child soldiers isis

Dallaire: How Canada can defuse ISIL’s child soldiers

Original Article Link Here: bit.ly/1oGRtD3

By: LGen Roméo Dallaire and Dr. Shelly Whitman

In our fight against the Islamic State (ISIL), it is not only guns and bombs that we face, but children used as weapons of war. This is a profound aspect of the conflict and one that we cannot, and must not, wait to address on the battlefield.

These children are used to move deftly between the ranks providing adult fighters with ammunition or supplies. They are strapped with bombs and detonated in public areas, to devastating effect. They are used in propaganda and to recruit other children. They are even used to provide blood from their own bodies to treat wounded fighters.

It can be hard to distinguish child soldiers from adult soldiers on the battlefield. However, there are multiple ways to prevent and interact with children beyond the battlefield that can reduce the fighting force capability. These options are completely impossible from the cockpit of a plane at 10,000 ft.

This is a conflict that requires boots on the ground. But it is high time we become more intelligent about the roles the boots on the ground can effectively undertake, with new tools and preparation.

The recruitment and use of child soldiers in the fight with ISIL represents a complex reality that requires a multifaceted approach. Canada’s decision to remove our CF-18s from airstrikes and increase our training presence recognizes a tacit understanding that this conflict cannot be fought through only one dimension. It recognizes that ISIL is focused on preparing a new generation to sustain the fight, and regional forces must be prepared to face this long into the future. It also recognizes that the recruitment and use of children is predicated on a narrative that is not solved by airstrikes, but is instead amplified.

ISIL’s efforts to enlist and use the “cubs of caliphate” provides a glimpse of the lengths that it is prepared to go to, along with its long-term strategy for this conflict. Its use of children as weapons of war represents a specific tactical and strategic response to reach its ultimate goals. At the same time, we should recognize that ISIL is not the only armed group using child soldiers in Iraq and Syria.

Training of local forces is a key gap that has yet to be addressed  to interrupt this use of child soldiers and remove the strategic advantage that ISIL and others currently possess in using children. When equipped with the tools to address how children are used as instruments of war, our troops and partners on the ground can intervene in a prevention-oriented manner to ultimately protect children as well as themselves.

Over the past year, my organization, the Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative, has begun critical conversations with the Canadian Forces to begin the process of introducing new doctrine and training to address the threat of child soldiers. This unique approach to the security dimension of preventing child soldiers could put Canada ahead of the Brits, the French, even the Americans. It is an approach that is vital to support the troops in the Syria/Iraq conflict.

Earlier this month, my organization partnered with Wounded Warriors Canada, launching a new program that will leverage the skills and experience of Canadian veterans to enhance training. The Dallaire Initiative’s Veteran Trainers to Eradicate the Use of Child Soldiers (VTECS) program will equip a substantial cadre of Canadian veterans to become trainers on our unique approach and enable new approaches to end the use and recruitment of child soldiers.

Innovative programs such as VTECS are required to ensure that those who continue to serve on the battlefield have the skills necessary to be effective in facing the realities of modern conflict. Secondly, the VTECS program provides tangible skills transition for our Canadian Forces veterans to apply their hard-earned experience on the battlefield to a new mission.

Removing the tactical advantages of using children as weapons of war requires preparation and training of professional forces. We can then greatly diminish the fighting capacity of groups such as ISIL, and interrupt the recruitment of other children. Through our training efforts in the region, we can effectively build this capacity with local forces. This approach can go a long way to prevent conflict and mitigate the impact of conflict overall.

Roméo Dallaire is a retired lieutenant general, retired Canadian senator and founder of the Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative; Dr. Shelly Whitman is the executive director of the Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative.

Press Release: Veteran Trainers to Eradicate the Use of Child Soldiers

For Immediate Release

February 10th, 2016

Canadian Veterans Join the Fight Against Child Soldiers

The Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative and Wounded Warriors Canada launches the inaugural Veteran Trainers to Eradicate the Use of Child Soldiers (VTECS) program.

Toronto, ON—The Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative (Dallaire Initiative), is enlisting Canadian veterans in its global fight against child soldiers with the launch of the Veteran Trainers to Eradicate the Use of Child Soldiers (VTECS) program. Delivered with the support of Wounded Warriors Canada this program will build on the valuable knowledge, experience and insight Canadian veterans possess to deliver specialized training to prevent the use of child soldiers.

“They may have left the battlefield but Canadian veterans are a needed and valuable partner in addressing a critical security issue of our time, the use and recruitment of children as weapons of war. Through the VTECS program, we hope to build on their experience and expertise and encourage veterans to join me in my organization’s fight to end the recruitment and use of child soldiers” states LGen Roméo Dallaire, founder of the Dallaire Initiative.

Based out of the Dallaire Initiative’s institutional home at Dalhousie University, the VTECS program will equip Canadian veterans with specialized skills and knowledge to help deliver the Dallaire Initiative’s ground breaking work to prevent the use of child soldiers. Graduates of the VTECS program will help prepare their security sector peers for encounters with child soldiers and strengthen their ability to recognize and interrupt recruitment.

The VTECS program is made possible through a $175 000 investment by Wounded Warriors Canada towards its pilot year in 2016. Successful applicants will receive scholarships that cover cost of tuition, travel, along with room and board associated with the program.

Scott Maxwell, Executive Director of Wounded Warriors Canada, commented, “Through our national programming at Wounded Warriors Canada we continue to work with veterans who are struggling to transition their specialized skills to the civilian workspace. We believe the VTECS program will be a force multiplier – leveraging the skill set of our highly trained veterans while also providing skills transition training; access to an academic environment; credits/accreditation possibilities and potential employment opportunities.”

The inaugural call for applications will be open between February 10th and March 29th. Canadian veterans can submit an application or learn more about the program by visiting www.childsoldiers.org/vtecs.

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Media contacts:

The Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative

Josh Boyter

[email protected]

1 902 494 2392 (office)

1 902 489. 6767 (cell)

Wounded Warriors Canada

Scott Maxwell

[email protected]

289-388-6181

About the organizations

The Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative

The Dallaire Initiative, based at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, is recognized as the only organization in the world that is taking a prevention-oriented, security sector focused approach to the crime against humanity that is child soldiery. Founded by retired lieutenant-general and celebrated humanitarian Roméo Dallaire, The Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative is a global partnership committed to ending the use and recruitment of child soldiers worldwide, through ground-breaking research, advocacy, and security-sector training.

Wounded Warriors Canada

Wounded Warriors Canada is a non-profit organization that supports Canada’s ill and injured Canadian Armed Forces members, Veterans, First Responders and their families. Through a wide range of national programs and services, Wounded Warriors is dedicated to providing programs focused on mental health and, particularly, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Media Advisory: Veteran Trainers to Eradicate the Use of Child Soldiers

For Immediate Release

Media advisory

 

Canadian Veterans Join the Fight Against Child Soldiers

Toronto, Ontario, February, 8th – On February 10th, Wounded Warriors Canada will present LGen Roméo Dallaire and the Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative with a $175 000 investment towards the pilot year of the Veteran Trainers to Eradicate the Use of Child Soldiers (VTECS) program. Held at the Royal Military Institute, remarks will be made by LGen Roméo Dallaire, Founder of the Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative and Scott Maxwell, Executive Director of Wounded Warriors Canada. Following the 11:00am cheque presentation, a joint press conference will be held.

The Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative (Dallaire Initiative), is enlisting Canadian veterans in its global fight against child soldiers with the launch of the Veteran Trainers to Eradicate the Use of Child Soldiers (VTECS) program on February 10th. Delivered with the support of Wounded Warriors Canada, the programs, will build on the valuable knowledge, experience and insight Canadian veterans possess to deliver specialized training to prevent the use of child soldiers.

Based out of the Dallaire Initiative’s home, Dalhousie University, the VTECS program will equip Canadian veterans with specialized skills and knowledge to help deliver the Dallaire Initiative’s ground breaking work to prevent the use of child soldiers. Graduates of the VTECS program will help prepare their security sector peers for encounters with child soldiers and strengthen their ability to recognize and interrupt recruitment.

Location: The Royal Military Institute, 426 University Ave., Toronto, ON.

Date: February­­ 10th, 2015

Time: 11:00 am

 

For more information, please contact:

 

Media contacts:

The Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative

Josh Boyter

[email protected]

1 902 494 2392 (office)

1 902 489. 6767 (cell)

Wounded Warriors Canada

Scott Maxwell

[email protected]

289-388-6181

 

About the organizations

The Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative

The Dallaire Initiative, based at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, is recognized as the only organization in the world that is taking a prevention-oriented, security sector focused approach to the crime against humanity that is child soldiery. Founded by retired lieutenant-general and celebrated humanitarian Roméo Dallaire, The Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative is a global partnership committed to ending the use and recruitment of child soldiers worldwide, through ground-breaking research, advocacy, and security-sector training.

Wounded Warriors Canada

Wounded Warriors Canada is a non-profit organization that supports Canada’s ill and injured Canadian Armed Forces members, Veterans, First Responders and their families. Through a wide range of national programs and services, Wounded Warriors is dedicated to providing programs focused on mental health and, particularly, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.