Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Special Forces Operating on 'Borrowed Time', Need More Troops: General

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Special Forces Operating on 'Borrowed Time', Need More Troops: General

Article excerpt

Special forces operating on 'borrowed time'


OTTAWA - Canada's elite special forces soldiers risk being run ragged after spending three years deployed in Iraq, as well as in several other lesser-known places around the globe, their deputy commander warns.

That's why Brig.-Gen. Peter Dawe says the federal government's plan to add 600 more troops to the ranks of the special forces is not only welcome, it's necessary, considering the threats Canada faces now -- and can expect to face in the future.

"The reality is that we deliver the effects that the government deems appropriate, that they direct us to deliver," Dawe said in an interview with The Canadian Press.

"And we've been doing it for a while, frankly, on borrowed time. We've been working our folks very hard. A brutal operational tempo."

The plan to grow Canada's special forces is one of the many measures included in the Liberal government's new defence policy, which promised more than $62 billion in new military spending over the next 20 years.

The expected growth is nothing to sneeze at, given the military currently has only about 2,000 special forces personnel, most of which are divided between four different units.

Those include Joint Task Force 2, the Canadian Special Operations Regiment, a special helicopter detachment and a unit that specializes in responding to biological, chemical and nuclear incidents.

Most of the attention since August 2014 has been on their mission in Iraq, where members have been helping Kurdish forces and, more recently, the Iraqi army in their fight against the Islamic State group.

That includes one JTF2 sniper who recently shot and killed an ISIL fighter from more than 3.5 kilometres away, shattering the previous record for longest kill shot.

Dawe said many of his soldiers have done multiple tours in Iraq -- a number that is likely to increase after the government announced last week that the military will stay in the country another two years. …

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