Officials say Operation Saturn will support the U.N.-African Union mission in the war-torn Darfur region of Sudan. The U.N.-A.U. mission took over from the A.U. Mission in Sudan at the beginning of January, resulting in the phaseout of Canadian troops supporting AMIS and replacing them with the new Operation Saturn mission.
"The significant and tangible contributions Canadian Forces personnel have already made in Darfur will continue in the new mission," Lt.-Gen. Michel Gauthier, commander of Canadian Expeditionary Force Command, said in a statement. "The cooperative approach taken to mount the new hybrid U.N.-African Union mission in Darfur is an important development in efforts to bring peace to Sudan, and we are proud to be part of it."
The deployment comes at a time when critics argue that the Canadian Forces are stretched too thin. Canadian policymakers are debating the future role of Canadian troops in Afghanistan. Germany and France recently refused to send additional troops to Afghanistan to aid in the growing security challenges in the country despite U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates personally asking both countries to increase NATO's strength.