By Barry Ellsworth
TRENTON, Canada (AA) - Canada will take command of a new training mission in Iraq designed to counter the threat of a Daesh re-emergence, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Wednesday at the NATO Summit in Brussels.
Canada will send up to 250 personnel and four Griffin helicopters and make up the bulk of the force for the NATO Western military alliance, beginning this fall.
The main job of the Canadians will be to provide protection for hundreds of other personnel from NATO countries who will train local forces in counter-terrorism tactics.
Now that Daesh has been defeated in Iraq, Trudeau said the task is to keep the terrorists from regaining a foothold and to rebuild democracy in Iraq and “strengthen it.”
“Since NATO’s creation in 1949, Canada has played a strong and active role in missions to advance people and security for our citizens and people around the world,” Trudeau said in a statement. “We are proud to take a leadership role in Iraq and work with our Allies and the Government of Iraq to help this region in the Middle East transition to long-lasting peace and stability.”
But the Canadian initiative may also be a move to stifle U.S. President Donald Trump’s assertion that his country is carrying too much of the load of NATO and he wants the other 28 members to contribute more.
When asked if Trump would give Canada credit for heading the Iraq mission, Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland ducked the question.
“Our first – and really our only consideration – was what served the Canadian national interest, what served Canadians, what was appropriate to do for Canada given our role in the world and the very great interest we, as Canadians, have in a functioning, rules-based international order,” Freeland said.