Prime Minister Harper announced on Monday that Canada would assign one RCAF C-17 transport aircraft to provide logistical support to the French military intervention in Mali for a period of one week (Steven Chase, “Ottawa offers use of military plane to beleaguered Mali,” Globe and Mail, 14 January 2013):
The Canadian government is offering logistical aid to beleaguered Mali as it struggles to beat back advances by Islamist rebels.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper said for now the assistance will consist of one week’s use of a Royal Canadian Air Force C-17 heavy lift transport plane.
This comes as the conflict in Mali escalates. Alarmed by the rapidly growing power of Islamist extremist fighters, France has sent combat forces into the African country to reinforce the crumbling military resistance to the rebel advance.
“The Government of Canada is deeply concerned by recent events in Mali. The establishment of a terrorist region in the middle of Africa is of grave concern to the broader international community, including Canada and our close allies,” the prime minister said.
Mr. Harper said Canada on Monday received a special request for assistance from the French government for a heavy-lift aircraft to transport equipment to Mali’s capital, Bamako.
“The Government of Canada will support our allies in this request and will be providing one RCAF C-17 transport aircraft in a non-combat role to support operations for a period of one week. The RCAF aircraft will not operate in any combat zone,” Mr. Harper said.
“At no time will Canadian Armed Forces members be participating in direct action against insurgent forces in Mali.”
The United States and Britain are also providing logistical and other support to the operation, but for the time being the French military and a planned West African force are the only international forces committed to a direct role in the fighting.
The prime minister’s statement reiterated that “the Government of Canada is not, and will not be, considering a direct Canadian military mission in Mali” (“Statement by Prime Minister Stephen Harper on providing logistical support to Mali,” 14 January 2013). He did not, however, rule out additional contributions of logistical or other support for the fighting. Canada is already providing training to soldiers in Niger, one of the countries expected to contribute to the West African intervention force.
Photo credit: U.S. Air Force