Defence Department confirms Canadian personnel active in war on Iraq
Thu 27 Mar 2003
Section: National general news
Byline: BY DENNIS BUECKERT
OTTAWA (CP) _ Defence Department officials acknowledged Wednesday that
Canadians are aboard American AWACS radar planes helping in the war on
It's the first time the government has conceded that Canadians on exchange
assignments with the U.S. military are involved in the conflict, and the
revelation prompted calls from the NDP and peace groups to withdraw them.
Prime Minister Jean Chretien declared last week that Canada would not join
the war against Iraq without United Nations backing. The government later
said personnel on exchange programs would not be involved in combat
About 31 Canadians are on exchange assignments with U.S. and British
``Yes indeed, we do have personnel that are performing roles with U.S.
that are involved in the war on Iraq right now,'' Lieut. Hollie Ryan said
Ryan said she could not give details, citing security. Another Defence
official confirmed that the Canadian participation includes AWACS work.
AWACS planes are used for surveillance, command and control in air
The Globe and Mail reported Thursday that six members of the Canadian
forces are on the ground in a logistical or support position for combat
troops involved in heavy fighting.
Chretien confirmed the presence of Canadians on the AWACS on Wednesday,
not that they are involved in the war on Iraq.
``The people who are involved in flying in AWACS planes are covering many
countries in their surveillance not only one country,'' he told the House
``They are doing a job today that they are doing since many, many
NDP Leader Jack Layton said Canada is involved in the war on Iraq despite
claims to the contrary, and called for the Canadians to be withdrawn.
Layton also charged that Canada is supplying information to the U.S. from
Aurora surveillance planes.
``We think there's a very strong likelihood that that information is used
assist in the bombing, that Canadians are complicit as a result, and our
government is complicit.''
Defence Minister John McCallum declined to comment on reports that
are also involved in ground combat in Iraq.
Steven Staples of the Ottawa-based Polaris Institute said there is a
contradiction between Canada's foreign policy and the facts on the ground.
``Today, Canadian ships and aircraft are clearly playing a war role
Canada's policy,'' he told a news conference.
``Our three frigates have been permitted to escort U.S. warships up the
Persian Gulf to Kuwait, our two surveillance planes are relaying
to the U.S. Fifth fleet and a handful of exchange soldiers are serving
the U.S. and U.K. forces.
``Policy incoherence would be an understatement.''
Peace activists called on Chretien to take an active stance against the
``We believe he has a mandate from the Canadian public and a
under international law to make a strong statement condemning the war as
illegal,'' said Vallie Stearns of Committee for Peace in Iraq.
Length: 487 words
The following story ran in the Standard-Freeholder (Cornwall)
NDP says Canadian military involved in Iraq war
CanWest News Service
Wed 26 Mar 2003
Byline: Rick Mofina
Source: CanWest News Service
OTTAWA - The Canadian Armed Forces are involved in the war in Iraq despite
the government's position that Canada would not participate in the
NDP Leader Jack Layton and peace groups charged Wednesday.
"Canada has air personnel apparently directing AWACS operations, resulting
in bombing Iraq," Layton said, adding, "Canadian ships are escorting
warships directly into the war zone."
Layton could not provide proof Canadian military forces were directly
participating in the war, but pointed to a recent report by the Ottawa
The paper said Canada has 31 military personnel assigned to British and
American units involved in the war on Iraq.
At least one of the Canadians is with the British 7th Armored Brigade, a
unit now taking part in heavy fighting near Basra. It is not known if he
in Basra or with British officers in Kuwait or Qatar, the paper reported.
Other Canadians are on board AWACS aircraft, the key command and control
planes used to monitor and direct airplanes in the air war. Some are also
with British and American engineering and logistical units, the Citizen
"We know exactly what units each of our 31 people are in, but we're not
commenting," Defence Minister John McCallum told reporters after
Liberal caucus meeting.
McCallum refused to elaborate, but indicated that the Canadian naval
in the region - three ships with nearly 700 personnel in all - are part of
Operation Apollo, a multinational task force of some 20 vessels patrolling
the Persian Gulf to thwart terrorists.
"It demonstrates our commitment to the war on terrorism," McCallum said.
But having Canadian forces in the region during the war flies in the face
Canada's decision not to support the war, peace groups charged.
"Canadian ships and aircraft in the region are clearly playing a war
said Steven Staples of the Polaris Institute.
"While the government's decision to not join the war is very significant
politically, it makes little difference militarily." Staples said.
The Committee for Peace in Iraq, a coalition of groups behind large
rallies in Canada, urged Prime Minister Jean Chretien to condemn the war
an "illegal act," said Vallie Stearns, a spokesperson for the group.
"This condemnation should be backed by action, including the immediate
recall of Canadian warships and military personnel from the region,"