The United States is writing to its allies looking for more military effort against the so-called Islamic State terrorist group, and one of those letters has landed in Ottawa.
A spokesperson for Canada’s defence minister, Harjit Sajjan, confirmed to Maclean’s on Sunday night that Sajjan has received a letter from his U.S. counterpart, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter. News organizations in Australia and Germany reported on the weekend that both countries’ governments had received letters from Carter asking for a reinforced contribution against ISIS. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Germany is already doing enough and won’t contribute more; Australian Defence Minister Marise Payne suggested her response will be similar.
Renée Filiatrault, Sajjan’s communications director, offered no details beyond receipt of a letter from Carter. “That’s all I can confirm,” she said. “Discussions are ongoing within gov’t and with our partners about our contribution.”
Germany is providing six Tornado jets for reconnaissance (but not air strikes), along with a frigate and a refuelling plane. Australia is contributing six fighter jets, a tanker, and an airborne control plane.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberals campaigned on a promise to bring home six Canadian CF-18s that have been participating in bombing runs against ISIS targets in Iraq and Syria. That promise stands, but two months after the October election, the CF-18s are still bombing targets in the region and no date for their return has been set. France and Britain have increased their military activity in the region, and Carter’s letters to U.S. allies are part of an increasing U.S. effort. President Barack Obama will visit the Pentagon on Monday to review strategy against ISIS.