A member of Canadian Special Operations Forces Command coaches members of the Niger Armed Forces on marksmanship during Flintlock 2017 in Diffa, Niger, March. 2, 2017. Flintlock is a special operations forces exercise designed to hone the capabilities of U.S. and partner nation military units in Trans-Saharan Africa. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Kulani Lakanaria)

A member of Canadian Special Operations Forces Command coaches members of the Niger Armed Forces on marksmanship during Flintlock 2017 in Diffa, Niger, March. 2, 2017. Flintlock is a special operations forces exercise designed to hone the capabilities of U.S. and partner nation military units in Trans-Saharan Africa.
Photo Credit: (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Kulani Lakanaria)

Ammunition procurement tender sheds light on secretive Canadian operation in Africa

A federal government public tender to purchase ammunition for the Canadian military is shedding more light on one Canada’s most secretive counter-terrorism international assistance programs.

The tender notice posted on the government’s Byandsell.gc.ca website is for 1.2 million cartridges for “AK-47 type weapons.”

The AK-47, which stands for Avtomat Kalashnikova model 1947 in Russian, is one of the world’s most mass-produced and iconic assault rifles.

Extremely rugged and simple to use, the AK-47 and its more modernized variants are used by dozens of militaries, militias, guerilla groups, narcotrafficers  and terrorists around the world.

But it’s not part of the day-to-day arsenal of Canadian Armed Forces.

So why would the Canadian military need 1.2 million rounds, enough to start a small war?

Operation Naberius

The ammunition is for a little-known training and capacity building program run by the Canadian military in the West African nation of Niger under the codename Operation Naberius, said Capt. Vincent Bouchard, a spokesman for Canadian Joint Operations Command Headquarters.

A member of Canadian Special Operations Forces Command coaches a member of the Niger Armed Forces during marksmanship training as part of Exercise Flintlock 2017 in Diffa, Niger, Feb. 28, 2017. Flintlock is a special operations forces exercise designed to hone the capabilities of U.S. and partner nation military units in Trans-Saharan Africa. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Klutts)
A member of Canadian Special Operations Forces Command coaches a member of the Niger Armed Forces during marksmanship training as part of Exercise Flintlock 2017 in Diffa, Niger, Feb. 28, 2017. Flintlock is a special operations forces exercise designed to hone the capabilities of U.S. and partner nation military units in Trans-Saharan Africa. © (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Klutts)

A handful of Canadian soldiers have since 2013 helped train the Niger Armed Forces in marksmanship, reconnaissance and other basic military skills under the auspices of Operation Naberius, the CBC News reported earlier this year.

The little-advertised operation is part of Canada’s Counter-Terrorism Capacity Building (CTCB) assistance program that “provides training, funding, equipment, technical and legal assistance to other states to enable them to prevent and respond to terrorist activity,” according to Global Affairs Canada.

As part of that training and material assistance, Canadian military trainers supply the ammunition used in the marksmanship course, Bouchard said.

“We’re bringing a little part of it (ammunition) each time we’re going,” Bouchard said. “And this purchase is meant to be for the next few years, providing training to our international partners.”

The last training course was conducted in the spring of this year and ended in June, said Bouchard.

‘Getting ready for the next editions’
A member of Canadian Special Operations Forces Command observes members of the Niger Armed Forces during marksmanship training as part of Flintlock 2017, in Diffa, Niger, March 1, 2017. Flintlock is a special operations forces exercise designed to hone the capabilities of U.S. and partner nation military units in Trans-Saharan Africa. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Zayid Ballesteros)
A member of Canadian Special Operations Forces Command observes members of the Niger Armed Forces during marksmanship training as part of Flintlock 2017, in Diffa, Niger, March 1, 2017. Flintlock is a special operations forces exercise designed to hone the capabilities of U.S. and partner nation military units in Trans-Saharan Africa. © (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Zayid Ballesteros)

The training happens twice a year but its details are kept under wraps for operational security reasons, Bouchard said.

“But we’re getting ready for the next editions in the next few years,” he said. “And that’s why this procurement was required.”

Most of the ammunition will be used in Niger but part of it will be used in Canada to train the Canadian trainers, since most Canadian soldiers do not usually operate AK-47 type weapons, Bouchard said.

Retired Lt.-Col. Steve Day, former commander of Canada’s elite anti-terrorism unit Joint Task Force 2 (JTF2) and president of Reticle Ventures, a security consultancy and training company, said there is nothing unusual about Canadian soldiers bringing their ammunition when training the militaries in less developed countries.

Depending on the level and the intensity of training the Canadian soldiers provide in Niger, 1.2 million rounds can last anywhere from a couple of weeks to a couple years, Day said.

It takes about 1,000 rounds to train a soldier to a decent level of marksmanship, Day said.

On the higher end of the spectrum, it’s not uncommon for special forces troops to go through 50,000 to 70,000 rounds of ammunition a year, Day said.

Royal 22nd Regiment takes over from special forces
A Canadian Special Operations Forces Command medic provides instruction to a member of the Niger Armed Forces during medical training as part of Flintlock 2017 in Diffa, Niger, February 25, 2017. Niger is one of seven African nations to host Flintlock 2017. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Zayid Ballesteros)
A Canadian Special Operations Forces Command medic provides instruction to a member of the Niger Armed Forces during medical training as part of Flintlock 2017 in Diffa, Niger, February 25, 2017. Niger is one of seven African nations to host Flintlock 2017. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Zayid Ballesteros)

Operation Naberius training used to be conducted by Canadian Special Forces but a year ago the responsibility for training was transferred to the Canadian Army. About two dozen soldiers from the French-speaking 1st Battalion, Royal 22nd Regiment, based in Valcartier, Quebec, took part in training this year.

Citing operational security concerns, the Canadian military has refused to disclose the exact location of the training but media reports and a photo gallery of an international anti-terrorism training exercise published by the U.S. Army in February suggest that Canadian soldiers are deployed in one of the most dangerous parts of Niger, near the town of Diffa, in the southeast of the country.

Heavy fighting between government troops and Boko Haram militants in 2015 forced Canadian trainers to briefly pull out of Diffa, which sits on the border with Nigeria and the heartland of the Boko Haram insurgency.

The operation flew almost entirely under the radar since it was first ordered by the former Conservative government.

There is no mention of it anywhere on the DND website, which lists all current Canadian operations abroad, including the well-known Operation Impact in the Middle East and Operation Reassurance in Eastern Europe.

Training Sahel forces
A Canadian Special Operations Forces Command medic provides instruction to members of the Niger Armed Forces during medical training as part of Flintlock 2017 in Diffa, Niger, February 25, 2017. Niger is one of seven African nations to host Flintlock 2017. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Zayid Ballesteros)
A Canadian Special Operations Forces Command medic provides instruction to members of the Niger Armed Forces during medical training as part of Flintlock 2017 in Diffa, Niger, February 25, 2017. Niger is one of seven African nations to host Flintlock 2017. © (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Zayid Ballesteros)

However, Operation Naberius, named either after a powerful three-headed demon and marquis of hell or an equally nefarious character in the World of Warcraft online role-playing game, is not the only Canadian undertaking in the region.

The Canadian Special Operations Forces Command (CANSOFCOM) has for years also participated in the U.S.-led training plan known as Exercise Flintlock to assist in training Western African countries in anti-terrorism operations. 

The exercise brings together North American, European and African military members from 24 countries to train together in seven host nations across North and West Africa during the three week event, said Maj. Alexandre Cadieux, CANSOFCOM spokesman. 

“Exercise Flintlock is designed to foster regional cooperation to enable our African partners to stabilize regions of North and West Africa, while reducing sanctuary and support for violent extremist organizations,” said a statement from the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM). “FL17 provides increased interoperability, counterterrorism, and combat skills training while creating a venue for regional engagement among partner nations.”

Along with Canada and the U.S. other countries that participated in the program include Algeria, Burkina Faso, Chad, France, Germany, Italy, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Spain,  South Africa, The Netherlands, Tunisia and United Kingdom, according to AFRICOM.

Tagged with: , , , ,
Posted in International, Military

Do you want to report an error or a typo? Click here!

@*@ Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 characters available

Note: By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that Radio Canada International has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Radio Canada International does not endorse any of the views posted. Your comments will be pre-moderated and published if they meet netiquette guidelines.

Netiquette »

When you express your personal opinion in an online forum, you must be as courteous as if you were speaking with someone face-to-face. Insults and personal attacks will not be tolerated. To disagree with an opinion, an idea or an event is one thing, but to show disrespect for other people is quite another. Great minds don’t always think alike—and that’s precisely what makes online dialogue so interesting and valuable.

Netiquette is the set of rules of conduct governing how you should behave when communicating via the Internet. Before you post a message to a blog or forum, it’s important to read and understand these rules. Otherwise, you may be banned from posting.

  1. RCInet.ca’s online forums are not anonymous. Users must register, and give their full name and place of residence, which are displayed alongside each of their comments. RCInet.ca reserves the right not to publish comments if there is any doubt as to the identity of their author.
  2. Assuming the identity of another person with intent to mislead or cause harm is a serious infraction that may result in the offender being banned.
  3. RCInet.ca’s online forums are open to everyone, without regard to age, ethnic origin, religion, gender or sexual orientation.
  4. Comments that are defamatory, hateful, racist, xenophobic, sexist, or that disparage an ethnic origin, religious affiliation or age group will not be published.
  5. In online speak, writing in ALL CAPS is considered yelling, and may be interpreted as aggressive behaviour, which is unpleasant for the people reading. Any message containing one or more words in all caps (except for initialisms and acronyms) will be rejected, as will any message containing one or more words in bold, italic or underlined characters.
  6. Use of vulgar, obscene or objectionable language is prohibited. Forums are public places and your comments could offend some users. People who use inappropriate language will be banned.
  7. Mutual respect is essential among users. Insulting, threatening or harassing another user is prohibited. You can express your disagreement with an idea without attacking anyone.
  8. Exchanging arguments and opposing views is a key component of healthy debate, but it should not turn into a dialogue or private discussion between two users who address each other without regard for the other participants. Messages of this type will not be posted.
  9. Radio Canada International publishes contents in five languages. The language used in the forums has to be the same as the contents we publish. The usage of other languages, with the exception of some words, is forbidden. Messages that are off-topic will not be published.
  10. Making repetitive posts disrupts the flow of discussions and will not be tolerated.
  11. Adding images or any other type of file to comments is forbidden. Including hyperlinks to other websites is allowed, as long as they comply with netiquette. Radio Canada International  is in no way responsible for the content of such sites, however.
  12. Copying and pasting text written by someone else, even if you credit the author, is unacceptable if that text makes up the majority of your comment.
  13. Posting any type of advertising or call to action, in any form, to Radio Canada International  forums is prohibited.
  14. All comments and other types of content are moderated before publication. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to refuse any comment for publication.
  15. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to close a forum at any time, without notice.
  16. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to amend this code of conduct (netiquette) at any time, without notice.
  17. By participating in its online forums, you allow Radio Canada International to publish your comments on the web for an indefinite time. This also implies that these messages will be indexed by Internet search engines.
  18. Radio Canada International has no obligation to remove your messages from the web if one day you request it. We invite you to carefully consider your comments and the consequences of their posting.

*

2 comments on “Ammunition procurement tender sheds light on secretive Canadian operation in Africa
  1. Nora Peach says:

    Will sending 1.2 million AK-47 type cartridges to Africa create more peace in our world? We are doubtful it will. This isn’t the type of action we hope Canada will take in the coming years. We used to be peacekeepers…

    • Dan Adams says:

      The peacekeeper world doesn’t exist anymore. Peacekeepers were useful when separating 2 conventional armies, but doesn’t work when you’re dealing with terrorists, criminal organizations and religious fanatics.

      1.2 million rounds of ammo will help to train our soldiers on those weapons systems, in order to have our soldiers be able to train the Nigerian military on how to deal with terrorists and religious fundamentalists.

      They are bringing peace – but peace isn’t brought through hugs and rainbows. Peace sometimes involves protecting civilians and killing terrorists, or training others how.