Canada's military set to increase footprint abroad

4th June 2011, Comments 0 comments

Canada is looking to expand its military reach by setting up staging points in Germany, Jamaica and elsewhere to support humanitarian and combat missions abroad, officials and media said Friday.

Jay Paxton, spokesman for Defense Minister Peter MacKay, told AFP: "Military planners are pursuing logistical agreements to ensure Canada is ready to respond quickly to future humanitarian disasters and international crises."

The warehouses of military equipment and other facilities would support "high-tempo expeditionary operations in places such as Afghanistan, the Middle East, Haiti, Africa and most recently in protecting civilian life in Libya."

However, he added, "this government and the Canadian Forces have no intention of creating permanent large bases in overseas locations."

According to Canadian media, Ottawa has reached agreements to open new bases in Germany and Jamaica, and is negotiating with Kuwait for another in that country.

As well, the Canadian Forces are reportedly eyeing a presence in Senegal, South Korea, Kenya and Singapore.

Canada currently uses several of its allies' bases around the world to support its military deployments, including a US base in Germany and a British base in Cyprus as a place to decompress after serving on the front line in Afghanistan and before returning home.

In October, Canada was forced to close a top-secret military base in Dubai that was part of a key supply route to Afghanistan after refusing to grant the UAE's two national carriers, Emirates Airlines and Etihad Airways, more landing rights.

During the Cold War, Canada also maintained two bases in Germany but closed them in the early 1990s following the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Canada currently has troops supporting UN missions in Haiti, Sierra Leone, Darfur and southern Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Sinai peninsula, Cyprus and Kosovo.

Canadian fighter jets are also taking part in the NATO mission in Libya, and Ottawa plans to send 950 military trainers to Afghanistan to coach Afghans after its 2,800 combat troops withdraw from the war-torn country in July.

© 2011 AFP

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