Voice from the Commonwealth Commentary, World Views and Occasional Rants from a small 'l' libertarian in Massachussetts
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The defence department confirmed yesterday that 25 officers — some currently stationed at U.S. Central Command in Tampa, Fla., and others from Canada — have been redeployed to the American base at As Sayliyah, Qatar, where Gen. Tommy Franks has established command-and-control headquarters for the Iraq war.
"For us, this is just a change of time zone," the source said. The bulk of contingency planning for a war in Iraq had shifted from Tampa to Qatar, so Canada had to move its team to the Middle East forward base if it wanted to continue playing an active role in the planning, he argued.
"We now have sent a military liaison team to Qatar. The team comprises about roughly 25 persons strong and it is drawn from personnel in Canada and from our current national command element at Centcom in Tampa," Saint-Louis said.
Government and military sources say Canada's military is making plans to contribute commandos, naval vessels, aircraft, high-tech Coyote vehicles and possibly ground troops to the U.S.-led campaign.
But sources say Canada is also likely to announce soon that it will send a major contingent back to Afghanistan, to play a role in the international stabilization force based in Kabul. Making a major contribution to maintaining stability in Afghanistan — a key strategic interest of the U.S. — would probably preclude Canada making a major ground troop contribution to an Iraq campaign.
But if Canada joins the war, it is expected to make a significant contribution to the first wave,, with commandos from the Joint Task Force 2 and possibly a small reconnaissance contingent with Coyote vehicles, and by making available the navy and air force military assets Canada already has in the region, with nearly 1,000 personnel.
Two naval frigates, with Sea King helicopters, are part of the interdiction team patrolling water routes to Afghanistan.
A Long-Range Patrol Detachment — two CP-140 Aurora maritime patrol and surveillance aircraft — operates in the Gulf region.
And a Tactical Airlift Detachment, comprising three CC-130 Hercules transport aircraft, employed primarily in the delivery of humanitarian relief and supplies to the people of Afghanistan, is also in the region.
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