployments, and represents another important contribution in direct support of the U.S.'s Operation ENDURING FREEDOM.
This deployment is yet another example of the importance of interoperability in modern military operations. The U.S. request for Canadian assistance is based on the knowledge and confidence of our allies in the ability of the Canadian Forces to make significant contributions to international security.
It is anticipated that this deployment could last up to six months. The members of the 3 PPCLI Battle Group are well trained, well equipped, and fully aware of the significant risks that may lie ahead - they are also eager to represent Canada and to apply their skills in contributing to such an important international effort.
The deployment dates are currently under discussion. However, it is understood that the battle group is expected to be in place in Afghanistan by mid-February. For the time-being, a strategic reconnaissance team and the Vanguard Company, consisting of approximately 150 members, are at 48 hours notice to deploy. The remainder of the 3 PPCLI Battle Group is at seven days notice to deploy.
While operational control of the 3 PPCLI Battle Group will rest with Coalition chain of command, in this case a U.S. brigade, operational command of the 3 PPCLI Battle Group will remain with the Chief of the Defence Staff and, ultimately, the Canadian Government.
The Air Force strategic airlift detachment deployed on November 16 from 8 Wing Trenton with one CC-150 Polaris (Airbus A310) strategic lift aircraft, three flight crews and one air-cargo handling team, about 40 CF members in all. Although the main purpose of the Polaris is long-range transport of personnel and equipment, the Canadian detachment may also be called on for medical evacuation, sustainment and re-supply services, rapid delivery of operationally required items, and movement of personnel into the theatre of operations.
On December 27 the Minister of National Defence announced the deployment of two CP-140 Aurora long-range surveillance and maritime patrol aircraft, crews and support personnel to the Arabian Gulf region. The Long Range Patrol detachment of approximately 200 members from 14 Wing Greenwood, N.S. and 19 Wing Comox, B.C., provides essential air surveillance in the area of operation and supports the coalition with maritime surveillance and intelligence gathering.
The coalition has accepted Canada's offer of a tactical airlift detachment comprising three CC-130 Hercules transport aircraft to be employed primarily in delivery of humanitarian relief and supplies to the people of Afghanistan. This detachment, which may deploy in the near future, may also be called on to provide military support to allied nations.
The U.S.-led coalition naval force currently deployed in southwest Asian waters is the largest concentration of sea power since the Second World War. Canada's Navy has many years of experience in successful operations with allied navies, especially the U.S. Navy. Canadian ships may be called on for duties such as surveillance patrols, maritime interdiction operations and force-protection operations.
COMMAND OF ASSETS
Approximately 50 CF members work at the Canadian National Command Element (NCE) currently located at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida. The NCE is part of the Canadian Joint Task Force South West Asia (JTFSWA) and is commanded by a senior officer at the rank of Commodore. The Commander of the NCE exercises operational command of the various CF components assigned to Operation APOLLO. CF assets always remain under Canadian command, operating under Canadian rules of engagement, and in compliance with Canadian law.
Canada has also deployed a component of our specialist force, Joint Task Force 2, which is contributing to the overall effort towards the elimination of terrorism.