Putting combat boots on the grounds to fight the Islamic State isn’t an immediate option for Canada, a military expert says.
Bombing is necessary, however, said Thomas Juneau of the University of Ottawa in an interview on Friday.
“If you don’t bomb, then they will expand,” said Juneau, a professor in the university’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, specializing in Canadian foreign and defence policy.
It’s also necessary to help locals to strengthen their military and improving the political process to combat Sunni alienation.
“It will not be easy,” Juneau said. “It will not be short term.”
The Islamic State has no air force and limited weaponry, but are still a highly dangerous force that threatens to grow unless checked, Juneau says.
The CIA estimated last month that there are 20,000 to 30,000 members, and that amount threatens to grow, Juneau says.
“Success breeds success,” Juneau said. “These are very, very brutal and skilled individuals,”
Juneau said that he believes U.S. President Barack Obama wants to avoid infantry soldiers, since that didn’t work in Afghanistan and Iraq.
“As long as the U.S. doesn’t send combats boots on the ground, Canada won’t,” Juneau said.
“It’s local forces, local militia ... they will have to do the fighting on the ground,” Juneau said.
Juneau said it makes sense to send in six CF-18 bombers, two air-to-air refuelling stations and a maritime patrol surveillance aircraft as a package.
It also makes sense to renew the current 30-day mission of up to 60 military advisers, Juneau said.
“It’d be completely absurd to withdraw them after only 30 days,” Juneau said.
He added that it makes humanitarian and political sense to significantly increase Canada’s humanitarian contribution.
“There are humungous humanitarian needs on the ground and they will only get worse,” Juneau said, adding that this would also help defuse criticism that the government is only focusing on air power.