OTTAWA — A former overseas commander says if Justin Trudeau’s beefed-up training mission in Iraq is to succeed in a timely manner he’ll have to consider allowing Canadian troops to accompany local forces on operations in limited circumstances.
Retired lieutenant-general Stuart Beare says advising and assisting local forces — essentially classroom training — is valuable, but the ability to able to follow those students to the field is important to ensure lessons have been learned.
Prime Minister Trudeau says the country’s CF-18 warplanes will be withdrawn from combat before March and replaced by a more-robust training mission, although many of the details are still being worked out.
Beare, who is now a fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute, but also served as the deputy commander of NATO’s Afghan police training mission, says he’s convinced the U.S-led coalition as a whole will have to “evolve” towards allowing western troops to accompany Iraqi and Kurdish forces if it wants to dislodge the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant in a reasonable time frame.
He says whether Canada would allow that is a policy discussion that will have to happen.
The Harper government allowed special forces trainers to accompany Kurdish fighters to the front and direct air strikes against Islamic State positions — something the Liberals opposed.