The Maple Leaf
Vol. 15, Issue 04
Operation Proteus: Canadian accomplishments in the Middle East
A large group of men in hard hats and vests walk a construction site in the Middle East.
The search for a peaceful solution to the prevailing situation in the Middle East has been a long-term undertaking in which Canada has participated in for nearly 50 years. Our country has been a staunch defender of the Middle East peace process and an active participant in the multilateral process, providing considerable funds to the assistance programs in this region.
The CF supports Canada’s work in the Middle East through Operation PROTEUS, under which 18 Canadian military members have been assigned to the Office of the US Security Coordinator (USSC) in Jerusalem. Its mandate is to take part in the coordination of security between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, which involves developing an increased security capacity in the West Bank.
Op PROTEUS is currently in its 12th rotation, and the Canadian contingent in Jerusalem is under the command of Colonel Jean-François Riffou. His team is a testament to the versatility of the CF through participation in a variety of projects under the USSC, including training, logistics and the creation of computer network projects. Canada has also provided the USSC with a legal officer, who takes part in the reform of the judicial system related to security.
However, the keystone project of Col Riffou’s team remains the building and the getting up and running of the Joint Operations Centres (JOCs), from the headquarters, which local and national leaders supervise, to the command security forces and their operations.
“In addition to establishing JOCs, our team continues to assist Palestinian Security Forces personnel in improving their operational abilities, specifically their marksmanship,” said Col Riffou. “To this end, we are now building a traditional firing range in the West Bank. This is an essential tool for the Palestinian Security Forces to practise weapons handling in an area designed specifically for that purpose, which will give them further confidence in their shooting skills. Previously, recruits had to go to Jordan to improve these key skills, and few could make it every year. Through this project, which is funded by Foreign Affairs and International Trade’s Global Peace and Security Program, we are rectifying the situation.”
From the perspective of Canada’s participation in an international operation of this scale, Col Riffou also points out that this Op PROTEUS rotation will allow for the consolidation and strengthening of existing ties among those taking part in a government-wide effort, such as the one currently underway in the Middle East.
“It is encouraging to see that the relations among the various units of the Canadian government-wide team are increasingly effective. We must work and co-operate with the Canadian Embassy in Tel Aviv, the Canadian government representative in Ramallah, the Foreign Affairs liaison officer in the region and even certain RCMP officers responsible for training Palestinian police officers as part of EUPOL COPPS. It is the co-operation among these key players that allows the Canadian contingent to create an even more accurate picture of the geopolitical situation in the region.”
Op PROTEUS allows the CF to contribute to international peace and security, one of its roles identified in the Canada First Defence Strategy. It also demonstrates the abilities of the CF to overcome difficulties in a complex international geo-political setting, which requires Canadians serving their country to cooperate with partners and allies throughout the world.