Canada

Military doing better job since Somalia scandal

A federal committee has released its report on how much the Canadian military has changed since the Somalia scandal of 1993.

Seven years ago, Canadian peacekeepers tortured and beat to death Shidane Arone, a 16-year-old Somali boy they had taken prisoner. The military was criticized for trying to cover up the death.

An inquiry recommended the armed forces become more open to public scrutiny.

The final report says that, in general, the committee supports the way the military has handled reforms. It says the military is much more open now while doing a better job of training troops for overseas missions like Somalia and weeding out soldiers who may cause problems.

John Fraser, a former speaker of the House of Commons, who chaired the committee, admits, however, there are still problems. "This is only the first step in the process of meaningful reform," he said.

For instance, Fraser says there's resistance to a government plan to require many military officers to have university degrees.

Fraser says too many senior officers still believe soldiers have no use for higher education.

Another problem, says the report, is the restructuring of the Canadian Forces Reserves.

But, overall, Fraser says that given the changes in the military, he doesn't believe an incident like Somalia could happen again.

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