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New secret commando unit in works
by Stephanie Rubec    The Edmonton Sun
Entered into the database on Friday, February 03rd, 2006 @ 15:38:17 MST


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A new secret commando unit will begin operating out of CFB Petawawa in Ontario by year's end and see its ranks swell to 750 strong, according to the force's new commander.

Col. David Barr said the first soldiers vying for a coveted spot on the special regiment will first have to complete a gruelling 16-week elite training session beginning in April in Petawawa.

Barr said he expects about 260 soldiers of that first group will meet the "high standard" set during the course and will then participate in some fall training before being deemed ready to conduct operations abroad.

"It will better enable us to counter, fight and defeat the terrorist threat at home and abroad," Barr told reporters yesterday after being sworn in as the first commander of the Canadian special operations forces command.

He said the first pool of soldiers will mostly be plucked from existing units located at CFB Petawawa.

The regiment is being created to complement the secretive Joint Task Force, whose commandos are now hunting down Taliban and al-Qaida forces in Afghanistan.

"It allows us to have JTF 2 do the real precision work, but be supported by special operators that they work with, they train with, that they have confidence in," Barr explained.

The regiment will also be deploying clusters of its members to conduct secret missions abroad without JTF 2 members.

JTF 2 is itself in the midst of a massive recruiting effort as the military moves to double the unit's numbers in an effort to increase its phalanx of assaulters and support staff.

All soldiers working under the Canadian special operations forces command, including JTF 2, the special operations regiment, the 467 helicopter squadron in Petawawa and the joint nuclear biological, chemical squadron in Trenton, Ont., will wear tan berets.

Barr said the creation of a special operations regiment has the Canadian Forces following in the footsteps of other militaries that discovered in recent years a need for a multi-tasking specialized unit that can provide muscle in missions abroad, support special forces soldiers and deploy in small units of about 12 soldiers to tackle tough jobs abroad.