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Alliances needed to fight extremism

The head of American special forces delivered a pitch for closer co-operation among allies to deal with global flash points, in a speech likely to receive a cool reception in deficit-minded Ottawa.

Admiral Bill McRaven, head of U.S. Special Operations Command, said the lessons of the post 9/11 world are clear.

Local acts of terrorism can quickly become a global phenomenon and it is cheaper to deal early with nations teetering on the brink of anarchy rather than allow them to become regional problems, he said.

The job is not for one nation, McRaven told a packed luncheon at a defence conference.

"The U.S. cannot address the challenges of tomorrow alone. They are too diverse, too unpredictable," he said.

"We don't have the fiscal capability, the manpower, and in some cases the resources to go it alone. None of us do."

To prevent violence-plagued countries from becoming failed states, McRaven said, special forces need to train local forces.

Relationships with security forces in trouble spots are also key.

And countries with highly skilled commando and counter-terrorism units should be more formally bound together on the international level, perhaps under the umbrella of NATO's recently created special forces command.

His pitch stands in contrast to the prevailing wisdom in Ottawa, where the Harper government has made clear it will not send combat troops, commandos or otherwise, to the world's trouble spots, such as Mali.

McRaven says his speech Friday to the Conference of Defence Associations annual meeting was not aimed at Canada, or intended to be political.

The Canadian Press


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