Peace Time: June 5, 2003


Despite the Canadian governments opposition to the Iraq war, there were Canadian soldiers and sailors involved. Because of normal officer exchange programs, there were 31 Canadian officers with American and British units sent to Iraq. The Canadian government could have ordered these officers to leave the British and American units they were serving with, and return to Canada, but this did not happen. There are also three Canadian warships in the Persian Gulf, supporting the UN embargo against Iraq. They remained in the area, and potentially in harms way, for the duration of the Iraq fighting. The military exchange program began early in NATOs history, as a way to familiarize officers from the different member countries about how each others forces operated. Officers (and now, senior NCOs as well) serve a year or so with a foreign army, navy or air force. They do the same job, but have to learn all the different ways things are done. That, of course, is the whole point. In wartime, these exchange officers provide valuable links between allied armed forces, both on staffs and as liaison officers. The Iraq war also showed how the exchange program also gives officers involved a chance to actually go to war, even if their own country is at peace. 


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