Canada relocating Camp Mirage operations to Cyprus
A Canadian soldier is seen on Camp Mirage grounds in Dubai in this undated photo taken from video.
Published Friday, November 5, 2010 1:57PM EDT
STELLARTON, N.S. - Defence Minister Peter MacKay says the Canadian military will use facilities in Cyprus in addition to a base in Germany as a supply route for its mission in Afghanistan after the closing of Camp Mirage.
MacKay said Friday that Cyprus has already been used by the Canadian military.
"We've been currently using Cyprus for what is sometimes described as decompression. That is when soldiers are coming out of theatre, so Cyprus will be another hub as far as transportation in and out of theatre now," he said after an event in Stellarton, N.S.
Operations at Camp Mirage in the United Arab Emirates were officially brought to a close at a ceremony on Wednesday.
Canada was asked to leave the Dubai base last month following a dispute between Ottawa and the U.A.E. over airline landing rights at Canadian airports.
Much of Canada's logistical capacity has been transferred to an American base in Spangdahlem, Germany, which the Canadian military had already been using for its C-17 aircraft.
"Many Canadian air force pilots will remember landing in Spangdahlem when we had larger bases of operation inside Germany," said MacKay.
Military planners were given one month to vacate the base in Dubai, which was not only an operational hub but one they had been counting on for Canada's withdrawal from Afghanistan next year.
There has also been speculation that Canada will continue sending non-sensitive material through the Pakistani port of Karachi as it begins scaling down its mission in July.
Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon has insisted the closure of Camp Mirage had not hurt military operations in Afghanistan.
The existence of the Canadian base in Dubai had long been a guarded secret. Until recently, reporters were forbidden from mentioning its name or location.
It was a way station for soldiers and valuable equipment either coming from or going to Afghanistan. The bodies of fallen soldiers were honoured there as they made their way back to Canadian Forces Base Trenton in Ontario.
According to military figures only now being made public, transit through Camp Mirage increased steadily from 2001 right up to Wednesday. An average of 3.6 million kilograms of cargo were being moved by air each year, and as many as 32,500 Canadian personnel passed through its gates annually.