Military shrinking footprint in Middle East to free up troops for other missions

OTTAWA — The Canadian Armed Forces is shrinking its footprint in the Middle East to free up troops for missions in Europe and elsewhere.

Vice-Admiral Bob Auchterlonie revealed the plan in an interview with The Canadian Press as the military struggles with both a personnel shortage and growing demands in other parts of the world.

Auchterlonie says Canada will maintain a presence in the Middle East, including with a logistical hub in Kuwait and military training missions in Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq.

But he says the number of personnel deployed to the area, already shrinking steadily since Iraq was liberated from the Daesh militant group in 2017, is poised to decline even further.

Auchterlonie says the reduction is designed to help the military dedicate more troops to Europe, where the Canadian Army is facing a number of new demands due to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Those increased demands abroad as well as at home, where the military is often asked to help with disaster relief, coincide with a personnel shortage commanders have described as a crisis.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2023.

The Canadian Press