Special forces an ounce of prevention in Mali: expert

Christian Leuprecht at his office at the Royal Military College



OTTAWA - The feds are well advised to use an ounce of prevention to protect Canadian diplomats in Mali with special forces soldiers, says an international security expert.

If special forces are indeed on the ground, Christian Leuprecht says it's at least partly because officials don't want Canada to be caught in an incident like the deadly terror attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya last September.

The Queen's University and Royal Military College professor says the government "wants to be careful and take the right precautions so that we don't become the next victim" of that sort of attack.

Government officials have responded to reports about special forces in Mali by saying "steps have been taken" to protect Canadians interests there, without confirming specifics.

Leuprecht says any special forces group in Mali is probably small.

"If we need to protect Canadian interests or Canadian assets in a very quick fashion and with a small footprint, that's exactly what they're there to do," he said.

Meanwhile, defence officials say the Canadian military has flown at least 12 cargo loads weighing almost 700,000 pounds from France to Mali aboard a C-17 transport plane since mid-January.

Aside from French armoured vehicles, the Canadian jet has carried French soldiers, aircraft parts, and a fuel truck to help France in its efforts to beat back Islamists before they can turn Mali in a terrorist-supporting Sharia state.

Canada has committed to helping carry troops and military equipment to Mali until Feb. 15.

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