10 things we learned from Gen. Vance's ISIS update

Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Jonathan Vance updated senators Monday on Canada’s evolving mission against ISIS in Iraq.

Here are 10 things we learned.

See Full Article

The number of Canadians deployed is increasing:

The government has said its redefined mission against ISIS will involve tripling the size of the military’s “train, advise and assist effort” on the ground, as well as increasing intelligence gathering and medical personnel.

That will require more troops. Vance said the military plans to increase the number of personnel deployed as part of Operation Impact to roughly 830, from approximately 650.

Vance said Canada has helped to ‘categorically stop’ ISIS from advancing:

Vance said the coalition managed to “categorically stop (ISIS)” from advancing on Baghdad and that ISIS has now been “pushed back, losing about 40 per cent of the territory they had taken over.”

“The degradation continues and we have played an active role,” he said.

“Canada’s part in this, I think, was tremendous,” he added. “We responded very quickly with the CF-18s as part of a coalition effort to stop this very rapidly advancing enemy.”

He said Canada contributed other things too, including “intelligence assets” and “a modest train, advise and assist mission with Iraqi Kurds.”

Vance stressed that a military mission alone can’t stop ISIS:

Vance said Canada’s military goal is to help Iraqi forces “degrade and ultimately defeat” ISIS, which will require “putting Iraqi forces back on the offensive” so they can help “re-establish the reach of governance.”

But he also said that a “political solution” is necessary to help deal with the “attractiveness” of ISIS “to the disenfranchised.”

Vance sees the conflict as dating back “millennia”:

“I think it’s well known and well understood that we are in the midst of a wider conflict, a conflict that has been going on for millennia, challenges that have been going on for a long time between the two major sects of the Islam faith, Shia and Sunni, and various proxy efforts that go on as a result,” Vance said.

The general also said he “can’t tell you it’s all clear how we will proceed,” but that the current mission aims “to deal with a clear and present massive destabilization,” and to avoid a “wider and faster destabilization.”

Vance said Canada is not “at war” with ISIS, but it’s complicated:

Asked whether Canada is “at war” with ISIS, Vance said the short answer is “no, Canada is not in a declared state of war.”

He said Canada is technically “a lawful party to an armed conflict against a non-state actor.”

At the same time, he said “it doesn’t necessarily matter” whether the word “war” is used, because it changes little about the mission for his troops.

The Kurdish forces being trained are mostly non-professionals:

“There are some elements of professionalized and partly-professionalized but they are almost exclusively civilians who need training on their small arms,” Vance said of the Kurdish Peshmerga Canada is working with.

“They need to understand how defensive battles are conducted, to protect themselves, and to use from a map and compass, all the way through to how to read your GPS,” he added.

Vance said Kurdish forces tend to show up for rotations, some of them three days long.

Vance was asked about how many Kurdish forces Canada is helping to advise, assist and train and he said he could not give an exact number.

“In the territory that we’re in right now, we’re in the range of 400 to 500,” he said, adding that territory is expected to expand.

“I think we want to improve that,” he added. “We want to make sure there are more and more people available.”

There are plans to give a “battalion size” group extra training:

Vance said a “battalion-sized” group of 300 to 400 could get extra training to turn them into “stronger core of more professional fighters (who) can reinforce the line if necessary or conduct offensive operations, potentially even in time to support the battle of Mosul.”

“We’re not building an army,” he said. “We’re building an effect that will last as long as it needs to last.”

The security forces being trained could help take back the major city of Mosul:

“The ultimate objective in the mid- to long-term will be the Iraqi security forces efforts to free Mosul,” Vance said. “Where we are deploying, we will be providing support for those who are working to contain (ISIS) in Mosul and ultimately lead to their defeat there.”

Vance said it’s “very difficult to put a timeline on it, but in 2016 or 2017, I would suggest to you, the battle for Mosul will start.”

Vance added that Mosul will be the “next significant battle and potentially last significant battle of this campaign.”

Gen. Vance added that the Mosul dam “will be in our vicinity” and there is “a question mark whether or not it will hold.”

Chemical weapons are a concern:

In response to a senator’s specific question, Vance said “reports that (ISIS) is in the possession of rudimentary mustard and chlorine chemicals and, again, rudimentary delivery means (are) accurate.”

He said that “it’s relatively small-scale, but I don’t take any solace in that,” adding that he’s also worried ISIS could get their hands on “nerve agents.”

Vance said the Canadian forces have “the best detection equipment in the world and great protection equipment,” plus intelligence gathering and drills in place that could prevent or mitigate the effects of chemical weapons on troops, although civilians wouldn't have the same protection.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • 'You Can't Spell America Without Me': Baldwin to write book mocking Trump [Video]

    World News Toronto Sun
    Alec Baldwin's mockery of Donald Trump is turning to the printed page. The actor, who has impersonated the U.S. president on NBC's "Saturday Night Live" since last fall, is teaming up with author Kurt Andersen on the satirical book “You Can't Spell America Without Me: The Really Tremendous Inside Story of My Fantastic First Year as President Donald J. Source
  • Ensuring newcomers know Canadian values up to Canadians

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    OTTAWA — Newcomers to Canada need to know about this country’s shared values, and it’s up to Canadians to teach them, participants in government-run focus groups on immigration told researchers last summer. The report into the results of five focus groups held across the country found that many participants were thoughtful about Canada’s capacity to support and educate newcomers on “our laws, values and general way of doing things” to allow them to fit in. Source
  • Majority of Quebecers oppose more immigration

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    A majority of Quebecers oppose the idea of welcoming more immigrants to Canada, a new survey suggests. A poll conducted by SOM for Cogeco Nouvelles and published Wednesday suggests that 55 per of respondents think Canada shouldn’t accept more immigrants in the wake of anti-immigration measures announced by U.S. Source
  • Obamas sign book deals to write about time in White House

    World News Toronto Sun
    Penguin Random House has netted separate, lucrative book deals with former president Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama, who plan to write about their time in the White House, the publisher announced Tuesday. "With their words and their leadership, they changed the world, and every day, with the books we publish at Penguin Random House, we strive to do the same," Penguin Random House CEO Markus Dohle said in a statement reported by the Associated Press. Source
  • Trudeau and Ambrose in Calgary as byelection race heats up

    Canada News CBC News
    The Prime minister and the leader of the federal Conservatives will both be in Calgary on Wednesday, rallying their respective troops for two upcoming byelections. Watch live here as Rona Ambrose addresses the media in Calgary at 1:15 p.m. Source
  • Accused toe-sucker: 'I'm actually a good person'

    World News Toronto Sun
    TOLEDO, Ohio — Despite a possible foot fetish, an Ohio-man told a court he's actually a good person. A man charged with taking off a woman’s shoe and sucking her toes without permission at a mall has been accused of massaging the feet of other women without their consent. Source
  • Top doc says Canada's opioid addiction treatment is dangerous, Suboxone should be used in place of methadone

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    Canada's use of methadone in treating fentanyl and other opioid abuse is dangerous and outdated, says a substance abuse expert gathered with others in Banff mapping out addiction strategies. Other countries, including the U.S., have moved toward using another drug, buprenorphine/naloxone in managing opioid addiction and Canada should probably move in a similar direction, said Dr. Source
  • Garneau calls for tough national standard for distracted drivers using cellphones

    Canada News CTV News
    MONTREAL -- Transport Minister Marc Garneau is proposing the creation of a tough national standard to penalize distracted drivers using their cellphones on the road. Garneau said Wednesday that having consistent national rules with stiffer fines and demerit points could address the growing number of incidents. Source
  • Saskatchewan champion powwow dancer known for humour and kindness dies

    Canada News CBC News
    A Saskatchewan First Nations activist and champion traditional powwow dancer who once performed for the Queen has died. Frank Asapace was 56. The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations said in a release that Asapace, who grew up on the Kawacatoose First Nation north of Regina, died Monday. Source
  • Here's why you should brace for one last winter blast

    Canada News CTV News
    Dave Phillips has one message that may dampen Canadians’ spirits amid record-breaking warm temperatures: “Don’t put away the snow shovel quite yet.” Environment Canada’s senior climatologist says, while March may have entered like a lamb, it doesn’t preclude it from leaving like a lion. Source