Friendly-fire reports expose weakness of Kurdish forces doing battle with ISIL

Defence experts say the tragic friendly-fire death of Sgt. Andrew Doiron illustrates the shaky state of Kurdish forces and just how much training help they need.

OTTAWA — Defence experts say the tragic friendly-fire death of Sgt. Andrew Doiron illustrates the shaky state of Kurdish forces and just how much training help they need.

The Canadian military and even Prime Minister Stephen Harper have highlighted the bravery of peshmerga fighters, who last summer halted the advance of militants outside the city of Irbil.

But retired colonel George Petrolekas of the Conference of Defence Associations Institute, says the reports into Doiron’s death show the formation is little more than a popular militia and “not ready for prime time.”

Steve Day, a former special forces commander, says that means there will be no quick or easy end to Canada’s training mission in Iraq — a mission about whose goals and parameters the Harper government has been vague.

On the other hand, the U.S. has not been as reticent about defining expectations in Iraq.

A recent congressional report by the U.S. inspector general for overseas operations says the Pentagon and its coalition partners intend to train 12 brigades in Iraq — nine Iraqi and three Kurdish peshmerga.

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