French forces sent a clear message with the strong presence of troops in Mali. For its part, Canada has refused to get involved militarily in the conflict, but plans to train forces in neighboring Niger.
I must say it is likely that the soldiers of Niger are faced with Islamist rebels who took control of the north of Mali. The country is indeed an important contributor to the reaction force of the Economic Community of African States (ECOWAS).
Maj. Doug MacNair, spokesman Command Special Operations Forces of Canada stated that 45eNord.ca to Canada's involvement in Niger would be part of an annual exercise: EX Flintlock. Less than two dozen members of the special forces are involved.
"The planning is over and we are currently implementing this plan," said the spokesperson in an email.
45eNord.ca: Can you explain the exact nature of the mission? Can you confirm which aircraft was involved in the transportation of personnel CANSOFCOM in the region?
Ministry of National Defence: The purpose of this visit is to conduct preliminary training and the preparation of the multinational exercise Flintlock 13, sponsored by the U.S. Africa Command, which will take place in Mauritania in February and March 2013.
Participation [Canada] Flintlock exercise is not new; CANSOFCOM participated in Exercise Flintlock 11 and was involved in Flintlock 12 until it was canceled last year. Taking place each time in a different country of West Africa, CANSOFCOM is in partnership with Niger for Flintlock 13. It is not intended to train Malian forces.
The aircraft, a CC-177 Globemaster delivered CANSOFCOM personnel of Special Operations Regiment of Canada (CCN), based in Petawawa, Ontario, Niger.
The aircraft is now in Senegal for maintenance.
45eNord.ca: How does this training consist of capacity building?
DND staff CANSOFCOM provides training in reconnaissance, land navigation, marksmanship and other basic military skills for the Nigerian armed forces.
45eNord.ca: Where Will the training take place?
DND: According to previous reinforcement of capacity building, training takes place in the host country, in this case the Niger. Near the beginning of the exercise Flintlock 2013, CSOR and training partners Nigerians will move the location of the exercise in Mauritania. Canada participated in this exercise for years.
The CF is committed to the safety and security of staff CANSOFCOM on the ground.
45eNord.ca: Is this training is linked to the current situation Mali?
DND: EX Flintlock involves capacity building in several countries of the Sahel region that contributes to regional security. However, Mali is not involved in Flintock 13, and Canada does not have a plan to train Malian forces.