NATO Officials Questioning Canada’s Commitment

Deputy Secretary General of NATO Alexander VershbowCanada’s commitment to NATO is being questioned by the military alliance, says its deputy secretary-general Alexander Vershbow, who suggests Canada is backing away.

During a panel discussion this weekend at the Halifax International Security Forum, Mr. Vershbow said there is “a perception that Canada is de-emphasizing NATO a little bit in its broader security policies.”

Mr. Vershbow, who is visiting federal officials in Ottawa Monday, said in a later interview that he doesn’t want to “sound overly alarmist” with his remarks, but is “reflecting the chatter in the corridors of NATO headquarters.”

Canada, he says, has withdrawn from two key NATO programs – the Airborne Warning and Control System [AWACS] and Alliance Ground Surveillance program [drones].

In addition, there is the issue of Afghanistan post-2014. Canada is to end its military presence there in March.

“We have seen the Canadian decision, at least up until now, not to commit any forces to the post-2014 mission in Afghanistan,” he said. “And while we understand that Canada may have borne more of the burden than other allies in the actual combat phase, it’s raising questions.”

From Chronicle Herald:  [Justice Minister Peter] MacKay affirmed Canada’s commitment to maintaining an international presence, touting the investments in military equipment and humanitarian interventions. “We’re building ships in this city to refurbish and rebuild our navy,” he said. “So we’ve made a decision, as a middle power, that we’re going to continue to contribute mightily to NATO where and strategically when we can.”

Image: Deputy Secretary General of NATO Alexander Vershbow (photo: NATO)