WHERE THEY'RE STILL ON GUARD

Luke Fisher June 25 2001

WHERE THEY'RE STILL ON GUARD

Luke Fisher June 25 2001

WHERE THEY'RE STILL ON GUARD

Duty still calls for soldiers, sailors and aircrews. But nearly a decade of budget cuts and scandals have left the capabilities of the Canadian Forces at serious odds with Ottawa’s eagerness to maintain Canada’s image as a full participant in the world community. At the peak in 1993,4,641 military personnel were deployed on international peacekeeping duties. By the end of July, only 1,921 will be on such missions -the fewest since the Second World War.

Over the next three weeks, the remaining 298 troops working alongside a Dutch battalion on the

Ethiopia-Eritrea border will return home, most to the Gagetown, N.B.-based Royal Canadian Regiment. Another group soon to see family are the 476 sailors on board the frigates HMCS Charlottetown, based in Halifax, and HMCS Winnipeg, from Esquimalt, B.C. They had been enforcing the United Nations' economic sanctions against Iraq in the Persian Gulf and Arabian Sea.

Canada’s only major operation still under way is a force of 1,641 troops in Bosnia-Herzogovinaand it toils not for the United Nations, but as part of the heavily armed NATO Stabilization Force.

There since 1996, it is an open-ended mission the Chrétien government says it is committed to until a “self-sustaining peace" comes to the region.

The remaining 280 soldiers actually wearing the United Nation’s blue berets are on 13 missions scattered across Africa, the Middle East and Europe. Apart from the Golan Heights, where 190 Canadians patrol the border between Syria and Israel, the missions are small and unambitious. In Sierra Leone, for instance, 15 soldiers are providing training for the local army, while there is a lone Canadian posted as an observer in Croatia.

Luke Fisher