Canada and the Cold War, a personal view

Canada and the Cold War - a personal view

Der Flugplatz, "Dangerous find", 3 Fighter Wing, Zweibrücken, Germany, 23 March 1962.

My father served in the RCAF during the Cold War, and during his service from 1954 to 1974, our family was based at 3 Fighter Wing, Zweibrucken, Germany (1959-1963).  The legacy of the Second World War and the damage caused by it was prevalent everywhere back then.  While searching for fossils in a nearby farmer's field, I came upon a hand grenade that had been left behind by Allied soldiers ca 1945.  I was with an adult who carefully led me away and reported it to the Air Force Police on base.  They decided to use the photo as a public service warning to children of all ages in the community to be aware and stay well clear of any such unexploded ordnance.  Cpl Arnold Eugen Precoor and I made the cover of Der Flugplatz, a weekly news magazine published by the 3 (F) Wing Public Affairs office.

LCol Paul Thobo-Carlse, Director of History and Heritage, Canadian Military Police Association, put the following article together:

The cover of the 23 March 1962 edition of der Flugplatz, the magazine of No. 3 Fighter Wing, RCAF Station Zweibrücken, Germany, featured an interesting picture of an RCAF policeman, a young boy, and a hand grenade over the caption of "Dangerous Find".  The boy was Harold Skaarup, a name familiar to many older MP veterans.  In 1971, 'Hal' joined the reserve component of the Canadian Armed Forces' new dual-function Security Branch as an intelligence officer.  After transferring to the regular force in 1983, into the newly separated Intelligence Branch, he twice served as a staff member with the Canadian Forces School of Intelligence and Security in Borden - first in 1984 and later in the early 1990s.[1] Hal kindly provided us with the backstory to this der Flugplatz cover.  

Harold's father was a member of the RCAF and in 1962 their family lived not far from the 3 Wing airfield in Zweibrücken.[2] Eleven year old Hal was out hunting for fossils in a nearby field with an adult neighbour who was a rock hound. While scouring an area where his neighbour had previous found fossils, Hal spotted the grenade. Recalling the numerous lectures given at the base school about the dangers posed by the various types of military ordinance that frequently turned up in the region—including unexploded munitions from two World Wars, jettisoned aircraft fuel tanks and debris from crashed RCAF fighter jets—Hal stopped right where he was until the neighbour drew him back and the two got out of the field with wary eyes still cast toward the small bomb.  

The next day the school principal summoned young Hal from his classroom, and he was met by Corporal Armand E. Precoor from the station's Air Force Police section. Far from being in trouble, the youngster was asked to accompany the service policeman back to the site along with a base photographer to make a photo story for der Flugplatz about unexploded ordinance safety. Hal believes the grenade was later assessed by the base ordinance disposal team to be inactive, although the story he was told at the time was that it had been destroyed in place (perhaps as a way to dissuade other less cautious children from touching such objects if found in the future).

Corporal Precoor would have been particularly attuned to the dangers of unexploded ordinance since he had previously served in the RCAF during the Second World War. He subsequently rejoined the air force as a service policeman in the 1950s—serving in Hamilton ON, North Bay ON, Goose Bay NL, Toronto (Downsview) ON, Zwiebrücken, Calgary AB, Comox BC, Kamloops BC, and finally Moose Jaw SK where he retired in 1973 as a Sergeant. Armand Precoor passed away in 1979.

Hal Skaarup retired from the CAF after 40 years of combined reserve and regular force service, but he remains very active in the military history arena and has authored numerous books, including a 3-volume set on the history of Canadian Military Intelligence. This series has detailed coverage of the period from 1968 to 1981 when all Military Police and Intelligence occupations fell within the dual-function Security Branch. Hal currently maintains an extensive online history blog that includes a page dedicated to the Canadian Provost Corps (, and another which commemorates an uncle who served in the Provost Corps ([3]

1.  The Canadian Forces School of Intelligence and Security (CFSIS) in Borden, ON was the predecessor of both the Canadian Forces Military Police Academy (Borden, ON) and the Canadian Forces School of Military Intelligence (Kingston, ON). CFSIS conducted all military police, security and intelligence training for the Canadian Armed Forces from 1968 until 1999.
2. In March 1953, No. 3 (Fighter) Wing Zwiebrücken was the second RCAF base to open in continental Europe during the Cold War, It followed the stand-up of No. 2 (Fighter) Wing at Grostenquin, France in October 1952. No. 4 (Fighter) Wing Baden-Soellingen, Germany opened a year later in September 1953.  The town of Zwiebrücken is located in the southwest of Germany in Rhineland-Palatinate, adjacent to the Lorrain region of France. The town was largely destroyed during the Second World War but was rebuilt and is now a small city of 35,000 inhabitants. The USAF took over the Zwiebrücken airbase when Canada vacated it in 1969, and operated there until 1991. For more info see
3.  Harold Skaarup retired from the Regular Force as a Major on 8 Aug 2011. He was later appointed as Honorary Lieutenant-Colonel for 3 Intelligence Company in Halifax, and was back in uniform in that capacity from 1 Feb 2015 to 1 Feb 2018.

(RCAF Photo)

Cpl Arnold Eugen Precoor, RCAF Military Police, and Hal Skaarup, Zweibrücken, Germany, March 1962.

(Bundesarchiv, Bild 145-P061246)

Berlin Wall, shown here in 1961.  It stood until 1989.

During our time in Zweibrücken, on 13 August 1961, the Communist government of the German Democratic Republic (GDR), which we called "East Germany", began to build a barbed wire and concrete “Antifascistischer Schutzwall,” or “antifascist bulwark,” between East and West Berlin.  The official purpose of this Berlin Wall was to keep Western “fascists” from entering East Germany and undermining the socialist state, but it primarily served the objective of stemming mass defections from East to West.  The Berlin Wall stood until 9 November 1989, when the head of the East German Communist Party announced that citizens of the GDR could cross the border whenever they pleased.  That night, ecstatic crowds swarmed the wall.  Some crossed freely into West Berlin, while others brought hammers and picks and began to chip away at the wall itself.  To this day, the Berlin Wall remains one of the most powerful and enduring symbols of the Cold War.

Most of the notes on general history here are extracted from Wikipedia files, and if you need more detail on a specific crisis mentioned here, go to their web pages.  My aim here is to add my personal observations and notes from where I was when these momentous events happened.

The Cold War is considered to have been a period of geopolitical tension between the  Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) and its Eastern Bloc allies, and the USA and its Western Bloc allies after the end of the Second World War.  It began with the defection of a Soviet cypher clerk in Ottawa in 1945 and lasted until the dissolution of the USSR in 1991.  The term "cold" is used because there was no large-scale fighting directly between the two superpowers, although both sides supported major regional conflicts known as proxy wars.  The conflict was based around the ideological and geopolitical struggle for global influence by the two powers, following their temporary alliance during the Second World War.  The doctrine of mutually assured destruction (MAD) discouraged a pre-emptive attack by either side.  Aside from the development and expansion of the nuclear arsenals held by both sides, and conventional military deployments, the struggle for dominance was expressed via indirect means such as psychological warfare, propaganda campaigns, espionage, far-reaching embargoes, rivalry at sports events and technological competitions such as the Space Race.

I was not "there" for all of the events that unfolded during the Cold War, but our family was significantly engaged for a good part of it.


I was very fortunate to serve a second tour at Lahr with 4 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group (4 CMBG) from 1989 to 1992, during the time when the wall was finally torn down.  My sons at that time were about the same age I was when the wall went up, and very few were sorry to see it go.  It took a whole generation to undo the harm that wall did.

(Vitaly V. Kuzmin Photo)

The threat to the west during my tours in Germany was radically different then to what it is today.  This is a photo of an RT-2PM2 Topol-M TEL in Russia that could have been used against us at that time.  This intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) has a range of 11,000 km (6,800 miles), which means there are very few, if any, places you can hide from it.

In October 1962, all of us living with members of the Canadian Forces in Germany were acutely aware of the Cuban Missile Crisis.  This was a 13-day confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union initiated by Soviet ballistic missile deployment in Cuba.  On 14 October 1962, an American spy plane took photographs of Soviet ballistic missiles being installed in Cuba.  Equipped with nuclear warheads, the missiles were capable of hitting targets in the United States or Canada.  The Canadian Forces were put on alert.

Special Service Medal (SSM) and Canadian Forces decoration.

The Special Service Medal (SSM) was created to recognize members of the Canadian Forces (CF) who are taking part in activities and operations under exceptional circumstances.  This medal is always issued with a bar that specifies the special service being recognized.  The medal is issued only with a bar representing the particular special service.  The bars include: Pakistan, 1989-90, Alert, Peace, NATO, Humanitas, Ranger, Expedition.  The Canadian Forces' Decoration is awarded to officers and Non-Commissioned Members of the Canadian Forces (CF) who have completed twelve years of service. The decoration is awarded to all ranks who have a good record of conduct.

I volunteer as a tour guide at the New Brunswick Military History Museum at 5 Canadian Division Support Base Gagetown, and often take groups of children and seniors on visits to our exhibits. There are lots of medal displays, but one I like to point to is the Special Service Medal (SSM).  My father earned his with the RCAF serving at 3 (F) Wing, Zweibrucken, Germany, (1959-1963).  I was a grade school student and during those years we often had air raid drills - the Cold War was a very real part of our lives then.

I particularly remember the 1962 Cuban Missile crisis.  It was the first time I remember my father coming home wearing a pistol - he was an RCAF mobile support equipment (MSE) operator, and that was unusual.  The atmosphere was grim, and all were aware, including us as children, that the first strikes would catch us first.  We practiced air raid drills at school, and there was no laughing by the participants.  Some of you may remember the report of Nikita Khruschchev, First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1953 to 1964, taking off his shoe in the United Nations and banging it down on the podium shouting "we will bury you!"

(Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-B0628-0015-035 / Heinz Junge)

Nikita Khruschchev, 28 June 1963.

I take school groups on guided tours of the New Brunswick Military History Museum at 5 Canadian Division Support Base (5 CDSB) Gagetown, New Brunswick and at the Fredericton Region Museum, and during the tour I sometimes ask them to hit the deck to practice an air raid drill.  Weather permitting, I take the kids outdoors and tell them we are going to have a practice air raid drill, then shout "air raid, air raid, air raid" and they all hit the deck.  (I also use the words "Snowball, Snowball, Snowball", which many 1 CAG and 4 CMBG veterans will remember very well).  The kids get a kick out of it.  If they are in school, I have them hide under their desks or cover their heads. Sometimes we have veterans with us, and I tell them, look, these retired servicemen and women don't have many medals, but when you see a Cold War veteran wearing this one, go over and shake their hand and say thank you - because of their service, they were ready to do the job and go to war if need be, we didn't have a war, and you never had to go through an air raid for real.  (I earned mine in two tours in Lahr, 1981-1983 and 1989-1992).  On behalf of all the school children who are still learning about those who served overseas and at home during the Cold War and why it counts, I say thank you.  Unfortunately, many of them understand better than I did, as they now practice "active shooter" drills where my grandchildren go to school.

How did we get here from there?  It takes a bit of a historical review to perhaps understand.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4167256)

M4A2 Sherman and Sherman Firefly Vc tanks, LdSH, 5th Canadian Armoured Division, Elde, Netherlands, May 1945.

1945: Canada emerges from the Second World War.  Victory in Europe, the official end of the fighting in Europe in the Second World War, was celebrated on 8 May 1945, after Germany's unconditional surrender.  In cities and towns across Canada, a war-weary nation expressed its joy and relief at the news. The war was not over, however, as conflict with Japan continued.

Canadians had been at war since September 1939.  Over the course of the Second World War, the country's economy had been transformed, a generation of young men had been mobilized to defeat the Axis powers, and since 1942 a debate over conscription had divided both Canadians and the government of Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King.

By the spring of 1945, Canadians had waged war against a relentless enemy in the North Atlantic, at Hong Kong, Dieppe and Normandy, in the air over Germany, and in the Netherlands and the Rhineland.  More than a million Canadians had served in the armed forces.  42,000 had been killed and tens of thousands more were wounded or awaiting liberation in prisoner of war camps.

(Australian War Memorial Photo, ID 040970)

The surrender of the Empire of Japan marked the end of hostilities in the Second World War.  The Japanese instrument of surrender was signed by representatives from the Empire of Japan, the USA, the Republic of China, the UK, the USSR, Australia, Canada, France, the Netherlands and New Zealand on the deck of USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay on 2 Sep 1945.  Colonel Lawrence Moore Cosgrave, DSO and bar, was the Canadian representative at the official surrender of Japan, is shown here signing on Canada's behalf.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, PA129625)

1945: Soviet spy Igor Sergeyevich Gouzenko shown here in 1966, wearing a hood, was a cipher clerk for Soviet embassy to Canada in Ottawa.  He defected on 5 Sep 1945, three days after the surrender of Japan, with 109 documents on the USSR's espionage activities in the West.  Prime Minister Mackenzie King called a Royal Commission to investigate espionage in Canada.  Gouzenko exposed Soviet intelligence efforts to collect data on the West's nuclear secrets as well as their use of the technique of planting sleeper agents.  The "Gouzenko Affair" is often credited as a triggering event of the Cold War, because it alerted the people of North America to the magnitude and the danger of the Soviet threat.  Over half of the convictions under the Official Secrets Act were a result of Gouzenko's defection.  The event marked the start of Canada’s intimate involvement with the US and UK in the Cold War.

Canada’s strategic and political position in the world in 1945 had undergone considerable change from where it had been in 1939.  “The requirement for Intelligence and security in the Canadian Army after the war was recognized and the Canadian Intelligence Corps was therefore included in the post-war regular Army.  It was one of the first such Corps to be included in the Regular Forces of any nation” (Britain, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa developed their Regular Force Intelligence organizations much later).  Both British and American authorities referred to the C Int C “when they eventually created their own regular Intelligence Corps some years later.  In the immediate post-war period, the Canadian Intelligence Corps was largely concerned with security duties and could almost have been called a Counter Intelligence Corps.  The Gouzenko spy case undoubtedly had some influence on this.”  A Short History of Canadian Intelligence, CFSIS PRÉCIS 8-014(A), January 1987, p. 15.

(USGOV-PD Photo)

Children observing a USAAF Douglas C-54 Skymaster four-engined transport aircraft flying in relief supplies to overcome the Berlin Blockade (24 June 1948 – 12 May 1949), the first major international crises of the Cold War.  During the multinational occupation of post-Second World War Germany, the USSR blocked access to Berlin by the Western Allied nations railway, road, and canal routes under Western control.  The Soviets offered to drop the blockade if the Western Allies withdrew the newly introduced Deutsche Mark from West Berlin.  In response, the Western Allies organised the Berlin Airlift (26 June 1948 – 30 September 1949) to carry supplies to the people of West Berlin, a difficult feat given the size of the city's population.  The Americans and British then began a joint operation in support of the entire city.

Aircrews from the American, British, Canadian, French, Australian, New Zealand and South African air forces flew over 200,000 sorties in one year, providing to the West Berliners necessities such as fuel and food, with the original plan being to lift 3,475 tons of supplies daily.  By the spring of 1949, that number was often met twofold, with the peak daily delivery totalling 12,941 tons.  By this time the airlift was clearly succeeding, delivering more cargo than had previously been transported into the city by rail.  The Soviets did not disrupt the airlift for fear this might lead to open conflict, even though they far outnumbered the allies in Germany and especially Berlin.

On 12 May 1949, the USSR lifted the blockade of West Berlin, although for a time the Americans and British continued to supply the city by air anyway because they were worried that the Soviets were simply going to resume the blockade and were only trying to disrupt western supply lines.  The Berlin Airlift officially ended on 30 September 1949 after fifteen months.  The US Air Force had delivered 1,783,573 tons (76.40% of total) and the RAF 541,937 tons (23.30% of total), totalling 2,334,374 tons, nearly two-thirds of which was coal, on 278,228 flights to Berlin.  The C-47s and C-54s together flew over 92 million miles in the process, and at the height of the Airlift, one plane reached West Berlin every thirty seconds.  Seventeen American and eight British aircraft crashed during the operation.  A total of 101 fatalities were recorded as a result of the operation, including 40 British personnel and 31 Americans, mostly due to non-flying accidents.  The Berlin Blockade served to highlight the competing ideological and economic visions for postwar Europe and played a major role in drawing West Germany into the NATO orbit several years later in 1955.

Mao Zedong's People's Republic of China (PRC) was proclaimed on 1 Oct 1949 after Communist party of China defeated the Kuomintang and won the Chinese Civil War.  The PRC was supported by the USSR in the 1950s, but later became enemies until the USSR fell in 1991.

(Stan Lucian, Tanks Encyclopedia Photo)

Canadian Sherman M4A3(76)W HVSS tank in Korea, firing at enemy bunkers on Napalm Ridge, in support of the 8th ROK Division, May 1952.

The Korean War was fought from 25 June 1950 to 27 July 1953 between North Korea (with the support of China and the USSR) and South Korea (with the support of the United Nations (UN), including Canada).  The war began on 25 June 1950 when North Korea invaded South Korea.  As part of a UN force consisting of 16 countries, 26,791 Canadian military personnel served in the Korean War, during both the combat phase and as peacekeepers afterward.  The last Canadian soldiers left Korea in 1957.  After the two world wars, Korea remains Canada’s third-bloodiest overseas conflict.  1,558 became casualties, including 516 deaths, most due to combat.  The two Koreas remain technically at war today.  

In November 1950, the Canadian Army brigade’s 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry Regiment, was sent overseas and landed in Korea in December.  In May 1951, the rest of the Canadian brigade arrived.  For the army, the Korean War became largely a “war of patrols” in rough, mountainous terrain, but infantry, tank, and artillery units were also involved in heavy fighting at the battles of Kapyong (22-25 April 1951), Hill 355, also known as Kowang-San, (22-25 November 1951 and 22-24 October 1952), and Hill 187 (2-3 May 1953), among many other actions.  Eight Canadian warships took turns in Korean waters protecting UN aircraft carriers, busting enemy trains along the coasts, and helping other onshore operations.  The air force’s transport planes ferried people and materials across the Pacific Ocean, while 22 Canadian pilots flew jet aircraft with the United States Air Force in Korea.

(DND Photo)

Canadair CL-2 North Star Mk. I, RCAF (Serial No. 17511), No. 426 Squadron, with cargo being unloaded in Tokyo, Japan by American troops during the Korean War.

 (USN Photo)

HMCS Athabaskan (R79), off the Korean coast, ca 1950.  The last of her class to be completed, "Athabee" was commissioned at Halifax on 20 Jan 1948, and sailed in mid-May 1948 for the west coast, where she trained new entries and officer cadets until the outbreak of the Korean War.  She sailed from Esquimalt on 05 Jul 1950, for the first of three tours of duty in Korean waters, returning 11 Dec 1953, from the last of them.  In Oct 1954, she emerged from an extensive conversion classed as a destroyer escort 9219), and resumed her training role.  On 7 Aug 1955, while on a Pacific Training Cruise with HMCS Cayuga, HMCS Athabaskan docked at Long Beach, California, with a stowaway on board. Joycelyn Joan Pilapil, a 16 year old Hawaiian girl, had hid in the after awning stores and was discovered there the day after the ship sailed from Hilo.  She was turned over to authorities in Long Beach and was eventually returned to Hilo.  In Jan 1959, HMCS Athabaskan left for the east coast to become part of a homogeneous Tribal class squadron.  On 16 Feb 1959, HMCS Athabaskan and HMCS Cayuga arrived in Halifax.  Their west coast crews returned to BC with HMCS St. Laurent and HMCS Saguenay.  In Dec 1959, during a 6-week deployment that included a NATO Exercise, HMCS Bonaventure, in company with HMCS Algonquin, HMCS Iroquois, HMCS Sioux and, HMCS Athabaskan encountered a major storm that battered the squadron.  In the summer of 1963, after completing a refit at Marine Industries, Sorel, Quebec, HMCS Athabaskan was acting a plane guard for HMCS Bonaventure, exercising in the North Atlantic.  On completion of this exercise she was to proceed to Portsmouth for radar calibration.  While so employed, she was fueling from HMCS Bonaventure when the two ships collided.  HMCS Bonaventure received some minor damage, while HMCS Athabaskan's was more serious.  HMCS Athabaskan proceed to Belfast, Northern Ireland for temporary repairs before proceeding to Portsmouth for radar calibration and permanent repairs.  On 1 Mar 1964, HMCS Athabaskan rescued 34 of 36 crew members from the Liberian tanker Amphialos which broke up and sank approx 250 nautical miles south of Liverpool, NS.  After five more years of training cruises and NATO exercises she was placed in reserve at Halifax and, on 21 Apr 1966, paid off for disposal.  She was broken up at La Spezia, Italy, in 1970.

(Bill Olson, Library and Archives Canada Photo, PA114890)

Sergeant Tommy Prince (second left) with Major George Flint and other officers of 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (PPCLI) prior to a 1951 patrol.  Prince, an aboriginal, was one of Canada’s most decorated soldiers.

After several months of movement by both sides, in mid-1951 the front lines became static near the 38th parallel.  Until the war ended the fighting took place along these lines, mostly consisting of patrols and raids against hilltop trench positions across the area in-between UN and enemy lines, known as “No Man’s Land.”  During the two years that followed the 1953 armistice, Canadians continued to serve in Korea; many were troops who guarded and patrolled the ROK’s side of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), which continues to separate the two Koreas.  All Canadian Armed Forces personnel who served in Korea from 1950 to 1957 are considered Korean War veterans.

Korean War Medal, United Nations in Korea Medal and UN Service in Korea Medal.

Canadians and Peacekeeping

Canadians have participated in most of the peacekeeping operations since the Korean War, and it has ben recognized for its willingness to take part in military solutions for the common good of all the world's nations and not just its allies.  Since 1995, however, Canada's direct participation in United Nations peacekeeping efforts has decreased.  This is primarliy because Canada currently focuses its participation on UN-sanctioned military operations through NATO, rather than through the UN.

United Nations Temporary Commission on Korea (UNTCOK), 1947-1949

UNTCOK was a body that oversaw elections in South Korea in May 1948.  The commission initially was composed of nine nations, and Australia, Canada and Syria played a dissenting role, resisting US plans to hold separate elections in South Korea.  After the UN General Assembly adopted the resolution on UNTCOK on 14 Nov 1948, Canadian Secretary of State for External Affairs, Lester B. Pearson, invited George Patterson, a Canadian missionary and diplomat who at the time was posted in Tokyo, Japan, to ask him to become Canada's representative on UNTCOK.  This was a heavy responsibility, particularly in light of Soviet boycotting of UNTCOK.  Pearson was looking for a person 'who could give leadership in the work of the Commission.  In Soviet-controlled North Korea, the body was not  recognized, with the Soviets arguing that the commission would break the 1945 Moscow Accords.  The Soviets also argued that it violated Articles 32 and 107 of the UN Charter.  Article 32 requires that both sides of the dispute be consulted, but Korean representatives from North and South Korea were never invited to address the UN.  Also, Article 107 denied jurisdiction to the UN over postwar settlement issues.

United Nations Command Military Armistice Commission, July 1953 – Mid-1978

When the Korean War began in 1950, an international force was formed under UN auspices to prevent the invasion of South Korea by its Communist neighbours, North Korea and the People's Republic of China.  To this effort, Canada contributed a brigade group, a naval task group of three destroyers, and a strategic airlift squadron.  By 1953, when the armistice was signed, 26,791 Canadians had served in the Korea War and 516 of them had died as a result of enemy action.  The United Nations Command Military Armistice Commission (UNCMAC) was established in July 1953 to supervise the implementation of the armistice agreement.  From July 1953 until 1978, the Canadian Forces posted one officer to UNCMAC.  In mid-1978, these duties were transferred to the Canadian military attaché in Seoul.  UNCMAC has since become Canada's longest UN commitment, although it no longer constitutes a distinct Canadian operation with assigned military personnel.

The UNCMAC is now composed of four permanent members and one rotating member - a senior officer of the UNCMAC Advisory Group.  One of the duties of the Canadian military attaché in Seoul (a colonel or Navy captain posted to the Canadian Embassy) is to serve on the UNCMAC Advisory Group.  Every 36 months, the attaché also stands as a member of UNCMAC for a duration of six months.  The last time this occurred was from December 2002 to June 2003.  In addition, as a member of the UNCMAC Advisory Group, the attaché conducts regular inspections of the demilitarized zone and investigates any Armistice violations.

Arab-Israeli War, 1948

The 1948 (or First) Arab–Israeli War was the second and final stage of the 1947-1949 Palestine war.  It formally began following the end of the British Mandate for Palestine at midnight on 14 May 1948; the Israeli Declaration of Independence had been issued earlier that day, and a military coalition of Arab states entered the territory of British Palestine in the morning of 15 May.

The first deaths of the 1947–49 Palestine war occurred on 30 November 1947 during an ambush of two buses carrying Jews.  There had been tension and conflict between the Arabs and the Jews, and between each of them and the British forces since the 1917 Balfour Declaration and the 1920 creation of the British Mandate of Palestine.  British policies dissatisfied both Arabs and Jews.  Arab opposition developed into the 1936-1939 Arab revolt in Palestine, while the Jewish resistance developed into the Jewish insurgency in Palestine (1944–1947).  In 1947, these on-going tensions erupted into civil war following the 29 November 1947 adoption of the UN Partition Plan for Palestine, which planned to divide Palestine into an Arab state, a Jewish state, and the Special International Regime encompassing the cities of Jerusalem and Bethlehem.

On 15 May 1948, the civil war transformed into a conflict between Israel and the Arab states following the Israeli Declaration of Independence the previous day.  Egypt, Transjordan, Syria, and expeditionary forces from Iraq entered Palestine.  The invading forces took control of the Arab areas and immediately attacked Israeli forces and several Jewish settlements.  The 10 months of fighting took place mostly on the territory of the British Mandate and in the Sinai Peninsula and southern Lebanon, interrupted by several truce periods.

(Bukvoed Photo)

Syrian Renault R-35 light tank damaged at kibbutz Degania Alef.

As a result of the war, the State of Israel controlled the area that UN General Assembly Resolution 181 had recommended for the proposed Jewish state, as well as almost 60-percent of the area of Arab state proposed by the 1947 Partition Plan.  The conflict triggered significant demographic change throughout the Middle East. Around 700,000 Palestinian Arabs fled or were expelled from their homes in the area that became Israel, and they became Palestinian refugees in what they refer to as Al-Nakba ("the catastrophe").  In the three years following the war, about 700,000 Jews emigrated to Israel.  Around 260,000 Jews came to Israel from the Arab world during and immediately after the war

As a result of the Middle East conflict, the United Nations created the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) on 29 May 1948.   Its primary task was providing the military command structure to the peacekeeping forces in the Middle East to enable the peacekeepers to observe and maintain the ceasefire, and as may be necessary in assisting the parties to the Armistice Agreements in the supervision of the application and observance of the terms of those Agreements.  The command structure of the UNTSO was maintained to cover the later peacekeeping organisations of the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) and the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).  

The initial Headquarters of UNTSO was in Cairo, Egypt, but was moved, shortly after its creation, to Haifa, Israel which was a British enclave at that time, in late June 1948.  The Haifa HQ was evacuated on 9 July due to renewed fighting.  With the return of UN peacekeeping forces to Israel on 21 July 1948, the Headquarters for UNTSO was moved again on 7 October 1948 for the third and final time to the Commissioner's Palace in Jerusalem.  Canada is one of 22 countries contributing military resources to UNTSO, including 110 personnel.

The first UN forces to arrive in southern Lebanon were members of UNTSO.  They were followed soon thereafter by a Canadian signals detachment (73 Canadian Signals Squadron) that was temporarily assigned from UNEF II, being relieved by the Canadian Contingent UNIFIL on 29 April.

Based on an urgent appeal from the Secretary-General, Canada agreed to provide a signals troop to UNIFIL until 1 October 1978.  The Canadian op name was Operation ANGORA.  The troop was composed mainly of personnel from the 1st Canadian Signals Regiment in Kingston with 12 augmentees from the Canadian Airborne Regiment.  This initial group of 91 personnel commenced deployment on 18 April from CFB Trenton, Ontario, all were on the ground in Lebanon by 19 April.  The Canadian Contingent was composed of two units: the Canadian Signal Unit UNIFIL (CSU-U) with 89 personnel, and the Chief Signal Officer UNIFIL with two personnel.

The CSU-U was responsible for setting up the communications system between UNIFIL HQ and its deployed battalions. Initially, UNIFIL was to have five battalions and a logistics support unit, totaling 4,000 soldiers.  The CSU-U thus found themselves stretched when they discovered that UNIFIL actually increased to 6,000 as a result of fighting between terrorists and UN forces in early May.  As a result a further draft of twenty-six personnel arrived in theatre on 16 June.  These personnel were recruited from around Canada and allowed the CSU-U to operate in a reasonable manner.

Besides manning the UNIFIL communications net, manning the UNIFIL switchboard and operating the signals dispatch service, the CSU-U found themselves creating an increased communications net, providing local defence and security, and feeding UNIFIL HQ staff.  On 12 July three Canadians were among a group of fifty-two UN soldiers captured by elements of the Palestine Liberation Organization.  They were released unharmed after three hours, although several other UN soldiers were injured in the fighting.

Of the 117 Canadians, two had a slightly different role - the Chief Signals Officer (CSO) and the Chief Communications Operator.  They were responsible for the coordination of the UNIFIL communications system, both voice and data.  The CSO was an acting-lieutenant-colonel who was also appointed the Senior Canadian Officer in UNIFIL.

As specified in the original agreement with the UN, the Canadian Contingent ceased operations on 1 October.  On 2 October, equipment was packed and prepared for shipment through Haifa.  The first group of Canadians left Ismailia on 4 October and were back in Canada on the 6th.  The second group departed from Tel Aviv and were home on 9 October.

The Canadian Signals unit was replaced by a combination of military and civilian communicators.  UNIFIL continues its efforts at maintaining peace and security in the southern area of Lebanon, although under a different mandate. Canadians have participated from time-to-time, as members of UNTSO are often detached to UNIFIL.

On 25 July 2006 four UNTSO observers from Austria, Canada, China and Finland were killed by Israeli strikes on an OGL(Observer Group Lebanon) patrol base near Khiam in southern Lebanon.  According to the UN, the Israelis stated they were responding to "Hezbollah fire from that vicinity" and the four had taken shelter in a bunker under the post.  The area around the site was hit by a precision guided bomb from an Israeli jet and shelled a total of 14 times by Israeli artillery throughout the day despite warning calls made by UN personnel to the IDF.  However, General Alain Pellegrini, then commander of UNIFIL, claims that he attempted to call Israeli officials "five or six times", but never got past their secretaries.  Later, Israeli artillery shelling resumed as a rescue team tried to clear the rubble.

UNTSO Medal and UNIFIL Medal.

India-Pakistan, 1948

Canadians have served with the United Nations Military Observer Group for India-Pakistan (UNMOGIP), since 1948.  Representatives included the First Chief Military Observer and observers.  This group was formed to monitor the cease-fire line between the two nations which broke out shortly after the independence of India and Pakistan took place in 1947.  The UN Commission for India and Pakistan (UNCIP) was established to investigate the issues and mediate between the two countries, which led to the formation of UNMOGIP.


Acting Brigadier Harry Herbert Angle, DSO, ED, was the first Canadian to die while serving the UN.  He was killed in an airplane accident on 17 July 1950 while serving as Chief Military Observer in Kashmir on the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP).  The Dag Hammarskjöld Medal is presented by the United Nations to the families of those who gave their lives in the service of the United Nations.  The Medal, created by the Secretary-General of the United Nations Kofi A. Annan on 22 July 1997 to mark the 50th anniversary of peacekeeping operations, was named after Secretary-General Dag Hammarsjöld, who died in the service of the United Nations when the plane in which he was travelling crashed on 18 September 1961 while visiting the UN mission in the Congo.  With over one hundred medals, Canada is the country that has paid the highest price in human life in the service of the United Nations over the last 50 years of peacekeeping operations.  For Canada, the Medal of Acting Brigadier Harry Herbert Angle, DSO, ED, was presented to our Canadian Ambassador to the UN, Paul Heinbecker, on 29 April 2002.

(CWM Photo)

The Dag Hammarskjöld Medal is a clear colourless lead glass crystal ellipsoid approximately 73 mm wide, 57 mm deep and 38 mm thick, grit blasted with the name and date of death of the recipient on the top, the United Nations logo on the bottom, and the inscriptions “THE DAG HAMMARSKJÖLD MEDAL – IN THE SERVICE OF PEACE” and “MEDAILLE DAG HAMMARSKJÖLD – AU SERVICE DE LA PAIX” on either sides.

Pakistan, 1966

The UN Security Council established UNIPOM to ensure supervision of the cease-fire and the withdrawal of all armed personnel from the Rann of Kutch to Kashmir, a 1,000-mile segment of the western India-Pakistan border.  In February 1966, following a peace conference in Tashkent, the two armies withdrew to their own sides of the border and UNIPOM was disbanded the next month.


UN Good Offices Mission in Afghanistan & Pakistan (UNGOMAP), 1988-1990

UNGOMAP's mission was to assist the Representative of the Secretary-General to lend his good offices to the parties in ensuring the implementation of the Agreements on the Settlement of the Situation Relating to Afghanistan and, in this context, to investigate and report possible violations of any of the provisions of the agreements from May 1988 to March 1990.

Yemen, 1963-1964

The UN Yemen Observer Mission (UNYOM) was established in July 1963 to observe and certify the implementation of the disengagement agreement between Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Republic, this Mission ended its activities and was withdrawn in September 1964.

UNYOM Medal,

Lebanon and Cyprus, 2006

CAF support to DFAIT.  Operation LION: 70 members of the CF departed for Larnaca, Cyprus, at the request of and to assist the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) to facilitate the departure of Canadians from Lebanon.  They joined the 30 CF personnel who were sent to the region earlier to assist Canadian Embassy staff with contingency plans and movement control.  The 100-person contingent was comprised of a headquarters element, telecommunications specialists, a medical section, naval liaison officers, security and movement control personnel.  A small portion of the contingent remained in Larnaca while the others traveled to Beirut to support DFAIT in the departure of Canadian citizens.  The CAF supported the Government of Canada's efforts in helping Canadians leave Lebanon by providing resources to the DFAIT-led mission in that country.  The CAF is assisted DFAIT in facilitating the departure of Canadians who wished to leave Lebanon because of the deteriorating security environment in the area.  Canada provided suitably equipped, readily deployable forces in response to this situation.

Canadian Forces in post-war Germany

Map of the Post war Allied Occupation zones in Germany-145.  The four powers divided "Germany as a whole" into four occupation zones for administrative purposes under the United States, United Kingdom, France and the Soviet Union, respectively.  This division was ratified at the Potsdam Conference (17 July to 2 August 1945).  The four zones were as agreed in February 1945 by the United States, United Kingdom and Soviet Union meeting at the Yalta Conference; setting aside an earlier division into three zones (excluding France) proposed by the London Protocol.

At Potsdam, the United States, United Kingdom and the Soviet Union approved the detachment from Germany as a whole of the German eastern territories east of the Oder-Neisse line, with the exact line of the boundary to be determined at a final German Peace Treaty.  This treaty was expected to confirm the shifting westward of Poland's borders as the United Kingdom and the United States committed themselves to support in any future peace treaty the permanent incorporation of eastern Germany into Poland and the Soviet Union.  From March 1945 to July 1945, these former eastern territories of Germany had been administered under Soviet military occupation authorities, but following the Potsdam Conference they were handed over to Soviet and Polish civilian administrations and ceased to constitute part of Allied-occupied Germany.

In the closing weeks of fighting in Europe, American forces had pushed beyond the agreed boundaries for the future zones of occupation, in some places by as much as 320 km (200 miles).  The so-called line of contact between Soviet and U.S. forces at the end of hostilities, mostly lying eastward of the July 1945-established inner German border, was temporary.  After two months in which they had held areas that had been assigned to the Soviet zone, U.S. forces withdrew in the first days of July 1945.  Some have concluded that this was a crucial move that persuaded the Soviet Union to allow American, British and French forces into their designated sectors in Berlin which occurred at roughly the same time (July 1945), although the need for intelligence gathering, such as Operation PAPERCLIPp, may also have been a factor.

Operation PAPERCLIP was a secret program of the Joint Intelligence Objectives Agency (JIOA) largely carried out by special agents of American Army Counter-Intelligence Corps (CIC) staff, in which more than 1,600 German scientists, engineers, and technicians, including Wernher von Braun and his V-2 rocket team, were taken from Germany to the United States, for U.S. government employment, primarily between 1945 and 1959.  Many were former members, and some were former leaders, of the Nazi Party.  CIC units were also involved in providing security for the Manhattan Project, including duty as couriers of fissionable bomb materials from Los Alamos, New Mexico to Tinian Island in the Pacific.

In the European and Pacific theaters of operations CIC deployed detachments at all levels.  These detachments provided tactical intelligence about the enemy from captured documents, interrogations of captured troops, and from para-military and civilian sources.  They were also involved in providing security for military installations and staging areas, located enemy agents, and acted to counter stay-behind networks.  They also provided training to combat units in security, censorship, the seizure of documents, and the dangers of booby traps.  In some cases CIC agents such as Henry Kissinger found themselves acting as the de facto military government on the occupation of large towns before the arrival of Allied Military Government for Occupied Territories (AMGOT) officers.  As the war in Europe came to a close, CIC were involved in the operations searching for German personnel and research in atomic weapons, rockets and cryptography.  CIC actively continued counterintelligence activities in the Cold War, Korean War and Vietnam War.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4235843)

Hiller CH-112 Nomad helicopters in service with 8th Canadian Hussars Ferret Scout cars, Germany, ca 1960s.

1951: Canada stations troops in France and West Germany.  After witnessing the rise of Soviet interventionism in Central and Eastern Europe and the gridlock preventing the United Nations from acting, Canada began preliminary talks for a transatlantic collective security alliance in 1948.  Canada was a founding member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and one of the first countries to propose the idea of a transatlantic defensive alliance.  Working closely with their American and European colleagues, Canadian negotiators helped to write the 14 articles of the North Atlantic Treaty.  Canadians noted that NATO needed to be more than just a military pact, it needed to promote political, economic and cultural bonds between its members.  The treaty was ratified by Canada under the signature of Prime Minister Louis St. Laurent on 30 Apr 1949.  Since the signing of the Treaty, Canada has participated fully in NATO activities, including stationing troops in Europe for the duration of the Cold War.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3239901)

Lester B. Pearson, Canada's Secretary of State for External Affairs, shown here as Prime Minister in 1964, played a key role in drafting the North Atlantic Treaty.  He believed that NATO could and should be more than just a military alliance.  Pearson and the Canadian delegation pushed for the inclusion of a clause that encouraged members to forge stronger political and economic ties, in addition to coordinating their militaries.  This clause, not immediately popular with Allies, but vociferously defended by Canada, came to be known as “the Canadian Article.”

Article 2 of the North Atlantic Treaty:

“The Parties will contribute toward the further development of peaceful and friendly international relations by strengthening their free institutions, by bringing about a better understanding of the principles upon which these institutions are founded, and by promoting conditions of stability and well-being.  They will seek to eliminate conflict in their international economic policies and will encourage economic collaboration between any or all of them.”

Since 1949, Canada has maintained a permanent representation at NATO Headquarters in Europe, following NATO as its headquarters moved from the United Kingdom to France, and from France to Belgium.  During the Cold War, Canada also stationed troops at military bases across Europe, primarily in France and West Germany.  The main Canadian Army base was in Lahr, West Germany and surrounding German communities.  The Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) had its European headquarters in the town of Metz, France, close to the German border. The RCAF maintained air stations on either side of the border: in Grostenquin and Marville in France, and in Zweibrücken and Baden-Soellingen in West Germany.  The last two bases, Baden-Soellingen and Lahr, were closed in 1993.

 (DND Photo via James Craik)

Canadair CF-104 Starfighters (Serial Nos. 12747, 12737, 12847 and 12759 visible), equipped with Vinten Vicom camera recce pods, in formation.  These fighters were based at 1 (F) Wing, 1 Air Division, RCAF Station Marville, France, 1965.

General Guy G. Simonds (Alchetron Photo)

The late 1950s saw a dramatic increase in the Army's size and Canada's largest ever standing army was created, largely through the vision of General G. G. Simonds, the Chief of Defence Staff.  The reason for this expansion was the need to maintain a presence in Germany as part of NATO, while simultaneously providing forces for the Korean War.  Simonds stated that, as the shipping to transport large armies to Europe was not available, any Canadian soldiers wanting to fight in World War Three in Europe should it begin, had best be there when the war began.  From 1950 to 1953, the Canadian military ballooned from having 47,000 personnel to 104,000 personnel by 1953.

Initially, six new regular infantry battalions were raised by regiments of the Militia.  Two were raised from ordinary line infantry regiments, two from regiments of rifles and two from regiments of Highlanders.  When the decision was made to make this arrangement permanent, it was decided that the battalions would become regular battalions of regiments.  The decision was taken to make the rifles and highland battalions part of two of the senior existing militia regiments, while the infantry battalions were organised into a new national regiment:

1st and 2nd Canadian Infantry Battalions – 3rd and 4th Battalions, Canadian Guards (Raised by the Carleton and York Regiment, the Algonquin Regiment, the Loyal Edmonton Regiment, les Fusiliers Mont-Royal and the Hastings and Prince Edward Regiment.)

1st and 2nd Canadian Rifle Battalions – 1st and 2nd Battalions, The Queen's Own Rifles of Canada (Raised by the Queen's Own Rifles of Canada, the Victoria Rifles of Canada, the Royal Winnipeg Rifles, the Regina Rifle Regiment and the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry (Wentworth Regiment).)

1st and 2nd Canadian Highland Battalions – 1st and 2nd Battalions, The Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) of Canada (Raised by the Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) of Canada, the North Nova Scotia Highlanders, 48th Highlanders of Canada, the Seaforth Highlanders of Canada and the Canadian Scottish Regiment (Princess Mary's).)

Simonds was a great believer in esprit de corps as a way of motivating soldiers to fight, and he quite consciously sought to build on the history and traditions of the Canadian Army to provide men serving in the Army with a reason to feel pride in their regiments, and hence a willingness to fight for their regimental honor.  It was for this reason that Simonds had militia regiments like the Black Watch of Montreal, the Queen's Own Rifles of Toronto and the Fort Garry Horse of Winnipeg transferred over to the regular army instead of raising new regiments, and created a Regiment of Canadian Guards who were closely modeled after the Brigade of Guards who protected the royal family in London, right down to the scarlet uniforms and bearskin hats.  By 1953, the defence budget was $1,907 million dollars, ten times the level of 1947, and the end of the Korean War did not mark the end of the high level of military spending, making the 1950s and 1960s the only period that the Canadian government spent large sums on defence in peacetime.  

While the personnel in the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) and the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) were overwhelmingly English-Canadians and where English was the sole language of command, the Canadian Army made some allowance for French-Canadians.  In 1952, the Army opened the Collège Militaire Royal de Saint-Jean to train French-Canadian officer candidates in French (previously all officer candidates had been trained in English at the Royal Military College) in Kingston. At that time, however, the Canadian Army was still a mostly English-speaking institution with the exception of the Royal 22e Régiment based in Quebec.

(DND Photo)

Soldiers of the Royal 22e Régiment with a Karl Gustav recoilless rifle, ca 1963.

Brooke Claxton, the Minister of National Defence, announced an ambitious rearmament program for Canada.  The RCN would be increased to a fleet of 100 ships.  The RCAF would expand to 40 squadrons, 12 of which would form an air division to be stationed in Europe.  The army would increase from brigade to divisional strength.  The RCAF air division, equipped with Canadian-manufactured Canadair CL-13 Sabre jet fighters, started moving its squadrons overseas in 1951 and had 11 out of 12 in Europe by the summer of 1953.  The 12th squadron arrived in 1955.

(National Archives and Records Administration Photo, 6409100)

HMCS Nipigon (DDH 266) (II), underway during NATO Exercise "Ocean Safari '85".

The expanded RCN was to function primarily as an escort and anti-submarine force.  The growing Soviet submarine threat led the RCN to update and convert existing ships to improve their anti-submarine capabilities.  Most notably, 21 wartime River-class frigates were extensively converted to Prestonia-class frigates during the mid-to-late 1950s.  The RCN also acquired several new classes of anti-submarine destroyer (DDEs) to augment its fleet.  Built in Canada, these ships pioneered innovative design features, including a distinctive rounded upper part of the hull which helped seawater drain from the deck during the extremely rough weather and also helped minimize winter-time ice buildup.  The first of these new ships were the seven St. Laurent-class DDEs, which were soon followed by the Restigouche, Mackenzie and Annapolis classes with seven, four, and two vessels respectively.  Following the construction of these new ships throughout the 1950s and early 1960s, the RCN was able to retire most of its remaining vessels dating from the Second World War.  The RCN intended to replace some of the capabilities lost with the retirement of those vessels with the General Purpose Frigate, but after disagreement over the direction of the service, the project was scrapped.

Seeking to improve its ships' anti-submarine capabilities, the RCN pioneered the use of large ship-borne helicopters on small surface ships like destroyers in the rough waters of the North Atlantic and Pacific.  The recovery of helicopters to a wildly pitching flight deck was made possible by the invention of the "Bear Trap", a cable and winch system which hauled a helicopter, hovering at full power, to the flight deck in all manner of conditions.  Using this technology, the St. Laurent-class DDEs were upgraded to destroyer-helicopter (DDH) vessels during the early to mid-1960s to accommodate recently acquired Sikorsky CH-124 Sea King anti-submarine helicopters.  Other ships also received upgrades to increase their anti-submarine capabilities.  The RCN was also actively involved in the development of various forms of ship-borne sonar, most notably the variable depth sonar (VDS), which greatly increased the ranges at which submarines could be detected.  The improved capabilities conferred by these innovations contributed to Canada's NATO allies giving the RCN an expanded anti-submarine role in the North Atlantic.

(RCN Photo)

Restigouche-class destroyer HMCS Kootenay (DDE 258), Replenishment oiler HMCS Provider (AOR 508), Restigouche-class destroyer HMCS Gatineau (DDE 236), Cape-class maintenance ship HMCS Cape Scott, St. Laurent-class destroyer HMCS Ottawa (DDH 229), Majestic-class aircraft carrier HMCS Bonaventure, St. Laurent-class destroyer HMCS Margaree (DDH 230), Annapolis-class destroyer HMCS Nipigon (DDH 266) and St. Laurent-class destroyers HMCS St. Laurent (DDH 205), St. Laurent-class HMCS Fraser (DDH 233) and HMCS Saguenay (DDH 206).

Much of the RCN's experimental work in these fields was conducted in conjunction with the Defence Research Board, and it would later include experiments leading to the development of the fastest warship ever built, the 60-knot (110 km/h) HMCS Bras d'Or.

(DND Photo)

HMCS Bras d’Or (R-103) (I), later renamed HMCS Baddeck (R-103) (II) when FHE 400 was built.  HMCS Bras d’Or (FHE 400) (II)

HMCS Bras d'Or (FHE 400) was a hydrofoil that served in the Canadian Forces from 1968 to 1971.  During sea trials in 1969, the vessel exceeded 63 knots (117 km/h; 72 mph), making her the fastest unarmed warship in the world at the time.  HMCS Bras d'Or was originally built from 1960 to 1967 for the RCN, as a project for the testing of anti-submarine warfare technology on an ocean-going hydrofoil.  The RCN was replaced on 1 February 1968 by the unified Canadian Armed Forces, and Bras d'Or was commissioned into that service several months later.  Changes in priorities and cost overruns later led to the project's cancellation.

HMCS Bras d'Or was named in honour of Bras d'Or Lake on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, where inventor Alexander Graham Bell performed hydrofoil experiments in the early 20th century near his estate and new laboratory at Beinn Bhreagh, setting the world watercraft speed record in the process.  In 1909 the lake was also the historic site of the first flight of an aircraft in Canada and the British Commonwealth; the airplane, named the "Silver Dart", was built by the Aerial Experiment Association under Dr. Bell's tutelage.  The lake's name was thus fitting for a hydrofoil vessel which could 'fly' above an ocean's surface.

By the end of 1953, the  27th Canadian Infantry Brigade (27 CIB) was in West Germany as part of its NATO commitment.  27 CIB later became 4 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group (4 CMBG), which remained stationed in West Germany and later the unified Germany until 1993 and the end of the Cold War.

The future of the Army was put in doubt in the age of nuclear deterrence.  The postwar Militia (the part-time component of the Canadian Army) was re-roled from combat operations to civil defence.  In 1964 the Suttie Commission made suggestions on improving the Army.  In 1968, The Canadian Airborne Regiment, a full-time parachute regiment, was created.

One important early development of concern to the Canadian Intelligence Corps (C Int C) , which I would eventually become associated with in my service career, was the establishment and operation of an Intelligence training school at Camp Petawawa, Ontario, in 1947.  Courses were conducted at the Canadian School of Military Intelligence (CSMI) for both active and later Reserve force personnel of all Corps.  The training of Reserve personnel became a requirement in 1948, when the Canadian Militia was authorized six Intelligence Training Companies

The Militia Intelligence Training Companies were formed in major centres across Canada, and were eventually designated by Unit numbers.  No. 1 Int Trg Coy was located in Montreal, No. 2 Int Trg Coy in Toronto, No. 3 Int Trg Coy in Halifax, No. 4 Int Trg Coy in Vancouver, No. 5 Int Trg Coy in Winnipeg and No. 6 Int Trg Coy in Edmonton.  I eventually served with No. 3 Intelligence Company in Halifax, and No. 6 Intelligence Training Company in Edmonton.  From Feb 2015 to Feb 2018, I had the honour of serving as the Honorary Lieutenant-Colonel for 3 Int Coy.

The basic aim of these companies was to provide a pool of trained manpower to augment the Regular Force.  Many of these Militia personnel were taken into the Regular Force in the early 1950s with the onset of the Korean War.  It was during this same period that Field Security Sections and other Corps representatives were dispatched to both Korea and Germany.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4235424)

Centurion tank on exercise, Camp Gagetown, New Brunswick, summer 1963.  (Gagetown has gone through a series of name changes, initially Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Gagetown, it is now 5 Canadian Division Support Base (5 CDSB) Gagetown.)

Sputnik satellite replica, Moscow (Mikel Vidal Photo)

Sputnik 1 (Prosteyshiy Sputnik-1, "Elementary Satellite 1") was the first artificial Earth satellite.  It was launched into an elliptical low Earth orbit by the USSR on 4 October 1957, orbiting for three weeks before its batteries died, then silently for two more months before falling back into the atmosphere.  It was a 58 cm (23 in) diameter polished metal sphere, with four external radio antennas to broadcast radio pulses.  Its radio signal was easily detectable by radio amateurs, and the 65° inclination and duration of its orbit made its flight path cover virtually the entire inhabited Earth.  The satellite's unanticipated success precipitated the American Sputnik crisis and triggered the Space Race, a significant element of the Cold War.  The launch was the beginning of a new era of political, military, technological, and scientific developments.  The name "Sputnik" is Russian for spouse/traveling companion or satellite when interpreted in an astronomical context.

Tracking and studying Sputnik 1 from Earth provided scientists with valuable information.  The density of the upper atmospher could be deduced from its drag on the orbit, and the propagation of its radio signals gave data about the ionosphere.  The satellite travelled at about 29,000 kilometres per hour (18,000 mph; 8,100 m/s), taking 96.2 minutes to complete each orbit.  It transmitted on 20.005 and 40.002 MHz, which were monitored by radio operators throughout the world.  The signals continued for 21 days until the transmitter batteries ran out on 26 October 1957.  Sputnik burned up on 4 January 1958 while re-entering the Earth's atmosphere, after three months, 1440 completed orbits of the Earth, and a distance travelled of about 70 million km (43 million miles).

I remember hearing about Sputnik, and that Halloween many children dressed up as spacemen.  My father was based at RCAF Station Trenton, Ontario at the time, and as the concerns about Soviet advances continued to hear up, he was posted to 3 (F) Wing, Zweibrucken, Germany.

On 10 June 1959, we took a Taxi from the Queen’s Hotel to Montreal’s Pier 42, where we boarded the Greek Lines ship Arcadia, which sailed at 1700 hours.  I remember Mom losing her glasses overboard while waving Goodbye to the people on shore.  There was lots of confetti, and it was a bright sunny day.  We had a room on the main deck, and I remember that the dining room was very formal.  There were fresh rolls for most meals, nice silverware and waiters.  Land was still in sight on the 11th of Jun.  On the 12th, we heard and saw icebergs crunching against the side of the ship, and watched a school of whales spouting.  We had lifeboat drills about midway through the trip.  Watched a Western Movie on the 13th.  My brother Dale and I got temporarily lost below decks, found our way out after a few anxious moments - it was a big ship.  The ship stopped off Cork, Ireland on the 16th, and we docked at LeHavre, France at 2300 hrs on 17 Jun 1959.  On 18 June we left the ship at 0500 hrs and boarded a coal fed locomotive to go to Paris.  Dad, Dale and I went up to see the engineer stoke the furnace for the train.  We left at 0725 hrs and arrived in Paris at 1130 hrs.  We took three buses to the Hotel for lunch, and then boarded another train for Homburg - five hours, arriving at 2030 hrs.  We moved into our new home at Number 19 Zaberner Straßße, Zweibrücken, Germany after being shown the area by Dad's sponsor, Dick North.  Hans and Annaliese Gunter were our new landlords.  We learned some German words “nicht ferstehen” etc., and played in the area around our new home.  We often walked downtown, passing a train station full of steam trains and electric trams.  Salamander shoes and Parkbrau beer signs stick hard in the memory, and all this time, the Cold War was playing out around us.

My father and I outside our trailer park home near the airfield at Zweibrücken, 1963.

(CIA Photo)

Soviet R-12 medium-range ballistic missile (SS-4), Red Square, Moscow, 1 May 1965.

"We will bury you" - the words of  Nikita Khruschchev, First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, as he took off his shoe and banged it on the table during the 902nd Plenary Meeting of the  in the United Nations General Assembly held in New York City in 1960.

During the Cuban Missile crisis, leaders of the U.S. and the Soviet Union engaged in a tense, 13-day political and military standoff in October 1962 over the installation of nuclear-armed Soviet missiles on Cuba, just 90 miles from U.S. shores.  In a TV address on 22 Oct 1962, President John F. Kennedy notified the world about the presence of the missiles.  He explained his decision to enact a naval blockade around Cuba and made it clear the U.S. was prepared to use military force if necessary to neutralize this perceived threat to national security.  Following this news, many people feared the world was on the brink of nuclear war - those of us in Europe, Canadian Forces personnel and their families, certainly thought so.  The disaster was avoided when the U.S. agreed to Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev’s offer to remove the Cuban missiles in exchange for the U.S. promising not to invade Cuba.  President Kennedy also secretly agreed to remove U.S. missiles from Turkey.

( Photo)

The possibility of a Nuclear blast removing us from this planet was very real during the Cold War.  More than 1000 such tests were conducted by the US between 1945 and 1992, and likely many more by the USSR.  Eight countries have publicly announced successful detonation of nuclear weapons.  These include the USA, Russia, the UK, France, China, India, Pakistan and North Korea.  Israel may have as many as 400 nuclear warheads, but is not known for certain to have conducted a nuclear test.  South Africa developed nuclear weapons but then disassembled its arsenal.  The worldwide total inventory of nuclear weapons as of 2020 is in the range of 13,865, of which 3,750 are deployed with operational forces.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4235075)

Royal Canadian Artillery, 1st Surface-to-Surface Missile Battery, with an M50 762-mm Honest John rocket mounted on a Canadian 5-ton truck.

The Honest John consisted of a truckmounted, unguided and solid-fueled rocket, transported in three separate parts.  Prior to launch, they were combined in the field, mounted on an M-289 launcher, aimed, and fired in approximately five minutes.  The rocket was originally outfitted with a W-7 variable yield nuclear warhead with yields of up to 20 kt. of TNT equivalent; this was followed by a W31 warhead with three variants that was deployed with yields of 2 kt, 10 kt, or 30 kt. In the 1960s, Sarin nerve gas cluster munitions were also available for Honest John launches.

In 1962, the Diefenbaker government approved the purchase of Honest John missiles for NATO service in Germany.  The Honest John was one of several nuclear capable systems authorized by the conservative government at that time, the others being the BOMARC surfaceto-air missile (SAM), the Genie air-toair missile (AAM) used by the McDonnell CF-101 Voodoo, and the earliest of the four types of nuclear bombs carried by the Canadair CF-104 Starfighters in Europe.  The actual provision of nuclear warheads for these systems was a dominant theme of the 1963 general election.  The Royal Canadian Air Force assumed responsibility for the BOMARC missile system while the Honest John was the army’s sole nuclear capable delivery system responsibility.  The creation, in September 1960 of the army’s two SSM Batteries – one for deployment and one for training – occurred simultaneously with disbandment of the army’s antiaircraft artillery school and the 1st Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment.  The two SSM Batteries not only took over the space that these organizations occupied at Camp Picton, Ontario, in the fall of 1960, but also a great many of the personnel. Training on the Honest John system took place in April and May of 1961 in Fort Sill, home of American artillery. On October 27, an Honest John missile was fired at Camp Petawawa, the first by the 1st SSM Battery, Royal Canadian Artillery. In December, 1961 over 225 men of the 1st SSM Battery were deployed to Hemer, Germany, to become part of the British Army of the Rhine under command of the brigadier commanding 4th Canadian Infantry Brigade (4 CIBG) The 1st SSM Battery had four launchers.

The role of the missiles was counter battery and harassment. Canadians in Europe used the warhead with a 2kt yield, though there were compatible warheads with higher yields. It was intended that the two forward deployed launchers would fire and then leapfrog backwards through the two other launchers in what was a “shoot and scoot” concept. The 1st SSM had 115 “operational” missiles and a reported 16 of 69 available warheads from the US Army Missile Warhead Support Detachment of the US Army Special Ammunition Storage Command, which also provided nuclear warheads to a British Army Artillery regiment of six launchers. Unlike the aircraft of the Royal Canadian Air Force, both British and Canadian SSM units had to obtain the nuclear warheads from this American custodian detachment that was co-located with the British Corps, which included 4 CIBG. Authorization for release of nuclear warheads would come directly to the American storage unit in event of a “first strike” situation.

The authority for nuclear warhead release, in most circumstances, was expected to be the Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) who would also pass authority to use the nuclear warheads to the Canadian SSM Battery through the Commander 4 CIBG. There was also a process for the Canadian prime minister to authorize the use by the Canadian missile unit. The 1st Canadian SSM Battery, although an artillery element, did not come under the purview of 4 CIBG’s senior artillery officer, the commanding officer of 4 Royal Canadian Horse Artillery Regiment (4 RCHA). The officer commanding the Battery received instructions directly from Canada’s brigade commander.  The 2nd SSM Battery equipped with two launchers, had been created to provide trained personnel for Europe.  In August 1962, 2nd SSM Battery was moved from Picton to CFB Shilo where it remained until disbandment in September 1968.  That same year, 1st SSM Battery was reduced to two launchers and moved from Hemer to Isherlohn.  In 1970, this Battery was also disbanded.  (Capt (N) Mike Braham)

(DND Photo via Chris Charland)

McDonnell CF-101B Voodoo (Serial No. 101009) from CFB Bagotville-based No. 425 "Alouette" AW (F) Squadron, firing an un-armed nuclear AIR-2A Genie unguided air-to-air rocket.  The Genie was the Voodoo's primary armament, and there was significant political controversy in Canada about their adoption.  Although they never fired a weapon in wartime, the CF-101 served as Canada's primary means of air defence from Quick Reaction Alert facilities at Canadian airbases.  Canadian Voodoo operations finally concluded in April 1987 and on their retirement, they were replaced with McDonnell Douglas CF-118 Hornet fighters.  Many examples are preserved in museums and parks in Canada and the USA.

(NORAD Photo)

McDonnell CF-101 Voodoo (Serial No. 101038), No. 425 "Alouette" Squadron from CFB Bagotville, Quebec, intercepting a Soviet Union Tupolev Tu-95 Bear bomber flying near the buffer zone that NORAD monitors around North America.

(USGOV-PD Photo)

Soviet Delta II class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine.


Underwater Nuclear explosion.  The RCN was equipped with nuclear depth charges.

DEW Line Map.

(DND Photo via James Craik)

Boeing CIM 10B Bomarc (Serial No. 931) in the vertical launch position, La Macasa, Quebec,

The Boeing CIM-10B Bomarc (IM-99B), was a supersonic long-range surface-to-air missile (SAM) in RCAF service during the Cold War for the air defence of North America.  In addition to being the first operational long-range SAM, it was the only SAM deployed by the RCAF.

The Bomarc was stored horizontally in a launcher shelter with movable roof.  When required, the roof was opened and the missile was erected and fired vertically using rocket boosters to send it to high altitude.  The missile then tipped over into a horizontal position and reached a Mach 2.5 cruise level powered by its ramjet engines.  This lofted trajectory allowed the missile to operate at a maximum range as great as 250 miles (400 km).  The Bomarc was controlled from the ground for most of its flight.  When it reached the target area, the controllers directed the missile to begin a dive, activating an onboard active radar homing seeker for terminal guidance.  A radar proximity fuse detonated the warhead, which carried either a large conventional explosive or the W40 nuclear warhead.

As the nuclear threat moved from manned bombers to intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM), the USAF reduced its initial plans to build 52 sites to 8 sites, with an additional two sites in Canada.  The first US site was declared operational in 1959, but with only a single working missile.  Bringing the rest of the missiles into service took years, by which time the system was obsolete.  Deactivations began in 1969 and by 1972 all Bomarc sites had been shut down.  A small number were used as target drones, and only a few remain on display today.

Historical events during the Cold War

Hungarian Revolution, 1956. Budapest protestors are shown here, alongside a destroyed Soviet T-34-85 tank.  The Hungarian Uprising was a nationwide revolution against the Hungarian People's Republic and its Soviet-imposed policies, lasting from 23 October until 10 November 1956.  Leaderless at the beginning, it was the first major threat to Soviet control in the East Bloc since the end of the Second World War.

The revolt began as a student portest, which attracted thousands as they marched through central Budapest to the Hungarian Parliament building, calling out on the streets using a van with loudspeakers.  A student delegation, entering the radio building to try to broadcast the student's demands, was detained.  When the delegation's release was demanded by the protesters outside, they were fired upon from within the building by the Államvédelmi Hatóság (ÁVH) (State Protection Authority).  Multiple students died and one was wrapped in a flag and held above the crowd.  This was the start of the next phase of the revolution.  As the news spread, disorder and violence erupted throughout the capital.

The revolt spread quickly and the government collapsed.  Thousands organised themselves into militias, battling the ÁVH and Soviet troops.  During the revolt there were violent incidents; some local leaders and ÁVH members were lynched or captured, while former political prisoners were released and armed.  Radical impromptu worker's councils wrested municipal control from the ruling Hungarian Working People's Party (Magyar Dolgozók Pártja) and demanded political change.

The new government of Imre Nagy formally disbanded the ÁVH, declared its intention to withdraw from the Warsaw Pact and pledged to re-establish free elections.  By the end of October, fighting had almost stopped, and the days of normality began to return.  Some workers continued fighting in opposition to both the Stalinist regime and the appearances of "Bourgeoisie" parties in its wake.

Initially appearing open to negotiating a withdrawal of Soviet forces, the Politburo changed its mind and moved to crush the revolution.  On 4 November, a large Soviet force invaded Budapest and other regions of the country.  The Hungarian resistance continued until 10 November.  Over 2,500 Hungarians and 700 Soviet troops were killed in the conflict, and 200,000 Hungarians fled as refugees.  Mass arrests and denunciations continued for months thereafter.  By January 1957, the new Soviet-installed government had suppressed all public opposition.  These Soviet actions, while strengthening control over the Eastern Bloc, alienated many Western Marxists, leading to splits and/or considerable losses of membership for communist parties in capitalist states.

While western nations could do little but stand by and watch, many of the survivors and refugees came to Canada after the uprising.

Public discussion about the revolution was suppressed in Hungary for more than 30 years.  Since the thaw of the 1980s, it has been a subject of intense study and debate.  At the inauguration of the Third Hungarian Republic in 1989, 23 October was declared a national holiday.

Suez crisis, 1956.  View of ships sunk.  

The Suez Crisis, or the Second Arab–Israeli war, also called the tripartite aggression and Sinai War in Israel, was an invasion of Egypt in late 1956 by Israel, followed by the UK and France.  The aims were to regain Western control of the Suez Canal and to remove Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser, who had just nationalised the canal.  After the fighting had started, political pressure from the USA, the USSR and the UN led to a withdrawal by the three invaders. The episode humiliated the United Kingdom and France and strengthened Nasser.

Suez crisis, 1956, Egyptian Tanks destroyed, Sinai.

On 29 October, Israel invaded the Egyptian Sinai.  Britain and France issued a joint ultimatum to cease fire, which was ignored.  On 5 November, Britain and France landed paratroopers along the Suez Canal.  The Egyptian forces were defeated, but they did manage to block the canal to all shipping.  It later became clear that Israel, France and Britain had conspired to plan out the invasion.  The three allies had attained a number of their military objectives, but the canal was useless.  Heavy political pressure from the USA and the USSR led to a withdrawal.  U.S. president Dwight D. Eisenhower had strongly warned Britain not to invade; he threatened serious damage to the British financial system by selling the US government's pound sterling bonds. Some historians have concluded the crisis "signified the end of Great Britain's role as one of the world's major powers".

The Suez Canal was closed from October 1956 until March 1957.  Israel fulfilled some of its objectives, such as attaining freedom of navigation through the Straits of Tiran, which Egypt had blocked to Israeli shipping since 1950.

A major international crisis was averted when Lester B. Pearson, Canada’s Secretary of State for External Affairs and a future Prime Minister, devised a multinational peacekeeping force, known as the United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF), which stabilized the area and made it possible for the canal to reopen in April 1957.  These UNEF Peacekeepers were to police the Egyptian - Israeli border.  The conflict also led to the resignation of British prime minister Anthony Eden, and the USSR may have been emboldened to invade Hungary.  On 10 December 1957, Lester B. Pearson was presented with the Nobel Peace Prize for his role in the creation of UNEF.  The original force of 6,000 Troops, under the command of Canadian General E.L.M. Burns, set a precedent for how the UN would attempt to defuse other global conflicts.  Up to 1,007 personnel served with UNEF I from 1956 to 1957.

UNEF I Medal, as earned by my Uncle, WO Carl Skaarup.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4235204)

Royal Canadian Dragoons Ferret Scout Car on a UNEF patrol in the Sinai peninsula, Egypt.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4234757)

RCAF de Havilland CC-123 Otter, UNEF in the Middle East, ca. 1956.

NORAD, 1957

In 1957, Canada and the United States of America agreed to establish the North American Air (now Aerospace) Defence Command (NORAD) as a bi-national command for air defence against the Soviet bomber threat.  Decades later, the end of the Cold War brought about major changes for NORAD, which took into account the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the increasing illegitimate uses of North American airspace for purposes such as drug smuggling.

North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) currently provides aerospace warning, air sovereignty, and protection for Northern America.  Headquarters for NORAD and the NORAD/United States Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) center are located at Peterson Air Force Base in El Paso County, near Colorado Springs, Colorado.  The nearby Cheyenne Mountain Complex has the Alternate Command Center.  The NORAD commander is a US four-star general or equivalent and the NORAD deputy commander (CINCNORAD) is a Canadian three-star general or equivalent.

(USAF Photo)

The 25-ton North blast door inside the Cheyenne Mountain complex is the main entrance to another blast door (background) beyond which the side tunnel branches into access tunnels to the main chambers.  I passed through these doors during my work day many times.  My father did the same while he was serving in the RCAF at RCAF Station North Bay, Ontario from 1963 to 1965.

The NORAD and USNORTHCOM Command Center at Peterson AFB serves as a central collection and coordination facility for a worldwide system of sensors designed to provide the commander and the leadership of Canada and the U.S. with an accurate picture of any aerospace or maritime threat.  NORAD has administratively divided the North American landmass into three regions:  Alaska NORAD (ANR) Region – Eleventh Air Force (11 AF), Canadian NORAD (CANR) Region – 1 Canadian Air Division (1 Cdn Air Div), and the Continental U.S. (CONR) Region – First Air Force (1 AF/CONR-AFNORTH).  Both the CONR and CANR regions are divided into eastern and western sectors.

Canadian NORAD Region Headquarters is at CFB Winnipeg, Manitoba.  It was established on 22 April 1983.  It is responsible for providing surveillance and control of Canadian airspace.  The RCAF provides alert assets to NORAD.  CANR is divided into two sectors, which are designated as the Canada East Sector and Canada West Sector.  Both Sector Operations Control Centers (SOCCs) are co-located at CFB North Bay, Ontario.  The routine operation of the SOCCs includes reporting track data, sensor status and aircraft alert status to NORAD headquarters.  In 1996 CANR was renamed 1 |Canadian Air Division (1 CAD) and moved to CFB Winnipeg.

(Carlos Menendez San Juan Photo)

McDonnell Douglas CF-188 Hornet, RCAF (Serial No. 188703) wearing NORAD 50th anniversary colours.

Canadian air defense forces assigned to NORAD include No. 409 Tactical Fighter Squadron based at CFB Cold Lake, Alberta and No. 425 Tactical Fighter Squadron based at CFB Bagotville, Quebec.  Both squadrons fly the McDonnell Douglas CF-188 Hornet fighter aircraft.

To monitor for drug trafficking, in cooperation with the RCMP and the United States drug law enforcement agencies, the Canadian NORAD Region monitors all air traffic approaching the coast of Canada. Any aircraft that has not filed a flight plan may be directed to land and be inspected by RCMP and Canada Border Services Agency.

I had the privilege of serving with NORAD, USNORTHCOM and USSPACECOM from 1999 to 2003.  Shown here s a group of our NORAD Intelligence staff gathering at the Canada Day celebrations in 2002 in Colorado Springs, Colorado.  

Capt Phil Forward, USAF LCol Humpert, a US Analyst, Maj Hal Skaarup, LCol Susan Beharriell, Lt (N) Debra Mayfield, MWO Jack Campbell, WO Roch Guertin, WO Rick Gill (CFILO Washington), and WO Mark. Kelly.

UN Operation in the Congo - Opération des Nations Unies au Congo, (ONUC), 1960 to 1964

ONUC was a peacekeeping force  established by the UN to maintain order in the Republic of Congo on 14 July 1960 amid the Congo Crisis.  ONUC was the UN's first peacekeeping mission with significant military capabilities.  Approximately 300 Canadian Forces personnel at a time served with ONUC, totaling 1,910 Canadians to the end of the mission on 30 July 1964.  

Following Security Council actions, the United Nations Organisation in the Congo was established.  To carry out these tasks, the Secretary-General set up a United Nations Force, at its peak strength numbering nearly 20,000.  The UN Force stayed in the Congo between 1960 and 1964, and underwent a transition from a peacekeeping presence to a military force.

ONUC's main goals stayed consistent from the first to fifth resolution.  It aimed to both have Belgian military personnel (later expanding to mercenaries) withdrawn and to provide military assistance to ensure internal stability.  The successive Security Council resolutions added to and elaborated on the initial mandate but did not fundamentally change the operation's objectives.  These were especially significant because Belgium's invasion violated the norm of sovereignty, and the second objective was set to prevent the country from becoming a Cold War client state.  The first troops reached Congo on 15 July 1960, many airlifted by the USAF as part of Operation NEW TAPE.

Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba, dissatisfied with Dag Hammarskjöld's refusal to use UN troops to subdue the insurrection in Katanga, decided to attempt an invasion of Katanga on his own and turned to the Soviet Union for help.  The invasion attempt never reached Katanga but led to dissension within the Central Government, the collapse of the Central Government, and eventually to Lumumba's arrest in December.  Lumumba was then executed in Katanga in January 1961.  Only then did the UN Security Council explicitly authorize the use of force for purposes beyond self-defence.

Canada’s participation in the Congo began on 18 July 1960 when RCAF North Star aircraft left Trenton to deliver food.  Planning for the army contingent began at about the same time, but the formal UN request for a signals unit, food services personnel, and a provost section did not arrive until later in the month, and it was only on 9 August that the entire contingent was approved by the Minister of National Defence.  They would move to the Congo as part of Operation MALLARD beginning that same day, with the entire group scheduled to be in theatre by 29 August.

As often happened, however, the first Canadians in the Congo were borrowed from other UN missions.  Eight army officers came from UNTSO and UNEF, while eleven RCAF officers who arrived early were employed at ONUC headquarters.  One, Air Commodore F. Carpenter, was the air advisor to Swedish Major General von Horn, the ONUC commander.

The first signalers of what would become 57 Canadian Signals Unit arrived on 12 August.  The main body arrived over the next two months, bringing the total to 275 – a significant drain on the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals. Of these, 215 were located at ONUC Headquarters in Leopoldville. The rest manned signals detachments in Albertville, Bukavu, Coquihatville, Elizabethville, Goma, Kamina, Kindu, Kongola, Luluabourg, Matadi, and Stanleyville.  Far-flung and isolated, they depended on other UN contingents for their security.  The RCAF, meanwhile, would conduct twice-weekly supply flights from Pisa, Italy to Leopoldville as well as twice-monthly support and personnel rotation flights for the Canadian Army.  Paid for by Canada, the former were suspended in 1962 due to budget cuts.  In theatre, the permanent air force contribution to ONUC settled down to seven officers and eight airmen at headquarters, with another eight airmen supporting the Canadian airlift.  It would grow in September 1961 when the UN asked Canada for two C-119 Boxcars and a dozen air control technicians to assist with UN fighter operations against the Katangan rebels.  That added seventy-three officers and men to the contingent for a few weeks.  Wherever Canadians served, given the Congo’s colonial past, French-speaking officers were at a premium, and by 1962 sixteen francophones held key positions in the UN hierarchy.

ONUC Medal.

(National Defence Image Library Photo)

Canadian soldiers arriving in the Congo via Canadair CC-106 Yukon.

The threat of violence was everywhere.  As early as 18 August 1960 four of the first Canadians to arrive had been manhandled by ANC troops and had to be rescued by Ghanains.  A similar incident occurred five weeks later in Stanleyville.  Then, in February 1961 two Canadian officers were beaten, kicked and robbed and their weapons taken.  That led to a change in the mission’s Rules of Engagement on 2 March: henceforth, Canadians were authorized to shoot to defend themselves.  Several days later the signals detachment at Matadi was attacked by ANC troops.  After fierce fighting that lasted several hours, the Canadians surrendered, while the Sudanese troops protecting them fled.  Fortunately, the Canadians were released the next day.  In total, four Canadians received commendations for bravery.

Although the UN started to reduce its commitment to ONUC in 1963, the Canadian contingent did not reduce commensurately in size.  By September 1963 about 8,000 UN personnel remained in the Congo, down from over 20,000 in June 1961, but since they were responsible for communications throughout the mission the UN asked that the Canadian signalers remain until the end.  Accordingly, the last rotation of Canadian personnel occurred on 22 March 1964.  RCAF flights on 27 May, 17, 27 and 30 June repatriated the last remaining Canadians.

In all, about 1800 Army and 110 RCAF personnel served in the Congo, with an average of about three hundred in the country at any one time.


Berlin Crisis, 1961

(US Army Photo)

The Berlin Crisis of 1961 occurred between 4 June – 9 November 1961, and was the last major politic-military European incident of the Cold War about the occupational status of the German capital city, Berlin, and of post-Second World War Germany.  The Berlin Crisis started when the USSR launched an ultimatum demanding the withdrawal of all armed forces from Berlin, including the Western armed forces in West Berlin.  The crisis culminated in the city's de facto partition with the East German erection of the Berlin Wall.  Soviet and American tanks are shown here facing each other at Checkpoint Charlie during the crisis in Oct 1961.

I was serving at Canadian Forces Base Lahr, Germany on my first tour of duty as a Canadian Army Intelligence Officer with Headquarters, Canadian Forces Europe (HQ CFE) while the wall was still standing, from 1981 to 1983.

During my first tour of duty in Lahr, I had the opportunity to visit West Berlin with the American contingent, visiting the city for three days after flying in from Frankfurt on Pan-American airways.  After a thorough briefing I visited Check Point Charlie, several places along the wall, the Reichstag, the Olympic Stadium, the Brandenburg Gate, Charlottenburg Palace, the Memorial Column, the Kurfurstendam with the bombed out church, the Freedom bridge, Tempelhof Airport, the Berlin airlift memorial with a Douglas C-54 Skymaster transport aircraft on display, and the Berlin wall on both sides of the road during a visit to a small village on the edge of the city.  I toured the escape museum, went to various observation points at the wall, and the Soviet War Memorial with T-34 tanks.  This is where I had my first look at Soviet soldiers on duty (guarding the memorial).  The trip was well worth the visit, and an enormous contrast to what I encountered when our family visited Berlin again many years later after the wall came down.

West New Guinea, 1962

The United Nations Temporary Executive Authority (UNTEA) / United Nations Security Force in West New Guinea (UNSF) was established during October 1962 in accord with UN General Assembly resolution 1752 as requested in Article two of the New York Agreement to administer the former Netherlands New Guinea.  The UNTEA mission was to augment the existing police forces in maintaining law and order in West New Guinea.  (Resolutions 1752 (XVII), 2504 (XXIV)).  The UNTEA administration ended on 1 May 1963.  Canada provided two aircraft, one observer.

Western New Guinea became the focus of a political dispute between the Netherlands and Indonesia following the recognition of the independence of the latter.  The Indonesian side claimed the territory as its own while the Dutch side maintained that its residents were not Indonesian and that the Netherlands would continue to administer the territory until it was capable of self-determination.

In May 1959 a United States diplomat proposed a scheme for using a "a special United Nations trusteeship over the territory for a limited number of years, at the end of which time sovereignty would be turned over to Indonesia"; and in March 1961 the US Embassy in Jakarta asserted "the Indos once contended that UN trusteeship would be anathema under any circumstances. Now, although they have not gone so far as to be willing to call a trusteeship a trusteeship, they talk in terms of "one or two years" of some kind of interregnum as being acceptable."

Indonesia began landing paratroops onto the territory of Western New Guinea in December 1961 which prompted a political crisis between the Netherlands and Indonesia. The United States mediated in the dispute and this led to the signing of the New York Agreement in September 1962.  

The transfer of authority took place on 1 May 1963 and West New Guinea became a province of Indonesia known as Irian Barat, later renamed Irian Jaya.  This was the first time in its history that the United Nations assumed direct administrative responsibility for a territory.  The United Nations would go on to undertake similar missions in Cambodia (UNTAC), Croatia (UNTAES), Kosovo (UNMIK) and East Timor (UNTAET).  

The Royal Canadian Air Force was requested to provide amphibious Otters.  Canadian planning for a role in West New Guinea began on 16 August 1963 when Canada was requested to send an air advisor to the UNSF Commander and a float-equipped Otter with flying and ground crew.  RCAF headquarters suggested that two Otters and an air advisor would be necessary.  The request went before Cabinet on 29 August and the request was approved.

UNTEA Medal.

(UN Photo)

RCAF de Havilland CC-123 Otter, UNSF.

On 30 August, two CC-130 Hercules aircraft left RCAF Station Trenton, westward bound for West New Guinea. Inside were two disassembled Otters, spare parts and 11 members of what was to become No. 116 Air Transport Unit (ATU).  The Hercules were so crowded that some members of No. 116 ATU rode inside the Otters.  They, and the air advisor, arrived in West New Guinea on 3 September.  W/C Herbert remained stationed at UNSF headquarters in Hollandia, 275 miles to the east of the remaining Canadians, arranging and coordinating the daily airlift requirements.

Once UNTEA assumed responsibility for West New Guinea, No. 116 ATU began operations on 12 September, under Command of the local contingent.  Most trips involved carrying passengers, mail and fresh food to the Pakistani garrisons throughout the territory.  These were supplemented by flights carrying UN personnel on inspections.

In the seven months that No. 116 ATU operated under UNSF and UNTEA, its 11 members supported and flew 675 hours under some of the most trying conditions in the world.  This was accomplished without a single accident.  W/C Herbert, as Air Advisor, coordinated all air movements and the re-supply of 1,500 Pakistani soldiers and various UN officials.  The transfer of power from UNTEA to Indonesia did not resolve the West New Guinea problem, and the rights of its people to self- determination – this only occurred in 1969.


The Six-Day War, 5-10 June 1967.

(Government Press Office -Israel Photo)

Israeli tanks advancing on the Golan Heights, 10 June 1967, engaged in fighting during the Six-Day War, fought 5-10 June 1967, by Israel and its neighboring states of Egypt (known at the time as the United Arab Republic, Jordan and Syria.  

Relations between Israel and its neighbours were not normalised after the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.  In 1956 Israel invaded the Sinai peninsula in Egypt, with one of its objectives being the reopening of the Straits of Tiran that Egypt had blocked to Israeli shipping since 1950.  Israel was eventually forced to withdraw, but was guaranteed that the Straits of Tiran would remain open. A UN Emergency Force was deployed along the border, but there was no de-militarisation agreement.

In the months prior to June 1967, tensions increased to a dangerous level.  Israel reiterated its post-1956 position that the closure of the Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping would be a cause for war (a casus belli).  In May Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser announced that the straits would be closed to Israeli vessels and then mobilized its Egyptian forces along its border with Israel, in addition to forcing out the UNEF.  On 5 June, Israel launched a series of pre-emptive airstrikes against Egyptian airfields, asserting imminent attack from the Egyptians.  The question of which side caused the war is controversial.

The Egyptian forces consisted of seven divisions: four armoured, two infantry, and one mechanized infantry.  Overall, Egypt had around 100,000 troops and 900–950 tanks in the Sinai, backed by 1,100 APCs and 1,000 artillery pieces.  This arrangement was thought to be based on the Soviet doctrine, where mobile armour units at strategic depth provide a dynamic defense while infantry units engage in defensive battles.

Israeli forces concentrated on the border with Egypt included six armoured brigades, one infantry brigade, one mechanized infantry brigade, and three airborne brigades, giving a total of around 70,000 men and 700 tanks, who were organized in three armoured divisions.  They had massed on the border the night before the war, camouflaging themselves and observing radio silence before being ordered to advance.

The Israeli plan was to surprise the Egyptian forces in both timing (the attack exactly coinciding with the IAF strike on Egyptian airfields), location (attacking via northern and central Sinai routes, as opposed to the Egyptian expectations of a repeat of the 1956 war, when the IDF attacked via the central and southern routes) and method (using a combined-force flanking approach, rather than direct tank assaults).

(IDF Photo)

Israeli airforce Dassault Mirage III fighters fly over the Sinai peninsula at the Israeli-Egyptian border on the first day of the Six-Day Arab-Israeli war on 5 June 1967.  Among the Egyptian planes lost were all 30 Tu-16 bombers, 27 out of 40 Il-28 bombers, 12 Su-7 fighter-bombers, over 90 MiG-21s, 20 Mig-19s, 25 MiG-17 fighters, and around 32 assorted transport planes and helicopters.  In addition, Egyptian radars and SAM missiles were also attacked and destroyed.  The Israelis lost 19 aircraft, including two destroyed in air-to-air combat and 13 downed by anti-aircraft artillery.

(IDF Photo, Wikimedia)

During this brief war, the Israeli Air Force (IAF) fought with 250 combat aircraft against the Arab's 600 combat aircraft.  The IAF destroyed 452 enemy aircraft, including 79 in air combat, while losing 46 of its own.  Kfir fighters destroyed tanks and aircraft, including the Egyptian jets shown above.

The Egyptians were caught by surprise, and nearly the entire Egyptian air force was destroyed with few Israeli losses, giving the Israelis air supremacy.  The attack guaranteed Israeli ir supremacy for the rest of the war.  Attacks on other Arab air forces by Israel took place later in the day as hostilities broke out on other fronts.  Simultaneously, the Israelis launched a ground offensive into the Gaza Strip and the Sinai, which again caught the Egyptians by surprise.  With what was left of the Egyptian Air Force, throughout the last four days, Egyptian aircraft flew 150 sorties against Israeli units in the Sinai.  After some initial resistance, Nasser ordered the evacuation of the Sinai.  Israeli forces rushed westward in pursuit of the Egyptians, inflicting heavy losses, and conquering the Sinai.

Jordan had entered into a defence pact with Egypt a week before the war began; the agreement envisaged that in the event of war Jordan would not take an offensive role but would attempt to tie down Israeli forces to prevent them making territorial gains.  About an hour after the Israeli air attack, the Egyptian commander of the Jordanian army was ordered by Cairo to begin attacks on Israel; in the initially confused situation, the Jordanians were told that Egypt had repelled the Israeli air strikes.

At 11:15 am on 5 June, Jordanian howitzers began a 6,000-shell barrage at Israeli Jerusalem.  Israeli civilian casualties totalled 20 dead and about 1,000 wounded.  Some 900 buildings were damaged.  At 11:50 am, sixteen Jordanian Hawker Hunters attacked Israeli settlements, killing one civilian, wounding seven and destroying a transport plane.  Three Iraqi Hawker Hunters strafed civilian settlements in the Jezreel Valley, and an Iraqi Tu-16 attacked Afula, and was shot down near the Megiddo airfield.  The attack caused minimal material damage, hitting only a senior citizens' home and several chicken coops, but sixteen Israeli soldiers were killed, most of them when the Tupolev crashed.

Shortly before 12:30 pm, the Israeli Air Force attacked Jordan's two airbases.  The Jordanian Air Force Hawker Hunters were refueling at the time of the attack.  The Israeli aircraft attacked in two waves, the first of which cratered the runways and knocked out the control towers, and the second wave destroyed all 21 of Jordan's Hawker Hunter fighters, along with six transport aircraft and two helicopters.  One Israeli jet was shot down by ground fire.

Israeli aircraft also attacked H-3, an Iraqi Air Force base in western Iraq.  During the attack, 12 MiG-21s, 2 MiG-17s, 5 Hunter F6s, and 3 Il-28 bomber s were destroyed or shot down.  A Pakistani pilot stationed at the base shot down an Israeli fighter and a bomber during the raid. The Jordanian radar facility at Ajloun was destroyed in an Israeli airstrike.  Israeli Fouga Magister jets attacked the Jordanian 40th Brigade with rockets as it moved south from the Damiya Bridge.  Dozens of tanks were knocked out, and a convoy of 26 trucks carrying ammunition was destroyed.  In Jerusalem, Israel responded to Jordanian shelling with a missile strike that devastated Jordanian positions.  The Israelis used the L missile, a surface-to-surface missile developed jointly with France in secret.

(David Rubinger Photo, Knesset)

IDF paratroopers Zion Karasenti, Yitzhak Yifat, and Haim Oshri at Jerusalem's Western Wall shortly after its capture.

Israel was to gain almost total control of the West Bank by the evening of 7 June, and began its military occupation of the West Bank on that day, issuing a military order, the "Proclamation Regarding Law and Administration (The West Bank Area) (No. 2)—1967", which established the military government in the West Bank and granted the commander of the area full legislative, executive, and judicial power.

The Jordanians fought fiercely, but the air superiority of the IAF proved paramount as it immobilized the Jordanians, leading to their defeat.  The Jordanians, anticipating an Israeli offensive deep into Jordan, assembled the remnants of their army and Iraqi units in Jordan to protect the western approaches to Amman and the southern slopes of the Golan Heights.  As Israel continued its offensive on 7 June, ignoring the UN ceasefire resolution, the Egyptian-Jordanian command ordered a full Jordanian withdrawal for the second time, in order to avoid an annihilation of the Jordanian army.  This was complete by nightfall on 7 June.

Syria largely stayed out of the conflict for the first four days, but then Syrian artillery began shelling northern Israel, and twelve Syrian jets attacked Israeli settlements in the Galilee.  Israeli fighter jets intercepted the Syrian aircraft, shooting down three and driving off the rest.  In addition, two Lebanese Hawker Hunter jets, two of the twelve Lebanon had, crossed into Israeli airspace and began strafing Israeli positions in the Galilee.  They were intercepted by Israeli fighter jets, and one was shot down.  On the evening of 5 June, the Israeli Air Force attacked Syrian airfields.  The Syrian Air Force lost some 32 MiG-21s, 23 MiG-15 and MiG-17 fighters, and two Ilyushin Il-28 bombers, two-thirds of its fighting strength.  The Syrian aircraft that survived the attack retreated to distant bases and played no further role in the war.  

The Syrians bombarded Israeli civilian settlements in the Galilee Panhandel with the firepower of two battalions of 130-mm M-46  guns, four companies of heavy mortars, and dug-in Panzer IV tanks.  On June 6, a minor Syrian force tried to capture the water plants at Tel Dan (the subject of a fierce escalation two years earlier), Dan, and Sh'ear Yashuv.  These attacks were repulsed with the loss of twenty soldiers and seven tanks.  An Israeli officer was also killed.  But a broader Syrian offensive quickly failed.  Syrian reserve units were broken up by Israeli air attacks, and several tanks were reported to have sunk in the Jordan River.

Terrible fighting took place in the battles for the Golan Heights.  By 10 June, Israel had completed its final offensive in the Golan Heights.  Egypt and Jordan agreed to a ceasefire on 8 June, and Syria agreed on 9 June; a ceasefire was signed with Israel on 11 June.  In the aftermath of the war, Israel had crippled the Egyptian, Syrian and Jordanian militaries, having killed over 20,000 troops while losing fewer than 1,000 of its own.  The Israeli success was the result of a well-prepared and enacted strategy, the poor leadership of the Arab states, and their poor military leadership and strategy.  Israel seized the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt, the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, from Jordan and the Golan Heights from Syria.  Israel's international standing greatly improved in the following years.  Its victory humiliated Egypt, Jordan and Syria, leading Nasser to resign in shame; he was later reinstated after protests in Egypt against his resignation.  The speed and ease of Israel's victory would later lead to a dangerous overconfidence within the ranks of the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF), contributing to initial Arab successes in the subsequent 1973 Yom Kippur War, although ultimately Israeli forces were successful and defeated the Arab militaries.  The displacement of civilian populations resulting from the war would have long-term consequences, as 300,000 Palestinians fled the West Bank and about 100,000 Syrians left the Golan Heights.  Across the Arab world, Jewish minority communities fled or were expelled, with refugees going mainly to Israel or Europe.

At the end of the six-day war, Israel had seized the Gaza Strip, the Sinai Peninsula, the West Bank of the Jordan River (including East Jerusalem), and the Golan Heights.  About one million Arabs were placed under Israel's direct control in the newly captured territories.  Israel's strategic depth grew to at least 300 kilometers in the south, 60 kilometers in the east, and 20 kilometers of extremely rugged terrain in the north, a security asset that would prove useful in the Yom Kippur War six years later.

General Moshe Dayan's final report on the war to the Israeli general staff listed several shortcomings in Israel's actions, including misinterpretation of Nasser's intentions, over dependence on the United States, and reluctance to act when Egypt closed the Straits.  He also credited several factors for Israel's success: Egypt did not appreciate the advantage of striking first and their adversaries did not accurately gauge Israel's strength and its willingness to use it.

In Egypt, Nasser admitted his responsibility for the military defeat.  His mistaken decisions to expel the international peacekeeping force from the Sinai Peninsula and close the Straits of Tiran in 1967 led to a state of war with Israel, despite Egypt's lack of military preparedness.  In a review of the causes of Egypt's loss of the 1967 war, issues that were identified included "the individualistic bureaucratic leadership"; "promotions on the basis of loyalty, not expertise, and the army's fear of telling Nasser the truth"; lack of intelligence; and better Israeli weapons, command, organization, and will to fight.

Between 776 and 983 Israelis were killed and 4,517 were wounded.  Fifteen Israeli soldiers were captured.  Arab casualties were far greater.  Between 9,800 and 15,000 Egyptian soldiers were listed as killed or missing in action.  An additional 4,338 Egyptian soldiers were captured.  Jordanian losses are estimated to be 700 killed in action with another 2,500 wounded.  The Syrians were estimated to have sustained between 1,000 and 2,500 killed in action.  Between 367 and 591 Syrians were captured.

The political importance of the 1967 War was immense.  Israel demonstrated again that it was able and willing to initiate strategic strikes that could change the regional balance.  Egypt and Syria learned tactical lessons and would launch an attack in 1973 in an attempt to reclaim their lost territory.

The aftermath of the war is also of religious significance.  Under Jordanian rule, Jews were expelled from Jerusalem and were effectively barred from visiting the Western Wall.  Jewish holy sites were not maintained, and Jewish cemeteries had been desecrated.  After the annexation to Israel, each religious group was granted administration over its holy sites.  For the first time since 1948, Jews could visit the Old City of Jerusalem and pray at the Western Wall, the holiest site where Jews are permitted to pray.  Despite the Temple Mount being the most important holy site in Jewish tradition, the al-Aqsa Mosque had been under sole administration of the Jordanians.  In Hebron, Jews gained access to the Cave of the Patriarchs – the second most holy site in Judaism, after the Temple Mount – for the first time since the 14th century (previously Jews were allowed to pray only at the entrance).Other Jewish holy sites, such as Rachel's Tomb in Bethlehem and Joseph's Tomb in Nablus, also became accessible.

Following the war, Egypt initiated clashes along the Suez Canal in what became known as the War of Attrition.

On 22 November 1967, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 242, in a "land for peace" formula, which called for Israeli withdrawal "from territories occupied" in 1967 and "the termination of all claims or states of belligerency".  Resolution 242 recognized the right of "every state in the area to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force."  Israel returned the Sinai to Egypt in 1978, after the Camp David Accords.  In the summer of 2005, Israel withdrew all military forces and evacuated all civilians from the Gaza Strip.  Its army frequently re-enters Gaza for military operations and still retains control of the seaports, airports and most of the border crossings.

There was extensive displacement of populations in the occupied territories: of about one million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, 300,000 either fled, or were displaced from their homes, to Jordan, where they continue to contribute to unrest.  The other 700,000 remained.  On the Golan Heights, an estimated 80,000 Syrians fled.  Israel allowed only the inhabitants of East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights to receive full Israeli citizenship, applying its law, administration and jurisdiction to these territories in 1967 and 1981, respectively.  The vast majority of the populations in both territories declined to take citizenship.

Badge of the unified Canadian Forces.  The current iteration of the Canadian Armed Forces dates from 1 February 1968, when the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN), Canadian Army, and Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) were merged into a unified structure and superseded by elemental commands, known as Air Command, Land Force, and Maritime Command.  On 16 August 2011, the names for the three elemental commands reverted to their historical predecessor, although the unified structure of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) is maintained.

Prague Spring, 1968

(CIA Photo)

The Prague Spring, 1968, was a period of political liberalization and mass protest in Czechoslovakia as a Communist state after the Second World War.  It began on 5 January 1968, when reformist Alexander Dub?ek was elected First Secretary of the Communist Party of Czechoslovkia (KS), and continued until 21 August 1968, when the USSR and other Warsaw pact members invaded the country to suppress the reforms.

As a result of this crisis, Canada resettled close to 12,000 refugees from Czechoslovakia between September 1968 and January 1969.  In the aftermath of the invasion, the federal cabinet considered whether the Canadian government could respond diplomatically by way of public protest without unnecessarily increasing tensions with the Soviet Union or failing to demonstrate support for its own Eastern European communities in Canada. As a member of the United Nations Security Council, the Canadian government ruled out any military intervention in Central Europe, but considered how best it could demonstrate its opposition to a breach of international law – more specifically state sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Immigration officials used the 1956 special program for Hungarian refugees as a precedent in establishing a similar program for Prague Spring refugees. Canadian immigration officials relaxed admissions criteria, including medical examinations and security screening, and offered assisted passage to help bring Czech and Slovak refugees to Canada.

(USMC Photo)

A South Vietnamese helicopter is pushed over the side of the USS Okinawa during Operation FREQUENT WIND, April 1975.  The helicopter, which carried two Vietnamese officers, a woman and two children, had to be disposed of to make room for the extensive Marine Corps helicopter operation helping to evacuate the city of Saigon.

Vietnam, 1955-1975. Helicopters pushed overboard.  Operation FREQUENT WIND was the final phase in the evacuation of American civilians and "at-risk" Vietnamese from Saigon, South Vietnam prior to the takeover of the city by the North Vietnamese People's Army (PAVN) in the Fall of Saigon.  It was carried out on 29–30 April 1975, during the last days of the Vietnam War.  More than 7,000 people were evacuated by helicopter from various points in Saigon.  The airlift resulted in a number of enduring images.

The Canadian government did not officially participate in the war.  However, it contributed to peacekeeping forces in 1973 to help enforce the Paris Peace Accords.  At least 30,000 Canadians volunteered to serve in the American armed forces during the war, and of them, at least 134 Canadians died or were reported missing in Vietnam.

During the First Indochina War (19 Dec 1946 to 20 July 1954) between France and the Indo-Chinese nationalist and communist parties, Canada remained militarily uninvolved but provided modest diplomatic and economic support to the French.  Canada was, however, part of the International Control Commission (ICC) (along with Poland and India) that oversaw the 1954 Geneva Agreements that divided Vietnam, provided for French withdrawal and would have instituted elections for reunification by 1956.  Behind the scenes, Canadian diplomats tried to discourage both France and the United States from escalating the conflict in a part of the world Canadians had decided was not strategically vital.

Canadian negotiators were secretly involved in exchanging messages between the U.S. and North Vietnam on behalf of the Americans, with the approval of the Canadian government.  Canada tried to mediate between the warring countries, aiming for a conclusion that could allow the U.S. to leave the conflict honorably.

International Commission for Supervision and Control Indo-China (ICSC) Medal, and ICCS Medal.

At the suggestion of the government of Communist China, the Geneva conference requested Canada's participation in an international commission to supervise the ceasefire and withdrawal of French and Viet Minh forces. The other members of the commission were India and Poland.  The first Canadian contingent of the International Commission for Supervision and Control (ICSC) arrived in Indochina on 11 August 1954.  Some 133 Canadian troops served with the commission. The ICSC was stationed in Cambodia until 1969 and officially withdrew from Viet Nam and Laos in 1974.

The ICSC was born from the Geneva Agreements of 1954 which ended the First Indochina War.  Personnel of ICSC member nations served in various locations throughout Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia investigating compliance and monitoring enforcement of the peace accords.  The commission's purpose was to supervise the cease-fire, the withdrawal of French troops, the repatriation of military and civilian prisoners, and facilitating the return of refugees to their homes. The commission was made up of personnel from Canada, Poland, and India.  The ICSC Cambodia monitored the Geneva Accords and helped the Khmer resistance forces disband and return home and the Viet Minh to leave the country.  Much of the work was done from 1954 to 1955 and Canada had only token representation after 1958.  The commission withdrew completely in 1969.  Sgt J.S. Byrne J.S. and Cpl V.J. Perkin died on ICSC operations.

Between 28 Jan and 31 July 1973, Canada provided 240 peacekeeping troops to Operation GALLANT, the peace keeping operation associated with the International Commission of Control and Supervision (ICCS) Vietnam, along with Hungary, Indonesia, and Poland.  Their role was to monitor the cease-fire in Vietnam per the Paris Peace Accords.  After Canada's departure from the Commission, it was replaced by Iran.  The work of the ICCS continued until the April 1975 fall of Saigon.

The Protocol to the Paris Agreement detailed the functions of the ICCS.  At Article 4 it named the locations of seven regional teams and twenty-six teams within those regions in Vietnam.  It also called for seven teams to be assigned to ports of entry (for replacement of armaments, munitions and war material permitted the two Vietnamese parties under Article 7 of the Agreement) and seven teams to supervise the return of captured and detained personnel.

In summary, the ICCS was to supervise the cease-fire, the withdrawal of troops, the dismantlement of military bases, the activity at ports of entry and the return of captured military personnel and foreign civilians.  It was to report on the implementation, or violation, of the Peace Agreement and Protocols.  As with the old ICSC, there were continuous disagreements between the communist and non-communist nations about the causes of treaty violations.  Canada attempted to counter this with an "open mouth policy" to the world's media.

(Inga kk Photo)

Bell UH-1H Iroquois flown for the ICCS.

For reasons of distance and for reasons of safety, in a time of conflict, the ICCS often traveled by air.  Requiring pilots experienced at flying over mountain and jungle, and men accustomed to the unpredictable military background of the region, the ICCS gave a contract to a locally well-established operation, Air America.  Initially under the command of Colonel J. A. Mitchell, of Canada, this organization gave a coat of white paint to its aircraft and panels indicating 'ICCS', to operate as: ICCS Air Services.  Captain Charles Laviolette (-1973), 12e Régiment blindé du Canada ICCS Canada, was the only Canadian fatality with the ICCS, though others were lost with the ICC.

During the period there were 18,000 alleged cease-fire violations, which resulted in over 76,000 killed, wounded and missing to both sides: on 29 May 1973 the Canadians announced that they were withdrawing from the ICCS because they had come to supervise a ceasefire but were instead observing a war.  

From 29 January to 26 June 1973, HMCS Kootenay and HMCS Terra Nova were deployed off the coast of Vietnam as part of the Canadian contribution to the ICCS following the end of the Vietnam War.

(DND Photo)

HMCS Kootenay (DDE258).

HMCS Terra Nova (DDE259).

Cyprus, 1964 to present day

(A. Savin Photo)

Kyrenia Castle on the north side of the island of Cyprus, was originally built by the Byzantines and enlarged by the Venetians.  It is often visited by Canadian troops serving with the UN on the island.

(DND Photo)

Canadians mounted on an M113 APC, serving with UNFICYP, Operation SNOWGOOSE, Cyprus, from 1964 to the present day.

The United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) is a UN peacekeeping force that was established under UN Security Council Resolution 186 in 1964 to prevent a recurrence of fighting following inter-communal violence between the Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, to contribute to the maintenance and restoration of law and order and to facilitate a return to normal conditions.

Following the 1974 Greek Cypriot coup d'état and the Turkish invasion of Cyprus, the UN Security Council extended and expanded the mission to prevent the dispute turning into war, and UNFICYP was redeployed to patrol the UN Buffer Zone in Cyprus and assist in the maintenance of the military status quo.  Since its establishment, the force has also worked in concert with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and representatives of the two communities to seek an amicable diplomatic solution to the Cyprus dispute.

Initially, UNFICYP consisted of military and civilian contingents drawn from Australia, Austria, Denmark, Finland, Canada, Sweden, Ireland, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom.  However, over its long history the force has been the subject of various UNSC resolutions and reorganisations, and currently comprises contingents from Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Canada, Croatia, El Salvador, Ghana, Hungary, India, Ireland, Italy, Montenegro, the Netherlands, Peru, Serbia, Slovakia, Ukraine and the United Kingdom.  In recent years the mission has had an average strength of 1,009 personnel.

Canada in UNFICYP.  From 15 March 1964 to 15 June 1993, Canada maintained a battalion-sized contingent of peace-support troops in UNFICYP.  During this period, the Canadian contingent went through 59 rotations and some 25,000 CAF personnel completed six-month tours on the island.  With Denmark, Ireland and Finland, Canada was one of the four original contributors of troops to UNFICYP, committed by the government of Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson on 12 March 1964.  The lead elements of the initial rotation of the Canadian contingent arrived on 15 March 1964, followed by a brigade headquarters, the 1st Battalion, Royal 22e Régiment, and a Reconnaissance Squadron from The Royal Canadian Dragoons mounted in Ferret scout cars that were transported to Cyprus by the RCN aircraft carrier HMCS Bonaventure.  By 1993, when Canada withdrew its combat arms contingent from UNFICYP, every infantry battalion of the Regular Force had deployed to Cyprus at least once, and Regular Force artillery and armoured regiments had reorganized for infantry duties to take their turns.  The current contribution are small numbers of staff officers on one-year rotations.

(Canadian Airborne Regiment Photo)

Santa visits the Ledra palace compound in Cyprus riding a Canadian Iltis, during my tour of duty on the island, Dec 1986.

The operation name “Snowgoose” dates from July 1974, when the Canadian contingent in UNFICYP, originally made up of 1 Commando, Canadian Airborne Regiment, and the Airborne Field Squadron (the combat engineer element of the Canadian Airborne Regiment), was rapidly augmented by 2 Commando and 3 Commando in response to the Turkish invasion of Cyprus that began on 20 July 1974.

Cyprus has had a long history of civilization since prehistoric times.  In 1571 the mostly Greek-populated island of Cyprus was conquered by the Ottoman Empire, following the Ottoman-Venetian War (1570-1573).  After 300 years of Ottoman rule the island and its population was leased to Britain by the Cyprus Convention, an agreement reached during the Congress of Berlin in 1878 between the UK and the Ottoman Empire.  Britain formally annexed Cyprus (together with Egypt and Sudan) on 5 November 1914, as a reaction to the Ottoman Empire's decision to join the First World War on the side of the Central Powers; subsequently the island became a British Crown colony, known as British Cyprus.  Article 20 of the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923 marked the end of the Turkish claim to the island.  Article 21 of the treaty gave Turkish nationals ordinarily resident in Cyprus the choice of leaving the island within 2 years or to remain as British subjects.  At this time the population of Cyprus was composed of both Greeks and Turks, who identified themselves with their respective homeland.  However, the elites of both communities shared the belief that they were socially more progressive (better educated and less conservative) and therefore distinct from the mainlanders.  Greek and Turkish Cypriots lived quietly side by side for many years.

In the early 1950s, a Greek nationalist group was formed called the Ethniki Organosis Kyprion Agoniston (EOKA) -"National Organisation of Cypriot Fighters").  Their objective was to drive the British out of the island first, and then to integrate the island with Greece.  EOKA wished to remove all obstacles from their path to independence, or union with Greece.  British rule lasted until 1960 when the island was declared an independent state under the London-Zurich agreements. The agreement created a foundation for the Republic of Cyprus by the Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot communities, although the republic was seen as a necessary compromise between the two reluctant communities.

(Bundesarchiv, B 145 Bild-F012976-0007)

In December 1963 the President of the Republic, Archbishop Makarios III proposed 13 constitutional amendments to the Cypriot Constitution after the government was blocked by Turkish Cypriot legislators.  Frustrated by these impasses and believing that the constitution prevented enosis, the Greek Cypriot leadership believed that the rights given to Turkish Cypriots under the 1960 constitution were too extensive and had designed the Akritas plan, which was aimed at reforming the constitution in favour of Greek Cypriots, persuading the international community about the correctness of the changes and violently subjugating Turkish Cypriots in a few days should they not accept the plan.  The amendments would have involved the Turkish community giving up many of their protections as a minority, including adjusting ethnic quotas in the government and revoking the presidential and vice presidential veto power.  These amendments were rejected by the Turkish side and the Turkish representation left the government, although there is some dispute over whether they left in protest or whether they were forced out by the National Guard.  The 1960 constitution fell apart and communal violence erupted on 21 December 1963, when two Turkish Cypriots were killed at an incident involving the Greek Cypriot police.  Turkey, the UK and Greece, the guarantors of the Zürich and London Agreements which had led to Cyprus' independence, wanted to send a NATO force to the island under the command of General Peter Young.

Both President Makarios and Dr. Küçük issued calls for peace, but these were ignored.  Meanwhile, within a week of the violence flaring up, a Turkish army contingent on the island  had moved out of its barracks and seized the most strategic position on the island across the Nicosia to Kyrenia road, the historic jugular vein of the island.  They retained control of that road until 1974, at which time it acted as a crucial link in Turkey's military invasion.  From 1963 up to the point of the Turkish invasion of 20 July 1974, Greek Cypriots who wanted to use the road could only do so if accompanied by a UN convoy.

700 Turkish residents of northern Nicosia, among them women and children, were taken hostage.  The violence resulted in the death of 364 Turkish and 174 Greek Cypriots, destruction of 109 Turkish Cypriot or mixed villages and displacement of 25,000–30,000 Turkish Cypriots.

Thereafter Turkey once again put forward the idea of partition.  The intensified fighting especially around areas under the control of Turkish Cypriot militias, as well as the failure of the constitution were used as justification for a possible Turkish invasion.  Turkey was on the brink of invading when US President Lyndon Johnson stated, in a letter of 5 June 1964, that the US was against a possible invasion and stated that he would not come to the aid of Turkey if an invasion of Cyprus led to conflict with the Soviet Union.  One month later, within the framework of a plan prepared by the US Secretary of State, Dean Rusk, negotiations with Greece and Turkey began.

The crisis resulted in the end of the Turkish Cypriot involvement in the administration and their claiming that it had lost its legitimacy; the nature of this event is still controversial.  In some areas, Greek Cypriots prevented Turkish Cypriots from travelling and entering government buildings, while some Turkish Cypriots willingly refused to withdraw due to the calls of the Turkish Cypriot administration.  They started living in enclaves in different areas that were blockaded by the National Guard and were directly supported by Turkey.  The republic's structure was changed unilaterally by Makarios and Nicosia was divided by the Green Line, with the deployment of UNFICYP troops.  In response to this, their movement and access to basic supplies became more restricted by Greek forces.

Fighting broke out again in 1967, as the Turkish Cypriots pushed for more freedom of movement.  Once again, the situation was not settled until Turkey threatened to invade on the basis that it would be protecting the Turkish population from ethnic cleansing by Greek Cypriot forces.  To avoid that, a compromise was reached for Greece to be forced to remove some of its troops from the island; for Georgios Grivas, EOKA leader, to be forced to leave Cyprus and for the Cypriot government to lift some restrictions of movement and access to supplies of the Turkish populations.

In the spring of 1974, Greek Cypriot intelligence discovered that EOKA-B was planning a coup against President Makarios which was sponsored by the military junta of Athens.  The junta had come to power in a military coup in Athens in 1967.

On 2 July 1974, Makarios wrote an open letter to President Gizikis of Greece, complaining bluntly that 'cadres of the Greek military regime support and direct the activities of the 'EOKA-B' terrorist organisation'.  He also ordered that Greece remove some 600 Greek officers in the Cypriot National Guard from Cyprus.  The Greek Government's immediate reply was to order the go-ahead of the coup.  On 15 July 1974 sections of the Cypriot National Guard, led by its Greek officers, overthrew the government.  Makarios narrowly escaped death in the attack.  He fled the presidential palace from its back door and went to Paphos, where the British managed to retrieve him by Westland Whirlwind helicopter in the afternoon of 16 July and flew him from Akrotiri to Malta in an RAF Armstrong Whitworth Argosy transport aircraft and from there to London by de Havilland Comet the next morning.

While Makarios was making his escape, Nikos Sampson was declared provisional president of the new government.  Sampson was an ultra-nationalist, pro-Enosis combatant who was known to be fanatically anti-Turkish and had taken part in violence against Turkish civilians in earlier conflicts.  The Sampson regime took over radio stations and declared that Makarios had been killed, but Makarios, safe in London, was soon able to counteract these reports.  In the coup itself, 91 people were killed.  The Turkish-Cypriots were not affected by the coup against Makarios; one of the reasons was that Ioannides did not want to provoke a Turkish reaction.

US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger sent Joseph Sisco to try to mediate the conflict.  Turkey issued a list of demands to Greece via a US negotiator.  These demands included the immediate removal of Nikos Sampson, the withdrawal of 650 Greek officers from the Cypriot National Guard, the admission of Turkish troops to protect their population, equal rights for both populations, and access to the sea from the northern coast for Turkish Cypriots.  Turkey, led by Prime Minister Bülent Ecevit, then appealed to the UK as a signatory of the Treaty of Guarantee to take action to return Cyprus to its neutral status.  The UK declined this offer, and refused to let Turkey use its bases on Cyprus as part of the operation.

Turkey invaded Cyprus on Saturday, 20 July 1974.  Heavily armed troops landed shortly before dawn at Kyrenia (Girne) on the northern coast meeting resistance from Greek and Greek Cypriot forces.  Ankara said that it was invoking its right under the Treaty of Guarantee to protect the Turkish Cypriots and guarantee the independence of Cyprus.  By the time the UN Security Council was able to obtain a ceasefire on 22 July the Turkish forces were in command of a narrow path between Kyrenia and Nicosia, 3% of the territory of Cyprus, which they succeeded in widening, violating the ceasefire demanded in Resolution 353.

On 20 July, the 10,000 inhabitants of the Turkish Cypriot enclave of  Limassol surrendered to the Cypriot National Guard.  Following this, according to Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot eyewitness accounts, the Turkish Cypriot quarter was burned, women raped and children shot.  1,300 Turkish Cypriots were confined in a prison camp afterwards.  The enclave in Famagusta was subjected to shelling and the Turkish Cypriot town of Lefka was occupied by Greek Cypriot troops.

(TomasNY Photo)

Varosha (Maras), a suburb of Famagusta, was abandoned when its inhabitants fled in 1974 and remains under Turkish military control.

According to the International Committee of the Red Cross, the prisoners of war taken at this stage and before the second invasion included 385 Greek Cypriots in Adana, 63 Greek Cypriots in the Saray Prison and 3,268 Turkish Cypriots in various camps in Cyprus.

On 14 August Turkey launched its "Second Peace Operation", which eventually resulted in the Turkish occupation of 37% of Cyprus.  Turkish occupation reached as far south as the Louroujina Salient.  In the process, many Greek Cypriots became refugees.  The number of refugees is estimated to be between 140,000 and 160,000.  The ceasefire line from 1974 separates the two communities on the island, and is commonly referred to as the Green Line.

After the conflict, Cypriot representatives and the United Nations consented to the transfer of the remainder of the 51,000 Turkish Cypriots that had not left their homes in the south to settle in the north, if they wished to do so.

The UN Security Council challenged the legality of Turkey's action, because Article Four of the Treaty of Guarantee gives the right to guarantors to take action with the sole aim of re-establishing the state of affairs.  The aftermath of Turkey's invasion, however, did not safeguard the Republic's sovereignty and territorial integrity, but had the opposite effect: the de facto partition of the Republic and the creation of a separate political entity in the north.  On 13 February 1975, Turkey declared the occupied areas of the Republic of Cyprus to be a "Federated Turkish State".  The United Nations recognises the sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus according to the terms of its independence in 1960.  The conflict continues to affect Turkey's relations with Cyprus, Greece, and the European Union.

1986-1987, UN Duty in Cyprus with the Canadian Airborne Regiment

I had been working as an Intelligence Analyst in DDI-6 covering the Russian Far Eastern Military Districts when I was promoted to Captain on 1 Jan 1986.  Having a set of jump wings may have been a factor in the posting to the Canadian Airborne Regiment (CAR) at CFB Petawawa, Ontario, as the unit's Regimental Intelligence Officer on 16 June 1986.  The CAR was part of the Special Service Force (SSF), and the Regiment’s Intelligence Section came under the unit’s HQ and Signals Squadron.  I had the privilege of serving with the CAR until July 1989.

Shortly after my arrival in Petawawa, I was handed a message which read, in part, “you are hereby warned for United Nations Duty, OP SNOWGOOSE, Cyprus, etc.”  The notice was short, as the author was flown out of Ottawa to Germany within a few weeks, and he arrived in Larnaca, Cyprus on 19 Aug 1986 after a six-hour Lockheed CC-130 Hercules flight from Lahr, Germany.  I replaced the RCR Int O who had to return to Canada early, and thus found myself serving under Col James Cox.  I remained in theatre when the RCR was rotated out and replaced by the Canadian Airborne Regiment under the command of Col J.J.M.R. Gaudreau.  

Nicosia was a one-hour drive north of Larnaca, and since it was August, I found the ancient city to be hot, congested and very interesting, much like Athens.  I was billeted in the Ledra Palace, a partially damaged hotel located in the centre of the green line downtown and between the Turkish and Greek belligerent factions.  The tour stated off with an abrupt “stand-to” as there was a flare-up over movement of flags and markers at a site called “Beaver Lodge.”  One side moved markers forward, the Canadians moved them back, guns were pointed and people became agitated.  The situation was resolved after some tense interaction between RCR officers and their counterparts to the north.

The UN was intensely adverse to the use of anything having to do with military intelligence.  Therefore, I was the Ops B Information Officer (Ops B IO), Canadian Airborne Regiment, Nicosia, Cyprus (CCUNFICYP).  During my handover with the members of the RCR Ops B Information Section, I visited the “Blue Beret Camp” (BBC), and was shown the ground from West to East  on the island in the buffer zone between the Greeks and the Turks.  The enormous waste and destruction of buildings and property in the zone had changed little since the war following the Turkish invasion of the northern part of the island in response to Greek declarations in 1974.   Captain Tim Larson, who had been the Airborne IO before handing over to the me, was also serving in Cyprus, but on the one-year accompanied tour and based at Blue Beret Camp.

I took part in routine morning briefings to the CO and his staff, and participated in meetings with other UN Ops B Information representatives.  In August I was taken across the Turkish line in an Iltis by WO Gilmore, the RCR Int WO, to attend a UN Ops B Info Conference in the Austrian Contingent’s Camp based near Famagusta, a large old Venetian walled city and fortress sited on the East coast of the Island.  WO Gilmore then took the author South through the Sovereign Base Area (SBA) that belongs to the UK, and on down to Larnaca along the coast, passing through several Greek, UN, and Turkish checkpoints.  The Swedish guards at these checkpoints put on a spectacular salute twirling their rifles high in the air as they drove back to Nicosia for the 5 PM briefing.

During the Turk-Canadian confrontation, later referred to as the “Beaver Lodge“ incident which took place on 22 Aug 1986, I was flown on a reconnaissance flight over Sector 4, Nicosia in a British  Aérospatiale Alouette helicopter to get an overhead view of the situation.  The RCR CO expected an interesting and perhaps difficult day, with a crisis on the line over a change to the status quo boundaries.  The situation calmed down after a great deal of discussion.  The following day, the Ops B team went on a patrol in an Iltis with a Recce team to Kyrenia via the NW route through the mountains.  Several Turk sentries waved, some saluted, but one pointed his rifle at us, which was interesting.  In the evening the unit held a dining-in at the mess with General Douglas Yuill, who was at that time Canada’s Military representative in Damascus, Syria, and an active CISA member.

In spite of a great deal of negotiation and talk, the confrontation on the Green Line in the Canadian Sector continued to fester, forcing the RCR’s Col James Cox to put the Turks on the defensive again after they decided to push their luck on 28 Aug.  Armed Canadian soldiers reoccupied the Beaver Lodge site, and shortly afterwards, the Turkish Commander agreed to remove the Turkish flags from the Canadian position.  Shortly afterwards, the vanguard of the CAR began to arrive in theatre.  Tension was still high on the Greek side of the line, and following a conference at BBC on 4 Sep, WO Dean J. Dunlop and I drove over to observe a Greek Union rally at the PEO building in downtown Nicosia, then back to the Joint Operations Centre.  MCpl Chuck J. Spillane and MCpl Rick G. Oliver, and I also participated in a recce West to the Astromeritis Gate, up to Morphou and then West to DANCON HQ and Liminitis.

In September, the British Contingent sent a representative from the “Red Devils” to coordinate a number of UN jumpers for the British Medals parade.  The author represented Canada.  When the other countries declined to participate, it was determined that all jumpers would become “Red Devils” and thus the author donned their uniform & parachute equipment, very much reminding him of his “Sky Hawk” days.  The team made five practice jumps from an Westland HC-5 Wessex helicopter at BBC, but also had one emergency landing with the helicopter.  There is something unsettling about being in a hovering helicopter and seeing smoke emanating from the instrument panel, but the machine was duly landed intact and the problem was “fixed.”  Shortly after the repair, the group went back into the air for the show, where the author had the honour of jumping into the parade flying the Canadian flag.

Also in September, the CAR Acorns took part in an Ops/Info conference in Sector 2 HQ at the UK Contingent’s St David’s Camp, with representatives attending from the Swedish, Danish, Austrian, British, Australian and Canadian contingents.  In October, the conference took place at DANCON HQ’s “Viking Camp,” located at the West end of the island’s buffer zone.  The Danes took their visitors out to Kokkina, on the other side of a Turkish held enclave separated from the North, in a Greek area.  The UN Commander, Canada’s BGen MacInnes, flew in via Alouette helicopter to brief the group on points of concern.  Capt Tim A. Larson, WO Dean J. Dunlop, WO Mike E. Higgins and I represented the Canadian Contingent.  In December, Ops/Info conference was held at BBC.  Afterwards the group visited FINCON with the Finnlanders and Austrians, and were invited to enjoy their sauna.  While we were enjoying the sauna, members from the Swedish contingent swiped everyone’s clothing, then had their UN police order us out of the hut by loudhailer for not having our identification cards.  There were a few unhappy campers over the incident.

On 6 Dec 86, BGen Ford from the UK Int Corps visited the CAR for a line tour.  Unfortunately, this day the Regiment lost a soldier when MCpl Mark MacRae was killed in a climbing accident while touring St Hilarion castle.  The evening was a sombre one for the contingent, as every soldier is well known to each other.  The Regimental Chaplain, Capt Reg Gilbert, spoke to everyone in the HQ and Signals Sqn about the accident.  

Early in January the author took part in another Alouette helicopter recce flight over the Sector 4 area of the Buffer Zone, with Capt Randy Kemp and Capt Mike Beaudette to check on Turk construction activity.  WO Dean J. Dunlop and I participated in an Ops B Conference at Camp Duke Leopold V, AUSCON, near Famagusta, and then later in January visited DANCON and Camp Xeros for another conference.  On 19 Jan 87, BGen Douglas Yuill, the CFA in Lebanon, gave the Canadians a brief on events across the water from Cyprus.

Although the end of the tour seemed to take its time in coming, the author turned in his 9 mm pistol at BBC on 24 Feb 87.  Shortly afterwards, he and his chalk cleared customs and boarded a bus for the trip to Larnaca and marched straight onto the B-707.  As the aircraft lifted off the island from Larnaca headed for Lahr, everyone onboard cheered.  After a 1½-hour stop in Lahr, the cheer was even louder when the aircraft lifted off for the second time and headed back to Canada, and home.

Ops B Information Section (Canadian Airborne Regiment Intelligence Section), Cyprus, 1986-87.  WO Dean J. Dunlop, MCpl Chuck J. Spillane, Capt Harold Skaarup, and MCpl Rick G. Oliver, Camp HQ on the grounds of the former Ledra Palace Hotel, Nicosia.

UNFICYP medal.

(Nino Verde Photo)

Petra tou romiou beach (Rock of the Greek) on the south side of Cyprus.  Many of us learned to SCUBA dive while in Cyprus, and this was not far from some of the locations we dove on.

Nobel Peace Prize, UN, 1988

The prestigious Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to all United Nations Peacekeepers in 1988 in recognition of their collective efforts in the cause of peace.  This inspired the creation of the Canadian Peacekeeping Service Medal (CPSM) to acknowledge the unique contribution to peace that Canadian peacekeepers have made since 1947.  Almost 125,000 Canadian personnel have served in peacekeeping missions over the past 53 years. This record is unsurpassed by any nation. This tradition in the “service of peace” continues today.

Canadian Peacekeeping Service Medal (CPSM).

1973 Arab–Israeli War

9M14 Malyutka (Little One) Sagger wire-guided anti-tank guided missile (ATGM), fired from a BMP-2 APC.

The 1973 Arab–Israeli War, also known as the Yom Kippur War, Ramadan War, or October War was fought from 6 to 25 October, 1973, by a coalition of Arab states led by Egypt and Syria against Israel.  The war took place mostly in Sinai and the Golan, which had been occupied by Israel during the 1967 Six-Day War, with some fighting taking place in African Egypt and northern Israel.  Egypt's initial war objective was to use its military to seize a foothold on the east bank of the Suez Canal and use this to negotiate the return of the rest of Sinai.  

The war began when the Arab coalition launched a joint surprise attack on Israeli positions, on Yom Kippur, a widely observed day of rest, fasting, and prayer in Judaism, which also occurred that year during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.  Egyptian and Syrian forces crossed ceasefire lines to enter the Sinai Peninsula and the Golan Heights, respectively.  Both the USA and the USSR initiated massive resupply efforts to their respective allies during the war, and these efforts led to a near-confrontation between the two nuclear superpowers.

The war began with a massive and successful Egyptian crossing of the Suez Canal.  Egyptian forces crossed the cease-fire lines, then advanced virtually unopposed into the Sinai Peninsula.  After three days, Israel had mobilized most of its forces and halted the Egyptian offensive, resulting in a military stalemate.  The Syrians coordinated their attack on the Golan Heights to coincide with the Egyptian offensive and initially made threatening gains into Israeli-held territory.  Within three days, however, Israeli forces had pushed the Syrians back to the pre-war ceasefire lines.  The Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) then launched a four-day counter-offensive deep into Syria.  Within a week, Israeli artillery began to shell the outskirts of Damascus, and Egyptian President Sadat began to worry about the integrity of his major ally.  He believed that capturing two strategic passes located deeper in the Sinai would make his position stronger during post-war negotiations; he therefore ordered the Egyptians to go back on the offensive, but their attack was quickly repulsed.  The Israelis then counter-attacked at the seam between the two Egyptian armies, crossed the Suez Canal into Egypt, and began slowly advancing southward and westward towards the city of Suez in over a week of heavy fighting that resulted in heavy casualties on both sides.

(IDF PD Photo)

An Israeli M60 Patton tank destroyed in the Sinai.

On 22 October, a UN-brokered ceasefire unraveled, with each side blaming the other for the breach.  By 24 October, the Israelis had improved their positions considerably and completed their encirclement of Egypt's Third Army and the city of Suez.  This development led to tensions between the USA and the USSR, and a second ceasefire was imposed cooperatively on 25 October to end the war.

The war had far-reaching implications.  The Arab world had experienced humiliation in the lopsided rout of the Egyptian–Syrian–Jordanian alliance in the Six-Day War but felt psychologically vindicated by early successes in this conflict.  The war led Israel to recognize that, despite impressive operational and tactical achievements on the battlefield, there was no guarantee that they would always dominate the Arab states militarily, as they had consistently through the earlier wars.  These changes paved the way for the subsequent peace process.  The 1978 Camp David Accords that followed led to the return of the Sinai to Egypt and normalized relations - the first peaceful recognition of Israel by an Arab country.  Egypt continued its drift away from the USSR and eventually left the Soviet sphere of influence entirely.

Golan Heights, 1974  

The Canadian presence in the uplands between Syria and Israel is one of the longest-running international commitments ever undertaken by Canada. More than 12,000 Canadians have served there since the UN peace mission began in 1974.  

The UN was called upon in 1974 to create a mission, known as the UN Disengagement Observation Force (UNDOF), (Israel-Syria).  The Canadian contingent to UDOF is designated Operation DANICA, and its mission is to supervise the cease-fire plan and to monitor the situation afterward.  The plan created a buffer zone between the forces of the two countries.  This zone, called an "Area of Separation," is 80 kilometres long and from one to 10 kilometres wide. It is mostly located in the area known as the Golan Heights. Inside this special area, no military presence is allowed other than UN observers.  Beyond this zone there is an "Area of Limitation" where there are restrictions upon any military presence and the activity of Israeli and Syrian forces.  The mission continues.

UNDOF Medal.

A Canadian logistics company and signal element were situated in Ziouani near Quneitra. The force headquarters remained in Damascus.  The Canadians' primary role in Syria is to provide transportation, supply, maintenance, communications and other logistical support services for their fellow UN forces.  Without these essential services, the larger UN peace forces could not continue their patrols and other vital activities that help stabilize the area.  The Golan Heights is a dry, inhospitable area where poisonous snakes and other natural threats are common.  In places, the temperatures can reach 40 C in the summer and the weather can turn cold, wet and snowy in the winter.  The UN peace contingent in the Golan Heights has numbered more than 1,000 personnel strong, with tens of thousands of UN troops serving in the area over the years.  In total, approximately 40 UN personnel have died in the course of peace efforts there, including four Canadians.

Originally comprising more than 200 personnel, Operation DANACA was scaled back to 186 in 1992 and 1993, when UNDOF was reduced in size. By March 2006, when Operation DANACA closed, some 12,000 Canadian soldiers, sailors and air personnel had served on the Golan Heights.  The initial rotation of Operation GLADIUS consisted of four officers who remained in staff positions with UNDOF when the logistics unit deployed under Operation DANACA returned to Canada.  The task force was reduced to two in July 2006, and increased to three in 2011.

The single highest loss of Canadian lives since our country began to participate in international peace missions involved our presence in Syria.  Nine Canadian Armed Forces members with the UN peace mission in Egypt were killed on 9 Aug 1974, when the deHavilland CC-115 Buffalo (Serial No. 115461), they were flying in was shot down by three Syrian missiles while making a routine supply run to the mission in the Golan Heights.  The loss of Buffalo 461 remains the largest single-incident loss of life in the history of Canadian peacekeeping operations.

(Aldo Bidini Photo)

de Havilland Canada CC-115 Buffalo, painted as (Serial No. 15461) in UN service.  This aircraft was restored and placed on display at the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum in tribute to the loss of 461.  It was originally flown by the Sudanese Air Force, and later restored & painted by museum staff and volunteers to commemorate the “Buffalo Nine.”

(UN Photo)

Canadian and Panamanian UNEF II peacekeepers in the Sinai, 1 Feb 1974.

The second UN Emergency Force (UNEF II), Oct 1973 to July 1979.  UNEF II was authorized by the UN Security Council to supervise the ceasefire between Egypt and Israel following the end of the Yom Kippur War.  Canadians deployed to the region from Oct 1973 to July 1979.  Besides preventing additional flare-ups of fighting, the peacekeeping force was also tasked with assisting the Red Cross with humanitarian efforts in the region.  Canada was a leader in these peacekeeping efforts and was providing logistics, signals and air and service units.  Their three Buffalo aircraft were flying six-day-a-week schedules.

UN Flight 51 was Buffalo 461's last flight designation, for a routine scheduled supply trip from Ismailia, Egypt, to Damascus, Syria.  Five crew members and four military passengers were on board when the aircraft took off from Beirut International Airport after a stopover.  The First Officer, Captain Keith Mirau, received clearance to enter Syrian airspace from the Damascas air traffic control centre at 0945 GMT.  Shortly after crossing from Lebanon into Syria the plane was hit by a surface-to-air missile launched from a Syrian airfield.  Moments later two more missiles struck and destroyed the plane, scattering wreckage across a field near the Syrian town of Ad Dimas.  Flight 51 was carrying five crew members and four passengers: Capt G.G Foster, Capt K.B. Mirau, Capt R.B. Wicks, MWO G. Landry, A/MWO C.B. Korejwo, MCpl R.C Spencer, Cpl M.H.T. Kennington, Cpl M.W. Simpson and Cpl B.K. Stringer.  All were members of the Canadian Forces, and all nine on board were killed.


In 1984, Canadian Forces Lieutenant-Colonel Donald Ethell, acting as the Force Commander in the area, made the delicate last-minute arrangements for a large prisoner and body exchange between Israel and Syria.  The situation was tense and violence was a distinct possibility, but Lieutenant-Colonel Ethell was able to complete the exchange which involved more than 300 prisoners of war and soldier remains.  A year later he successfully arranged a similar exchange of approximately 150 prisoners.

During the Gulf War of 1991, the UN forces stationed in the Golan Heights were on high alert.  Scud missiles launched from Iraq and targeted on Israel would fly overhead on an almost nightly basis for a time. For the Canadians stationed in occupied Syria, this was a time of constant tension and sleepless nights as the perils of war again came calling on the Golan Heights.

Khmer Rouge, 1975-1979

(Documentation Center of Cambodia Photo)

The Khmer Rouge soldiers, Angkor Wat, Cambodia.

Between 1975 and 1979, Pol Pot, Nuon Chea, Ieng Sary, Son Sen, Khieu Samphan and the Communist Party of Kampuchea ruled over Cambodia.  The nation was renamed the Democratic Kampuchea by the Khmer Rouge.  During their rule, between 1,671,000 and 1,871,000 people, or 21 to 24 percent of Cambodia's 1975 population, were murdered through a combination of political executions, disease, starvation and forced labour.  The appalling number of deaths that took place during the rule of the Khmer Rouge are commonly known as the Cambodian genocide.  The Khmer Rouge took power at the end of the Cambodian Civil War and were only toppled after the invasion of Cambodia by the neighbouring Socialist Republic of Vietnam in the Cambodian-Vietnamese War.  Most of Cambodia remained under Vietnamese occupation for over a decade.

The Cambodian government and the United Nations agreed to run the trials jointly in 2003.  The trials for Cambodia's surviving Khmer Rouge leaders on charges of genocide began in 2006, with the swearing-in of judges and prosecutors.  They included a Canadian, Robert Petit, a 45-year-old lawyer from Ottawa who worked for Justice Canada's War Crimes division.  Petit had sat on a number of international tribunals, including the UN-sponsored war crimes courts for Rwanda and Sierra Leone.

UN Advance Mission in Cambodia (UNAMIC), 1991-1992

From 15 March 1992 - 1 November 1993, under UNAMIC, Canada had committed 103 personnel in Operation MARQUIS. When UNTAC took over from UNAMIC in March 1992, that number continued to grow so that between March 1992 and November 1993 approximately 240 Canadian Forces personnel participated at any one time.  T he Canadian contribution included mainly engineers, headquarters and logistics staff, and transportation personnel (the latter as 92 Transport Company), but also thirty naval observers who served with UNTAC’s Maritime component.  While some Canadian civilians served as administrative workers and electoral observers, Canadian Forces military personnel were not authorized to serve as electoral officers.

United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC), 1992-1993

UNTAC was a UN peacekeeping operation in Cambodia in 1992–93 formed following the 1991 Paris Peace Accords.  It was also the first occasion on which the UN had taken over the administration of an independent state, organised and run an election (as opposed to monitoring or supervising), had its own radio station and jail, and been responsible for promoting and safeguarding human rights at the national level.

Authorized under United Nations Security Council Resolution 745 on 28 February 1992, the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC) was given the job of implementing a cease-fire agreement (the Agreements on a Comprehensive Political Settlement of the Cambodia Conflict) signed in October 1991. It was tasked with the conduct of free and fair general elections, military arrangements, civil administration, the maintenance of law and order the repatriation and resettlement of the Cambodian refugees and displaced persons and the rehabilitation of essential Cambodian infrastructure during the transitional period.

UNAMIC Medal, and UNTAC Medal.

Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC) 1993–30 June 2000  

The Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC) is a mine-removal school created in 1993 by the United Nations Development Program to help the Khmer people reclaim their country from the land-mines sown everywhere during more than 25 years of total war.  During seven years of military technical support to mine-removal operations in Cambodia, more than 60 Canadian Forces field engineers and logisticians served year-long tours training Khmer mine-removal teams and co-ordinating evaluations of humanitarian mine-clearance technologies.  Before the members of the seventh and last Canadian Forces rotation to CMAC returned to Canada, they were received in audience by King Norodom Sihanouk of Cambodia.  CMAC now operates in the cities of Battambang, Sihanoukville, Kampong Thom and Phnom Penh, and humanitarian mine-removal operations are now conducted in Cambodia through the United Nations Development Program, partly supported by the Canadian International Development Agency.


Lebanese Civil War, 1975-1990

(USMC Photo)

The Lebanese Civil War, 1975-1990, resulted in an estimated 120,000 fatalities and an exodus of almost one million people from Lebanon.  Before the war, Lebanon was multisectarian, with Sunni Muslims and Christians being the majorities in the coastal cities, Shia Muslims being mainly based in the south and the Beqaa Valley to the east, and with the mountain populations being mostly Druze and Christian.  The government of Lebanon had been run under a significant influence of the elites among the Maronite Christians.  The link between politics and religion had been reinforced under the mandate of the French colonial powers from 1920 to 1943, and the parliamentary structure favored a leading position for its Christian population.  However, the country had a large Muslim population and many pan-Arabist and left-wing groups opposed the pro-western government. The establishment of the state of Israel and the displacement of a hundred thousand Palestinian refugees to Lebanon during the 1948 and 1967 exoduses contributed to shifting the demographic balance in favor of the Muslim population.  The Cold War had a powerful disintegrative effect on Lebanon, which was closely linked to the polarization that preceded the 1958 political crisis, since Maronites sided with the West while leftist and pan-Arab groups sided with Soviet-aligned Arab countries.

(KKL-JNF Photo Archive)

A Butterfly Haganah improvised Armoured-car at Kibbutz Dorot in the Negev, Israel, in 1948. The Armoured-car is based on a Canadian Military Pattern 15 (CMP-15) truck and was used to bring supplies to the Kibbutz.

Fighting between Maronite and Palestinian forces, mainly from the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) began in 1975, then Leftist, pan-Arabist and Muslim Lebanese groups formed an alliance with the Palestinians.  During the course of the fighting, alliances shifted rapidly and unpredictably.  Furthermore, foreign powers, such as Israel and Syria, became involved in the war and fought alongside different factions.  Peacekeeping forces, such as the Multinational Force in Lebanon and the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), were also stationed in Lebanon.

In Canada, the civil war raised the possibility that Canadian nationals might need to be evacuated.  On 9 October 1975, a No. 436 Squadron Lockheed CC-130 Hercules was placed on standby in case an airlift was required.  The standby period lasted into 1976, with Canadians and other nationals were evacuated from Lebanon that year.

The 1989 Taif Agreement marked the beginning of the end of the fighting.  In January 1989, a committee appointed by the Arab League began to formulate solutions to the conflict.  In March 1991, parliament passed an amnesty law that pardoned all political crimes prior to its enactment.  In May 1991, the militias were dissolved, with the exception of Hezbollah, while the Lebanese Armed Forces began to slowly rebuild as Lebanon's only major non-sectarian institution.  Religious tensions between Sunnis and Shias remained after the war.

Iran – Iraq War, 22 Sep 1980 - 20 Aug 1988.  Also known as the “First Gulf War”, this conflict began on 22 September 1980, when Iraq invaded Iran, and it ended on 20 August 1988, when Iran accepted a UN-brokered ceasefire.  Iraq wanted to replace Iran as the dominant Persian Gulf state, and was worried the 1979 Iranian Revolution would lead Iraq's Shi'te majority to rebel against its Ba'athist government.  The war also followed a long history of border disputes, and Iraq planned to annex the oil-rich Khuzestan Province and the east bank of the Shatt al-Arab (Arvand Rud).

Although Iraq hoped to take advantage of Iran's post-revolutionary chaos, it made limited progress and was quickly repelled; Iran regained virtually all lost territory by June 1982.  For the next five years, Iran was on the offensive until Iraq took back the initiative in 1988, and those major offensives led to the final conclusion of the war.  There were a number of proxy forces, most notably the People's Mujahedin of Iran siding with Iraq, and the Iraqi Kurdish militias of the KDP and PUK siding with Iran.  The USA, the UK, the USSR, France and most Arab countries provided political and logistic support for Iraq, while Iran was largely isolated.

(USN Photo)

On 17 May 1987, an Iraqi Dassault Mirage F1 fighter jet launched two Exocet missiles at the USS Stark, a Perry-class frigate.  The first struck the port side of the ship and failed to explode, though it left burning propellant in its wake; the second struck moments later in approximately the same place and penetrated through to crew quarters, where it exploded, killing 37 crew members and leaving 21 injured.  Whether or not Iraqi leadership authorized the attack is still unknown.  Initial claims by the Iraqi government (that Stark was inside the Iran–Iraq War zone) were shown to be false, and the motives and orders of the pilot remain unanswered. Though American officials claimed that the pilot who attacked Stark had been executed, an ex-Iraqi Air Force commander stated he had not been punished, and was still alive.  The attack remains the only successful anti-ship missile strike on an American warship.  Due to the extensive political and military cooperation between the Iraqis and Americans by 1987, the attack had little effect on relations between the two countries.

After eight years of war, war-exhaustion, economic devastation, decreased morale, military stalemate, lack of international sympathy against the use of weapons of mass destruction against civilians by Iraqi forces, and increased American - Iranian military tension all led to a ceasefire brokered by the UN.

(Reuters Photo)

An Iraqi armored personnel carrier and two Iraqi tanks, left over after the Iran-Iraq War.

The conflict has been compared to the First World War in terms of the tactics used, including large-scale trench warfare with barbed wire stretched across fortified defensive lines, manned machine-gun posts, bayonet charges, Iranian human wave attacks, extensive use of chemical weapons by Iraq, and, later, deliberate attacks on civilian targets.  A special feature of the war can be seen in the Iranian cult of the martyr which had been developed in the years before the revolution.  The discourses on martyrdom formulated in the Iranian Shi'ite context led to the tactics of "human wave attacks" and thus had a lasting impact on the dynamics of the war.  An estimated 500,000 Iraqi and Iranian soldiers died, in addition to a smaller number of civilians.  The end of the war resulted in neither reparations nor border changes.

The United Nations Iran-Iraq Military Observer Group (UNIIMOG), was established to verify, confirm and supervise the cease-fire and the withdrawal of all forces to the internationally recognized boundaries, pending a comprehensive settlement.  

Under the designation Operation VAGABOND, Canada announced that it would contribute to UNIIMOG on 8 August 1987.  Just two days later, a reconnaissance party of five left for the operational area; the entire contingent, including fifteen UNMOs and a communications unit of approximately five hundred soldiers and 150 vehicles shortly afterwards.

The UNMOs were to establish the cease-fire lines, monitor compliance with the cease-fire, investigate any violations of the same and supervise the withdrawal of all Iranian and Iraqi military forces to their own territory.  The communications unit, No. 88 Canadian Signals Squadron, was formed specifically for this operation, primarily from troops based at Canadian Forces Bases Petawawa and Kingston.  Its task was to set up a communications system in both Iran and Iraq for use by UNIIMOG civilian staff members.  By March 1989 the Canadian signalers had completed their task and were on their way back to Canada.

In January 1991, the two parties agreed to convene a technical meeting of military experts to discuss and resolve the issue of disputed positions along the internationally recognized borders between the countries.  By the end of the month the Iranian Army had withdrawn from thirteen of seventeen disputed positions and Iraq had left twenty-three of twenty-nine such positions, all under the watchful eyes of the UNMOs.  With UNIIMOG’s mandate about to expire, the Secretary General recommended that it be extended one month to allow supervision of the withdrawal of the belligerent forces from the remaining positions.  That occurred in Iran, but before the work could be completed in Iraq the UN had to withdraw its forces because of the impending conflict following Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait.

In 1991, Canada joined an international military coalition to confront Iraq following its invasion of Kuwait.  Canada contributed warships and fighter aircraft to the successful campaign to liberate Kuwait.  It was the first time Canada sent women to war in combat roles, and it was the first time in decades that Canadian air and naval forces supported each other in a war zone.  More than 5,100 Canadian military personnel served in the war, with a peak of about 2,700 in the region at one time.  No members of the Canadian Forces died during the conflict.

UN Military Observation Group in Iran – Iraq (UNIIMOG) Medal.

Gulf War and Kuwait, 1990-1991

The Gulf and Kuwait Medal recognizes the participation of CF members deployed or in direct support of the operations against Iraq during the Gulf war. The medal is awarded to those employed during the build-up of troops before the beginning of hostilities, and a bar is awarded for those deployed during the actual war.

Gulf and Kuwait Medal.

Operation FRICTION was a Canadian military operation that saw the contribution of 4,500 Canadian Forces personnel to the 1991 Gulf War.  The larger US components were Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm.  Operation FRICTION initially saw Canadian Forces Maritime Command order the destroyers HMCS Terra Nova and HMCS Athabaskan to assist with enforcing the UN trade blockade against Iraq.  The supply ship HMCS Protecteur was deployed with the destroyers to provide underway replenishment as well as command/control and at-sea medical services to the small task force which operated in the Persian Gulf, Straits of Hormuz and Gulf of Oman.  Canada suffered no casualties during the conflict but since its end many veterans have complained of suffering from Gulf War syndrome.

Following UN authorization of military force to remove Iraq from occupied territory in Kuwait, AIRCOM deployed two McDonnell Douglas CF-188 Hornet (24 aircraft) squadrons with support personnel from CFB Baden-Soellingen in Germany to a temporary base in Qatar.  Force Mobile Command (FMC) also sent a large field hospital to Qatar to deal with casualties from the expected ground war.

During the Gulf War, Canada's CF-188 Hornet squadrons were integrated with Coalition air resources and provided combat air patrols as well as being involved in attacks of ground and water targets.  This was the first time since the Korean War that the Canadian military had participated in offensive combat operations.  Operation Friction saw approximately 4,500 CF personnel deployed to the Persian Gulf from Aug 1990 to Feb 1991 with a peak deployment of 2,700 personnel during the Gulf War in January 1991.  Personnel were primarily attached to four units in the Persian Gulf region: Canadian Task Group at sea, the Canadian Air Task Group in Doha, Qatar, the Joint Headquarters, Canadian Forces Middle East, in Manama, Baharain, First Canadian Field Hospital at Al-Qaysumah.  The headquarters of the Canadian Forces in the Middle East was a joint headquarters established on November 6, 1990, and commanded by Commodore Kenneth J. Summers.  It included a communications unit and various joint military staffs.

Before the war began on January 16, 1991, Canadian naval forces patrolled the central Persian Gulf. When hostilities commenced, Captain Duncan "Dusty" Miller, Commander of the Canadian Naval Task Group, became the multinational co-ordinator for a large naval combat logistics area established in the southern Persian Gulf.

Two Canadian destroyers, HMCS Terra Nova and HMCS Athabaskan escorted the United States hospital ships, USS Comfort and USS Mercy, the latter with CF medical staff on board.  HMCS Protecteur, an auxiliary oil replenishment ship, serviced all nations involved in naval operations within the Gulf.  Five Sikorsky CH-124 Sea King helicopters based at CFB Shearwater, Nova Scotia, and CFB Patricia's Bay, BC were also attached to the Naval Task Group, performing reconnaissance, mine search and destroy, air-to-ship naval interdiction, utility and command-and-liaison tasks.  Another Canadian destroyer, HMCS Huron arrived in theatre after hostilities ceased and was the first allied ship to visit Kuwait.

The Canadian Forces Air Command provided combat air patrols in the north and central areas of the Persian Gulf. These patrols worked with the coalition air forces to protect coalition naval forces and land bases from Iraqi air attacks.  As the conflict progressed, the Canadian Air Task Group took on other combat roles, such as sweep and escort for coalition bombing missions and later, air-to-ground bombing missions. Canadian pilots were credited with partially destroying an Iraqi patrol boat in the Persian Gulf, and Canadian CF-188 Hornets carried out 56 bombing sorties against Iraqi forces.

Canadian Forces in the Gulf were supported by Air Command’s Transport Group, providing personnel and cargo transport using a fleet of 27 Lockheed CC-130 Hercules and five Boeing CC-137s, one of which was used in the Gulf as an air-to-air refueler for Coalition air forces.  The Transport Group also provided a Canadair CC-144 Challenger in a command-and-liaison role for the deployed Commander of the Canadian Forces.

On the day that the US Operation Desert Storm component of the Gulf War began, January 16, 1991, Canada announced that it would send a field hospital to the Persian Gulf region. As a result, 1 Canadian Field Hospital from CFB Petawawa, Ontario, joined the British land forces and was deployed in the Saudi Arabian desert behind 1 (UK) Armoured Division.  The hospital became fully operational on 25 Feb 1991, only a few days before the hostilities ceased; it stopped operating on 4 March 1991.

CF Mission/Operation Notes: On 10 August 1990, Prime Minister Brian Mulroney announced that Canada would send two warships and a supply vessel to aid in the multinational efforts aimed at restoring the sovereignty of Kuwait. Other options had been considered, but the Army was occupied with planning for possible participation in resolving the Oka Crisis (what became Op Salon) while the Air Force was committed to Europe and the potentially unstabilizing events following the break-up of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact.

Cabinet decided, after input from the Canadian Forces, to send HMC Ships Protecteur, Athabaskan and Terra Nova, but they would require some new equipment to meet the potential threats posed by Iraqi forces. These included installing Phalanx close-in-weapons-systems, chaff systems and electronic suites. The latter was perhaps one of the more significant installations, as the British BRAHMS secure communications systems allowed the Canadians to communicate with the Royal Navy and the Australian and Dutch navies while at the same time using the already installed STU III system to talk with the United States Navy. HMC Ships could thus become a conduit between various navies.  Along with the major systems, six Bofors 40 mm anti-aircraft guns were fitted - two on each ship. These provided anti-aircraft defence and surface mine destruction capabilities, as well as being useful for boarding operations. They sailed under the name Operation FRICTION.

Sailing with the ships were three nine-man detachments from 119 Air Defence Battery, equipped with the newly acquired Javelin low level surface to air missile. Five Sea King helicopters from No. 423 Squadron provided air coverage for the ships. Eleven major systems were identified as requiring upgrade or installation, including forward looking infra-red (FLIR), global positioning system (GPS), and various threat warning devices. What was considered to be an 18-month peacetime refit was completed in eight days.

The ships, with embarked personnel from 119 Air Defence Battery and 423 Squadron, sailed from Halifax on 24 August. They arrived in Bahrain on 27 September, having conducted numerous training exercises en-route. On 1 October 1990 HMC Ships Athabaskan and Terra Nova started interception and inspection operations in support of UN resolution 661. With two ships on station at any one time, the three Canadian ships conducted over 100 interceptions and hailings in the first week alone. By the start of offensive operations, the three Canadian ships had conducted over one quarter of all interceptions (1644 of 6103) while comprising less than 10 percent of the ships in the Maritime Interdiction Force (MIF). The Sea Kings were also to make a significant contribution, as they had a longer endurance than most helicopters embarked on MIF vessels, and the Forward Looking Infra Red provided a much-valued night-time capability in detecting smaller vessels at night.

These operations were conducted in the central Arabian Gulf, where the Canadian ships could provide the maximum contribution. HMCS Protecteur was the only auxiliary vessel in the Coalition fleet that was conducting interception operations – this was a role assumed by warships of other navies.  HMCS Protecteur’s wide selection of refuelling nozzles, which allowed her to replenish all customers, obviating the need for them to return to port, added immeasurably to her value in-theatre.

Canada’s commitment to Gulf operations increased on 14 September, when the Prime Minister announced that the CF would provide a squadron of fighter aircraft to provide Combat Air Patrols (CAP) for the Canadian ships in the Gulf. These aircraft came from 409 Squadron in Baden, augmented by aircraft and personnel from 421 and 439 Squadrons. The last of the 16 aircraft arrived in Doha, Qatar on 12 October, through Operation SCIMITAR.

(DND Photo ISC91-5253)

McDonnell Douglas CF-188 Hornet in Qatar readying for take-off in April 1991.

Two days later Canadian CF-18s began to conduct patrols in area Whiskey 2 - the Coalition fleet’s second line of air defence – and turned back an Iraqi two-aircraft patrol. Within two weeks, having by then figured out how they could be fully integrated into the US – led air defence scheme and operations, they replaced US Marine Corps F-18s patrolling in area Whiskey-1, a front-line sector. Further proof of Canadian capabilities came when they were tasked to provide CAP for the US Navy aircraft carrier Midway while it was transiting through the Straits of Hormuz. The carrier was prohibited from launching its own CAP while in the Straits.

Security at Doha was provided by “M” Company, 3rd Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment from CFB Lahr, Germany. The 118 personnel were responsible for security of the Canadian facilities at Doha, building defensive positions and observation posts and erecting fences. Four Grizzly wheeled vehicles were brought over from Canada to provide support for night-time patrols and security checks. The Grizzlies soon proved so useful that they were integrated into the allied patrols for the Doha airbase. In December, M Company was replaced by “C” Company, 1st Battalion, Le Royal 22e Régiment from Lahr.

On 6 November, Commodore K.J. Summers assumed command of all Canadian units and personnel in the Middle East: his Headquarters operated under the name Headquarters Canadian Forces-Middle East (HQ CANFORME). Creation and deployment of the headquarters was under Operation ACCORD. At this time the CF-18 aircraft officially became part of Operation FRICTION.

Besides the CF-18s and resupply flights, the air force also provided in-theatre transport and air-to-air refuelling, while 412 Squadron maintained a Canadair CC-144 Challenger aircraft in theatre supported by 3 pilots, 2 flight engineers and 8 other personnel to provide local transport for the Canadian headquarters. The Challenger flew over 300 hours in support of this mission.

In preparation for the air war, No. 437 Squadron deployed its only CC-137 Boeing air-to-air refuelling aircraft on 6 January. Over the course of Op FRICTION, the AAR Boeings passed over 2,000 tons of fuel to coalition aircraft in 87 missions, of which 87 percent was to Canadian aircraft.

About forty Canadian sailors, soldiers, airmen and airwomen served individually with foreign forces in the Gulf as part of their normal exchange duties. These included the US Navy, Royal Navy and French Navy, US Air Force transport and AWACS squadrons and Royal Air Force fighter squadrons, as well as British armoured and signals regiments.

When the US Navy indicated that it would send the hospital ships USS Comfort and USS Mercy to the Gulf, US Medical Reserves were called up. Even then, the ships were understaffed. Canada responded by offering a nine-person medical team in return for Canadian personnel having access to the US medical system. These nine personnel joined USS Mercy in the Persian Gulf on 19 September and remained until early January 1991 at which time they were replaced by another nine-person team who remained for the duration of the conflict.

A further contribution of medical personnel was made to the Bahraini Defence Force (BDF). When it was found out that the extra medical staff on HMCS Protecteur were not required to meet her needs, an arrangement was therefore made with the BDF that the nine officers and non-commissioned members would serve with BDF doctors.

Often overlooked was the presence of 15 Canadians in Iraq as part of the 350 person United Nations Iran Iraq Military Observer Group (UNIIMOG), there to observe the disengagement of Iranian and Iraqi forces after the Iranian-Iraq War ceasefire of 1988. In September the UN reduced the size of UNIIMOG by 40 percent, with nine Canadians remaining. In January 1991, with tensions increasing as the deadline for Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait approached, the last of the UNIIMOG observers were withdrawn.

As the threat of war loomed, Canadian political and military authorities ensured that, in contrast to the Korean Conflict, Canada’s naval contribution would remain an organically unified entity rather than see HMC Ships dispersed to US and British commands for individual assignments. The air force contribution was already well integrated into the coalition, but it would be increased to twenty-four aircraft and about 550 men and women. Pilots from 421 and 439 Squadrons in Baden and 416 Squadron in Cold Lake replaced the initial deployments.

The air war began the night of 16 January with the CF-18s flying CAP, in Whiskey – 1 and immediately raised the chance of blue-on-blue conflict when allied pilots returning from offensive operations entered the Canadian patrol area without having turned on their Identification – Friend – Foe (IFF) transmitters. All these aircraft had to be intercepted and positively identified as friendlies – at night, often with closing speeds of Mach 2 – and no mistakes were made. This CAP of Whiskey-1 was almost exclusively Canadian until 19 January, at which time the arrival of two more American aircraft carriers allowed the Canadians to reduce their flying hours.

Starting 20 January, the Canadians started “sweep and escort” missions. CF-18s would sweep ahead of a group of attack bombers to ensure that the area was clear of enemy aircraft. Other CF-18s would provide close escort to manage any threats that popped up after the sweep aircraft had passed. These missions were not without risk. The anti-aircraft fire over Iraq was intense; the Iraqi forces also appeared to have a surplus of surface-to-air missiles, many of which were spotted approaching Canadian aircraft. Luckily, the missiles dropped away at the last minute, falling short.

On 30 January two CF-18s were diverted to attack an Iraqi fast patrol boat that had managed to escape destruction by other aircraft. After two strafing runs with the CF-18s 20 mm guns, the boat was irreparably damaged and later found to have sought safe-haven in Iran.

In mid-February, plans were underway at National Defence Headquarters for the CF-18s to take on a more offensive role – attacking Iraqi targets on the ground. To provide the necessary bombs, Operation IRON SABRE (see separate entry) was initiated on 22 February. Two days later the CF-18s conducted their first bombing run, dropping thirty-two Mk 82 500 lbs bomb, and it was intended that they would conduct between eight and sixteen sorties a day for up to thirty-two days. However, hostilities would end on 28 February, and as a result the CF-18s conducted only 56 bombing missions.

The navy would also change its role. With the onset of hostilities, few merchant vessels would be sailing in the war zone, which meant that there was less need for maritime interdiction. But because the Canadian ships lacked all ‘round air defence weapons, they could not operate where the threat of air attack on ships or the use of Exocet missiles was high. At a meeting on 9 January the Canadian representative proposed that Canada act as the coordinator of the combat logistics force.

The Canadian ships were more than adequate to provide security for the logistics vessels that would replenish the carrier battle groups and other combatants, while the communications suite in the Canadian ships allowed them to communicate with all other navies. The commander of the Canadian Task Group, Captain (N) D.E. Miller, became the only non-US Navy officer to hold the position of Subordinate Warfare Commander during the conflict.

In mid-February carrier operations moved farther north in the Gulf as the threat from Iraqi forces had been considerably reduced. The threat to the CLF was also reduced and the supply vessels were able to move north with the carriers, with no further escort required. However, the United States Navy still wanted Canada to continue in the role of middleman and coordinating vessel movements. This time they concentrated on controlling the merchant vessels moving to and from ports in the Gulf that were not affected by the conflict and ensured that all ships were identified and stayed in their designated sea-lanes. The Canadian Task Group coordinated the picket ships stationed along the sea-lanes, which considerably eased the workload.

HMCS Protecteur, whose original crew had been replaced by the crew of HMCS Preserver in January, took on the task of replenishing the ships on picket duty and made three such trips before the ceasefire was declared. Meanwhile, HMCS Athabaskan twice went into the northern Gulf, the first time to escort the US cruiser USS Princeton that had been seriously damaged by two mines and the second to escort the hospital ship USS Comfort and then protect her from floating mines. HMCS Athabaskan conducted slow patrols while USS Comfort was anchored.

(DND Photo)

Canadian warships conduct replenishment at sea en route to the Persian Gulf: HMCS Athabaskan, Protecteur and Terra Nova. September 1990.

With the ceasefire, all three ships finished their assigned tasks and then headed for Dubai, entering the port on 3 March. Shortly thereafter they departed for Halifax, arriving to a tumultuous welcome on 7 April.  The CF-18s returned to Baden, with the last aircraft leaving Doha on 9 March.  At 10:00 AM on 16 April, HQ CANFORME closed its doors, thus ending Canadian participation in the Gulf War.

Soviet-Afghan War, 1979-1989

(Erwin Lax Photo)

Mujahideen in Kunar, Afghanistan, 1987.

The USSR entered neighboring Afghanistan in 1979, attempting to shore up the newly-established pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. Roughly 100,000 Soviet soldiers quickly took control of all major cities and highways.  The Afghans fought back, but their Mujahideen rebels and those who supported them were dealt with harshly by the Soviets who leveled entire villages to deny safe havens to their enemy.  Foreign support propped up the diverse group of rebels, pouring in from Iran, Pakistan, China, and the USA.  In the brutal nine-year conflict, an estimated one million civilians were killed, as well as 90,000 Mujahideen fighters, 18,000 Afghan troops, and 14,500 Soviet soldiers.  Once the Russians had withdrawn, a terrible civil war raged in the aftermath, setting the stage for the takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban in 1996.

Multinational Force and Observers (MFO), 1981 - ongoing  

The MFO is an international peacekeeping force overseeing the terms of the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel.  The MFO generally operates in and around the Sinai peninsula.  Operation CALUMET is Canada's support to the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO).  The MFO is an independent peacekeeping operation in the Sinai Peninsula.  Canada has been in the MFO since 1 Sep 1985.  Approximately 55 Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members make up Task Force El Gorah. They are based in South Camp and Forward Operating Base North of the MFO, in Egypt.

Canada provides key leaders for the MFO headquarters.  The Canadian group is led by a Colonel or Captain (Navy).  He/she serves as the mission’s Chief Liaison Officer.  The Canadian group also includes senior leaders and experts in logistics, engineering and training.  The MFO uses helicopters and small fixed-wing aircraft to travel through the mission area.  The CAF unit keeps track of their positions.  The CAF unit also provides them with information on traffic, weather, and flight plans. It provides critical support to the mission.


MFO medal and flight suit badge.

Canada’s first MFO group was formed in September 1985.  It was made up of 140 Royal Canadian Air Force members and nine Bell CH-135 Twin Huey tactical helicopters.  They were sent from 10 Tactical Air Group (10 TAG), at Canadian Forces Base St-Hubert, Quebec.  They established the Canadian Rotary Wing Aviation Unit (RWAU) at El Gorah on 31 March 1986.  The Canadian RWAU handled helicopter operations.  It supported observer inspections and verifications. It also supported MFO infantry battalions.  Other tasks included medical evacuations and unit training. The RWAU also ran the MFO’s air traffic control system.  The Canadian RWAU left in March 1990.

(Ahunt Photo)

Bell CH-135 Twin Huey (Serial No. 135102) serving with the Multinational Force and Observers Sinai, Egypt, 1989.

Military police officers have been a part of the Canadian group since March 2015.  From March 2015 to March 2019, they had the police and security duties in the North and South camps of the MFO.  This included traffic control, patrols, investigations, inspections, and searches.  They also worked to stop crime and run general security within both camps.

As of March 2019, the CAF continues to fill the following positions of MFO Provost Marshal, Force Military Police Unit (FMPU) Sergeant Major and Lead investigator.  These key leadership positions provide guidance to the FMPU to ensure that good order, safety and discipline within the MFO are not compromised.  With the draw-down of the military police contingent, Canada is focusing on delivering key capabilities to support the observation of the Treaty of Peace and Agreed Arrangements, while preserving MFO through the appropriate force protection measures in order to facilitate the continuing peace between Israel and Egypt.

United Nations Transition Assistance Group (UNTAG), Namibia, 1989 - 1990

UNTAG was a UN peacekeeping deployed from April 1989 to March 1990 in Namibia to monitor the peace process and elections there.  UNTAG was established in accordance with UN Resolution 632 (1989) of 16 February 1989, to assist the Special Representative of the Secretary-General to ensure the early independence of Namibia through free and fair elections under the supervision and control of the United Nations.  UNTAG was also to help the Special Representative to ensure that: all hostile acts were ended; troops were confined to base, and, in the case of the South Africans, ultimately withdrawn from Namibia; all discriminatory laws were repealed, political prisoners were released, Namibian refugees were permitted to return, intimidation of any kind was prevented, and law and order were impartially maintained.

Namibia had been occupied by South Africa since 1915, first under a League of Nations mandate and later illegally.  Since 1966, South African forces had been combating an insurgency by the People's Liberation Army of Namibia (PLAN), the military wing of the Namibian-nationalist South West African People's Organization (SWAPO) . The UN Security Council passed Resolution 435 in 1978, which set out a plan for elections administered by South Africa but under UN supervision and control after a ceasefire.  However, only in 1988 were the two parties able to agree to a ceasefire.  As UNTAG began to deploy peacekeepers, military observers, police, and political workers, hostilities were briefly renewed on the day the transition process was supposed to begin.  After a new round of negotiations, a second date was set and the elections process began in earnest.  Elections for the constitutional assembly took place in November 1989.  They were peaceful and declared free and fair; SWAPO won a majority of the seats.  The new constitution was adopted four months later and it was followed by Namibia's official independence and the successful conclusion of UNTAG.

The military component (MILCOM) was responsible for monitoring the ceasefire, disarming SWAPO militants, overseeing the withdrawal of the SADF, and controlling the borders.  UNTAG Force Headquarters. Troops were drawn from 28 countries and the staffing of the Force Commander's Headquarters reflected the various contingent nationalities. This is a normal practice in UN military missions with senior military staff positions being filled according to national commitments.  Canada provided a Deputy Chief of Logistics.  A Canadian Logistic Unit provided second line logistic support until it was withdrawn.

UNTAG Medal and UN badge.

Canada’s participation in UNTAG dated back to the five-nation contact group that attempted to mediate a South African withdrawal from South West Africa throughout the 1980s.  Once negotiations bore fruit, however, the Canadian military contribution, designated Operation MATADOR, was assembled very quickly.  Following official notification from the UN on 10 February 1989, the advance party was in place in Namibia on 14 March, while the main contingent would follow in April.  It comprised several new units specific to the tasking.  Three were created on 11 April 1989: a Canadian Contingent United Nations Transition Group (CCUNTAG) was formed as the headquarters, supported by the Canadian Element UNTAG, and 89 Canadian Logistics Unit (89 CLU).  A fourth unit, 89 Canadian Air Transport Unit (89 CATU) was formed on 24 May 1989 to meet the UN’s requirement for medium airlift.

The main Op MATADOR contingent began to gather at CFB Petawawa, Ontario, on 20 March.  Although 89 CLU would be formed primarily from 2 Service Battalion, support personnel came from across Canada and the unit would include nineteen reservists.  Sixteen of the 253-strong contingent would serve for one year; the rest would have six month rotations.  They and their lighter equipment were airlifted to Namibia by 436 and 437 Squadrons between 12 April and 7 May; heavier equipment (80 sea containers, 47 vehicles, and 600 tonnes of other cargo) was shipped on two merchant vessels, arriving at Walvis Bay on 4 May, whence it was transferred by rail to Windhoek.

With its main base in Windhoek, the capital, and a detachment at Ketmanshoop (500 km to the south), 89 CLU supported all military, police, and civilian UNTAG personnel in the southern half of Namibia.  Co-operating with the Poles, 89 CLU established a major warehousing system and then ensured timely delivery of supplies to a far-flung network of units and locations.  It also provided first- and second-line maintenance for the mission’s vehicles.  Ten military police served with the UN’s 71-strong MP contingent, which operated throughout the territory, while individual Canadians filled staff positions at UNTAG HQ, including the chief liaison officer between UNTAG and the South African Defence Force.  89 CATU, formed from 429 Squadron, provided two CC-130 Hercules aircraft to transport personnel and supplies to northern Namibia and Angola.  Supported by the Polish logistics company and a ten-person MP detachment (four were Canadian), 89 CATU operated from Grootfontein, 500 km north of Windhoek, in May and June 1989, when it was replaced by a Spanish detachment.

September 1989 saw the first rotation of Canadian personnel, with a contingent based on 1 Service Battalion (Calgary) replacing that provided by 2 Service Battalion. They would remain until mid-January 1990, when UNTAG began to draw down. The last of the 600 Canadians to serve on Operation MATADOR departed when the UN mission itself closed on 21 March 1990.  It had been a success: free and fair elections, with heavy turnout and no reports of violence, were held between 7 and 11 November and the transfer of power that followed proceeded smoothly.


Operation PYTHON, a maximum of 35 CF personnel from May 1991 – June 1994.

Angola, 1991

UN Angola Verification Mission (UNAVEM) was to confirm the withdrawal of Cuban troops from Angola and to monitor the cease-fire agreement between the government of Angola and the Union for Total Independence of Angola (UNITA). UNAVEM II began following a peace accord which was signed in Lisbon in May 1991. Canadian officers joined the observers to ensure the final withdrawal of Cuban and South African forces.  UNAVEM I  for Canadians began in May 1991.

UN Angola Verification Mission (UNAVEM) Medal.

Central America, 1989-1992

UN Observer Group in Central America (ONUCA).  Established in December 1989 to conduct on-site verification of termination of aid to irregular forces and insurrectionist movements, and the non-use of the territory of one State for attacks on other States in the countries of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. The Mission terminated in January 1992.

UN Observer Group in Central America (ONUCA) Medal.

El Salvador, 1991

UN Observation Mission in El Salvador (ONUSAL) was established on 20 May 1991 to monitor all agreements between the Government of El Salvador and Frente Farabundo Marti para la Liberacion Nacional (FMLN).  This Mission was subsequently expanded in January 1992 to assume the verification of all aspects of the cease-fire, the separation of forces, and the agreement on the National Civil Police, which saw ONUSAL monitoring the maintenance of public order during the transitional period while a new National Civil Police was set up.

UN Observation Mission in El Salvador (ONUSAL) Medal.

United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO), 1991 - 1994.

MINURSO is the UN peacekeeping mission in Western Sahara, established in 1991 under UN Security Council Resolution 690 as part of the Settlement Plan, which had paved way for a cease-fire in the conflict between Morocco and the Polisario Front (representing the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic), over the contested territory of Western Sahara (formerly Spanish Sahara).

MINURSO's mission was to monitor the cease-fire and to organize and conduct a referendum in accordance with the Settlement Plan, which would enable the Sahrawi people of Western Sahara to choose between integration with Morocco and independence.  This was intended to constitute a Sahrawi exercise of self-determination, and thus complete Western Sahara's still-unfinished process of decolonization.  (Western Sahara is the last major territory remaining on the UN's list of non-decolonized territories.)

To this end, MINURSO has been given the following mandates: Monitor the ceasefire, verify the reduction of Moroccan troops in the territory, monitor the confinement of Moroccan and Polisario troops to designated locations, take steps with the parties to ensure the release of all Western Saharan political prisoners or detainees, oversee the exchange of prisoners of war (through the International Committee of the Red Cross), implement the repatriation programme (through the UN High Commissioner for Regugees), identify and register qualified voters, and organize and ensure a free and fair referendum and proclaim the results.


35 CF personnel served on Operation PYTHON in the Western Sahara from May 1991 – June 1994.

In 2018, Colin Stewart was Canada's Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Western Sahara (SRSG), appointed by the UN Secretary-General to lead the MINURSO mission.

Romanian Revolution, 1989

(FORTEPAN / Urbán Tamás Photo)

T-55 tank in front of Opera House, Romania.

The Romanian Revolution of 1989 was a period of violent civil unrest in Socialist Romania during December 1989 as a part of the Revolutions of 1989 that occurred in several countries.  The Romanian Revolution started in the city of Timi?oara and soon spread throughout the country, ultimately culminating in the show trial and execution of longtime Communist Party General Secretary Nicolae Ceau?cu and his wife Elena, and the end of 42 years of Communist rule in Romania.  It was also the last removal of a Marxist-Leninist government in a Warsaw Pact country during the events of 1989, and the only one that violently overthrew a country's government and executed its leader.

United Nations Operation in Somalia I (UNOSOM I), April - Dec 1992

UNISOM I was the first part of a UN sponsored effort to provide, facilitate, and secure humanitarian relief in Somalia, as well as to monitor the first UN-brokered ceasefire of the Somali Civil War conflict in the early 1990s.  The operation was established in April 1992 and ran until its duties were assumed by the Unified Task Force (UNITAF) mission in December 1992.  Following the dissolution of UNITAF in May 1993, the subsequent UN mission in Somalia was known as UNOSOM II, Dec 1992 to May 1993.

UNISOM Medal and Somalia Medal.

Canada's contribution to this mission was upward of 1,400 military personnel.  Canada's Sea King helicopter crews took part in reconnaissance and intelligence-gathering activities, frequently coming under fire while doing so. They performed many medical evacuations (being dubbed "the body snatchers" by the American forces who were also operating in the area) and performed airborne transport of cargo and personnel from the HMCS Preserver off the coast.  The Somalia medal recognises the participation of CF members that have taken part in the coalition mission in Somalia to help stabilise the country from civil war and help deliver humanitarian aid.

Canadian soldiers came under fire several times in Somalia.  On 18 June 1993, Warrant Officer Roch Lanteigne risked his life supplying ammunition to members of his platoon who were defending the new harbour facilities in Mogadishu, the country's capital. Under fire, he went from bunker to bunker three times to deliver ammunition to his platoon, only returning to safety when all the soldiers were re-supplied.  Naval Lieutenant Heather MacKinnon did much to help the people of Somalia during the UN operations there.  She operated a medical clinic and worked in hospitals and orphanages to help the victims of war and famine in Mogadishu, despite the continual risks of working in a war zone.

The peace support missions in Somalia were particularly difficult ones for the Canadian Armed Forces members serving on them as, in the end, they could only have a limited impact on the greater forces swirling around them.  Somalia was a lawless war zone and peace support troops had to engage in firefights to try to fulfill some of its missions.  The risks of serving in areas like Somalia are many – from hostile fire, land mines and driving accidents to exotic diseases, poisonous wildlife and the harsh and long-lasting psychological effects of serving under such arduous conditions.  During the peace efforts in Somalia, one Canadian Armed Forces member lost his life.

Sadly, serious charges had to be laid against a number of Canadian Forces personnel, that led came to be known as "the Somalia Affair in 1993.  A Somali teenager was beaten to death at the hands of two First Nations Canadian soldiers participating in the humanitarian efforts in Somalia.  The act was documented by photos, and brought to light internal problems in the Canadian Airborne Regiment (CAR).  A public inquiry was called, and led to the Somalia Inquiry citing problems in the leadership of the Canadian Forces.  The affair led to the disbanding of the CAR, greatly damaging the morale of the Canadian Forces, and marring the domestic and international reputation of Canadian soldiers.  It also led to the immediate reduction of Canadian military spending by nearly 25% from the time of the killing to the inquiry.

The final report of the inquiry was a striking attack on the procedures, support and leadership of the Canadian Forces and the Ministry of Defence.  Many of the top officers in the Canadian Forces were excoriated, including three separate Chiefs of the Defence Staff.  The CAR had been rushed into a war zone with inadequate preparation or legal support.  Enquiry observer retired Brigadier-General Dan Loomis noted that the operation had changed, in December 1992, "from a peacekeeping operation, where arms are used only in self-defence, to one where arms could be used proactively to achieve politico-military objectives ...  In short the Canadian Forces were being put on active service and sent to war (as defined by Chapter 7 of the UN Charter)."  Its deployment into "war" had never been debated in parliament and indeed the Canadian public had been led to believe by its government that the CAR was on a "peacekeeping" mission.  After the events the leaders of the Canadian Forces had been far more concerned with self-preservation than in trying to find the truth.  The inquiry report singled out Major-General Lewis MacKenzie as a major exception, as he took full responsibility for any errors he made.

The affair had a number of long-lasting effects.  While it is difficult to separate the effects of the affair on Canadian Forces morale from those of the concurrent defence spending cut, it did exacerbate feelings of distrust towards the media and politicians among many CF members.  At the same time, public trust in the Canadian Forces suffered and recruitment became more difficult. Public revulsion provided support for the sharp cuts to military spending introduced by the Liberal government.  Many of the report's comments, along with the sustained media criticism of the military, led to the hasty imposition of policies designed to ensure nothing similar to the Somalia Affair could happen again. Since the events in Somalia, Canada has become far less ready to participate in United Nations Peacekeeping efforts.  Once playing an important role in the majority of UN efforts, in subsequent years Canada simply provided indirect support.  Since 2001 spending on the Canadian Forces has gradually increased and accelerated as Canada played a major role in Afghanistan. Concurrently public perception of the Canadian Forces improved dramatically as well.  Other long-term effects on the Forces included the adoption of sensitivity training, including SHARP (Standard for Harassment and Racism Prevention) training, which became mandatory for every single member of the Forces, and was accompanied by a declaration of "zero tolerance" on racism and harassment of any kind, including hazing.  (Wikipedia)

End of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), 26 Dec 1991

The fall of the USSR on 26 Dec 1991 came as the result of internal disintegration which began in the late 1980s with growing unrest in the various constituent republics.  On that date, the Supreme Soviet voted the USSR out of existence.  The secession of the Baltic states (Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia) and the failure of a coup in Aug 1991,  when Soviet government and army elites tried to overthrow President Mikhail Gorbachev and stop the so-called "parade of sovereignties", led to the central government in Moscow completely losing any actual power.  In the following days, the Soviet republics proclaimed independence.  The Belovezha Accords were signed by the republics of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus on 8 Dec 1991, recognizing each other's independence and creating the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).  The remaining republics, with the exception of Georgia, joined the CIS on December 21, signing the Alma-Ata Protocol.

On 18 Nov 1990, Canada announced that its consul-general to Kiev would be Ukrainian-Canadian Nestor Gayowsky.

(Yousuf Karsh Photo)

President Mikhail Gorbachev, 1990.  

On 25 Dec 1991, Gorbachev resigned, declared his office extinct, and handed over its powers - including control of the nuclear launch codes, to Boris Yeltsin, the first President of the Russian Federation.  That evening at 7:32 p.m., the Soviet flag was lowered from the Kremlin for the last time and replaced with the historical Russian flag.  On the next day, the Declaration 142-? of the Supreme Soviet recognized self-governing independence for the Soviet republics, formally dissolving the Soviet Union.  Both the Revolutions of 1989 and the dissolution of the USSR marked the end of the Cold War.

Canadian Forces Europe (CFE), 1951-1993

CFE consisted of two formations in West Germany, No. 1 Air Division RCAF at Canadian Forces Base Baden-Soellingen, which later became 1 Canadian Air Group, and 4 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group (1957-1993), at Canadian Forces Base Lahr.   Both formations closed in 1993 with the end of the Cold War.

No. 1 Air Division, RCAF (1952-1967)

The division traces its origins to the activation of Headquarters No. 1 Air Division, Royal Canadian Air Force in Paris, France on 1 October 1952.  No. 1 Air Division headquarters was relocated to Metz, France in April 1953.  No. 1 Air Division was established to meet Canada's NATO air defence commitments in Europe.  It consisted of four wings of of three fighter squadrons each for a total of twelve squadrons located at four bases in France and West Germany.  These included RCAF Station Marville, No. 1 (F) Wing, and RCAF Station Grostenquin, No. 2 (F) Wing in France, RCAF Station Zweibrücken, No. 3 (F) Wing, and RCAF Station Baden-Soellingen, No. 4 (F) Wing in West Germany.

(DND Archives Photo, PC-2144)

Canadair CL-13B Sabre Mk. 6 (Serial No. 23757), one of 390 Sabre Mk. 6 (the last version, with Avro Orenda 14 engines) that served with the RCAF.  This Sabre wears the camouflage developed for all RCAF European-based operational aircraft.  The photo was taken while the aircraft belonged to No. 1 Overseas Ferry Unit (OFU) based at RCAF Station St. Hubert, Quebec, which was formed in 1953 to ferry Sabre fighters and Canadair CT-133 Silver Stars across the North Atlantic.

To meet NATO's air defence commitments during the Cold War, No. 1 Air Division Europe was formally constituted at Paris, France, on 1 Oct 1952, as an operational command of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Allied Command Europe.  1 Air Division HQ moved to Metz, France, on 13 Apr 1953, then to Lahr, Germany on 1 Apr 1967.

After RCAF left France it was reorganized and consolidated with Canada's other two services.  No. 1 Air Division was replaced by No. 1 Canadian Air Group (1 CAG) with its headquarters at CFB Lahr.  As an austerity measure, in 1968, No. 3 (F) Wing, Zweibrücken was closed and its two squadrons were moved to No. 1 (F) Wing in Lahr and No. 4 (F) Wing in Baden-Soellingen.  In 1969 the Canadian Forces in Europe were amalgamated into one command with two bases.  This resulted in the Canadian Army in northern Germany (Soest area) moving south to No. 1 (F) Wing and No. 4 (F) Wing.  No. 1 (F) Wing at CFB Lahr was closed and the Canadian Air Force in Europe was reduced in strength from six to three squadrons.  The remaining three squadrons were concentrated at CFB Baden-Soellingen, under 1 Canadian Air Group (1 CAG) effective on 29 June 1970.

(DND Photo)

1 CAG (1952-1993), in Europe.  McDonnell Douglas CF-188 Hornets above Hohenzollern Castle.

1 CAG continued until 1988, when Canada increased her commitment to NATO (three squadrons in the European theatre and two squadrons in Canada) and No. 1 Canadian Air Division stood-up again.  In 1975, some commands were dissolved (ADC, ATC, TC), and all air units were placed under a new environmental command called Air Command (AIRCOM).  With the fall of the Berlin Wall in Oct 1989 and the ensuing end of the Cold War, the government of Canada elected to withdraw the Canadian Forces elements stationed in Europe and closed CFB Lahr and CFB Baden-Soellingen in 1993.  No. 1 Canadian Air Division ceased flying operations on 1 January 1993.  In August 2011, Air Command reverted to its historic name of "Royal Canadian Air Force".

There are still more than 400 RCAF members plus their families living and working in various locations throughout Europe.  Canada's soldiers, sailors, air men and women serve in more than 10 different European nations, a handful of which reside in Stavanger, Norway and Izmir, Turkey, but with the majority in Germany, Belgium, Italy and The United Kingdom.  RCAF members in Europe continue to contribute daily to the operational effectiveness of the RCAF by furthering national interests within NATO and abroad.


4 CMBG badge

4 CMBG.  The Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group was a formation of the Canadian Army, then Mobile Command of the unified Canadian Forces.  It was part of the European formation known as Canadian Forces Europe.  The formation served as the main forward deployed land element of Canada's armed forces, and was stationed in West Germany from 1957 until it was disbanded in 1993.
In 1951, 27th Canadian Infantry Brigade (27 CIB) arrived in Europe, to be succeeded by the 1st Canadian Infantry Brigade in 1953, then 2 CIBG in 1955, then 4 CIBG in 1957.  In 1959, when 4 CIBG's tour was due to end, a change was made in the reinforcement policy for Germany.  Instead of whole brigades rotating every two years, the decision was made to keep 4 CIBG and its associated brigade units in place, instead rotating the major combat elements to Germany every three years.
The presence of the three mechanized infantry battalions led Canada's brigade in Germany to be renamed as 4 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group on 1 May 1968, three months after Canada's three separate armed forces were unified into the single Canadian Forces.

Around the same time, a review of Canada's foreign policy was announced by the Prime Minister, Pierre Trudeau, part of which involved an investigation into the role of 4 CMBG, which was the Canadian military's main overseas force.  The ultimate result of the investigation was the announcement by the Prime Minister, as part of an overall cut in defence spending, to reduce the Canadian military commitment in Europe by half.  4 CMBG would also be re-roled, rather than its attachment as an active part of BAOR, it would become a reserve attached to either the VII (US) Corps or II (GE) Corps, relocating to Lahr in Southern Germany.  Most notably, this downsizing and re-rolling led to the withdrawal of the tactical nuclear weapons capability. 4 CMBG operated a large force of Canadian tanks and armoured fighting vehicles and remained in place as one of NATO's Cold War tank formations.  When the 1st Canadian Division was reactivated in 1989, 4 CMBG became the forward deployed brigade of the division assigned to the Central Army Group.  The end of the Cold War brought the final draw down of Canada's military presence in Europe when the Brigade was disbanded in 1993.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4728086)

Leopard tank, Fall Ex, Sep 1977.

I had the extraordinary privilege of serving as the Deputy G2 (Intelligence Officer) working in the back of an M577 Command Post with 4 CMBG based at CFB Lahr, Germany from 1989 to 1992.

(Author Photo)

M577 Command Post on display at the New Brunswick Military History Museum (NBMHM), 5 Canadian Division Support Base (5 CDSB) Gagetown, New Brunswick.

Capt H.A. Skaarup in the 4 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group (4 CMBG), Command Post M577, Fallex 91.

Capt H.A. Skaarup briefing SACEUR General John R. Galvin and LGen George R. Joulwan  & BGen J.J.M.R. Gaudreau, 4 CMBG HQ, G2 Section, Fallex 91.

Our Command Post, Fallex 91. Tac Hel Officer, Capt Mike Rouleau (now MGen Rouleau), Log Officer, Capt Hal Skaarup.

We worked with a lot of Allied forces along the way, and while in Germany, would go on annual NATO exercises in the fall.  Some our training took place at the US forces installation at Hohenfels, where we were loaned a number of examples of former Soviet kit to familiarize our soldiers with the Warsaw Pact weapons and equipment.  This is me with a T-62 main battle tank that was one of those pieces of kit.

From 1956 to 1988, the Hohenfels Training Area was used by NATO forces consisting primarily of American, German, Canadian, and occasionally British and French forces.  In 1988, Hohenfels became the home of the Combat Maneuver Training Center (CMTC), the mission of which was to provide realistic combined arms training for the United States Army, Europe, and Seventh Army's maneuver battalion task forces in force-on-force exercises.

United Nations Iraq-Kuwait Observer Mission (UNIKOM), 1991

Operation RECORD was Canada's contribution to the United Nations Iraq-Kuwait Observer Mission (UNIKOM), which was created in 1991, after the Gulf War, to monitor the frontier between Iraq and Kuwait. UNIKOM forces oversaw the withdrawal of armed forces from the demilitarized zone (DMZ) between Iraq and Kuwait, and then focussed on the Khawr Abd Allah waterway and the DMZ to ensure compliance with the boundaries established by the Iraq-Kuwait Boundary Demarcation Committee in 1993.

Operating from headquarters in Umm Qasr, Iraq, UNIKOM comprises 195 United Nations Military Observers (UNMOs) from about 30 countries, a battalion-sized security force, a squadron of military engineers, and about 175 civilian personnel. At the time of its establishment, Canada contributed a senior staff officer to serve at UNIKOM headquarters, and a contingent of 300 Canadian Forces personnel primarily from 1 Combat Engineer Regiment based in Edmonton. CF engineers continued to deploy on Operation Record until March 1993, when the Canadian commitment was reduced to five UNMOs.  May 1991– 15 Aug 2001.


Mozambique, 1992

The United Mission for the verification of Human Rights in Guatemala (MINUGUA) was established on 13 October 1992 to monitor and verify the cease-fire, the separation and concentration of forces and their demobilization; and the collection, storage, and destruction of weapons. The Mission was also established to monitor and verify the complete withdrawal of foreign forces; to monitor and verify the disbanding of private and irregular armed groups; to authorize security arrangements for vital infrastructures; to provide security for the United Nations and other international activities in support of the peace process, especially in the corridors; to provide technical assistance and monitor the entire electoral process; to coordinate and monitor all humanitarian assistance operations—in particular those related to refugees, internally displaced persons, demobilized military personnel, and the affected local population—and to facilitate the implementation of the general peace agreement for Mozambique. Upon completion of the task, the Mission was terminated in January 1995.

United Mission for the verification of Human Rights in Guatemala (MINUGUA) Medal.

Canadian Armed Forces operations in Bosnia-Herzegovina, 1992-2010

The conflict in the Balkans began in 1991 after the dissolution and fragmentation of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.  As the conflict evolved over the next decade, the international community worked to forge stability and democracy in the Balkans through the United Nations (UN) and NATO.  The support of the CF was vital to these efforts.

From 1992 to 2010, some 40,000 Canadian military personnel served in the Balkan region, under difficult conditions, on peace support missions designed to protect the lives of civilians and allow for stabilization and reconstruction initiatives.  This contribution did not come without a price; 23 CF members lost their lives while deployed in the Balkans.

In accordance with the mandates of UN and NATO missions in the Balkan region over the years, tasks performed by the CF included complex military operations, monitoring de-mining efforts, weapons collection and destruction, monitoring and assisting with elections, and humanitarian assistance.

Through civil-military cooperation (CIMIC) efforts, hundreds of necessary infrastructure projects were completed in partnership with CF soldiers, the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and Bosnian communities.  These critical projects, such as building rural electrical systems, reconstructing schools and repairing water wells, septic systems, bridges and roads enabled the people of Bosnia-Herzegovina to return to their land and homes, re-establish local businesses and rebuild their lives. These CIMIC projects also helped instill within the local population a sense of civic responsibility.

In their personal time, many CF members also volunteered to participate in community projects to improve the quality of life of the local people.  In countless ways over the years, hundreds of CF members raised and donated thousands of dollars, and gave their time and skills to improve the lives of the people of Bosnia-Herzegovina.  From donating school supplies, toys and clothing for children to purchasing furnaces, bedding and first aid equipment for orphanages and hospitals, Canadians made notable contributions towards improving quality of life for the people of Bosnia-Herzegovina.

United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR), 1992-1995

UNPROFOR was the first UN peacekeeping force in Croatia and in Bosnia and Herzegovina during the Yugoslav Wars.  The force was formed in February 1992 and its mandate ended in March 1995, with the peacekeeping mission restructuring into three other forces (the UN Preventive Deployment Force (UNPREDEP) in Macedonia, and the UN Confidence Restoration Operation in Croatia (UNCRO) in Croatia, with restructured UNPROFOR operations ongoing in Bosnia and Herzegovina until their replacement by NATO and EU missions in December 1995).

In response to the growing security threat caused by the civil war in the former Yugoslavia, the UN Security Council authorized the creation of the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR) in 1992.  Its mission was to protect non-combatants and to ensure the security and demilitarization of UN protected areas in Croatia.  UNPROFOR was also responsible for ensuring the security and functioning of the airport at Sarajevo, delivering humanitarian assistance in Sarajevo and throughout Bosnia-Herzegovina, protecting convoys of released civilian detainees, monitoring the "no-fly" zone in Bosnia-Herzegovina and monitoring the border areas of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

Canada contributed CF members to UNPROFOR and United Nations Peace Forces Headquarters (UNPF) between April 1992 and December 1995 under the names Operation HARMONY and Operation CAVALIER.

UNPROFOR Medal, and UN Preventive Deployment Force (Macedonia) (UNPREDEP) Medal.

Operation HARMONY was the name given to the Canadian participation in UNPROFOR.  The initial Canadian contingent, which deployed in March and April 1992, was drawn primarily from the 4 CMBG based in Lahr, Germany.  It was based on troops of the Royal 22e Regiment, along with detachments from the Royal Canadian Regiment and 4 Combat Engineer Regiment.  The Canadians were among the best trained troops at UNPROFOR's disposal, making them a natural choice for this dangerous task.  They were equipped with M-113 APCs and carried a mix of M2 .50-cal machine-guns, C6 medium machine guns, C7 assault rifles, C9 light machine guns, and 84-mm Carl Gustav RCLs.  The attached Heavy Weapons Support Company brought 81-mm mortars and a specially fitted APC armed with TOW anti-tank guided missiles.

Operation Medak Pocket was a military operation undertaken by the Croatian Army between 9 – 17 September 1993, in which a salient reaching the south suburbs of Gospi?, in the south-central Lika region of Croatia then under the control of the self-proclaimed Republic of Serbian Krajina, was attacked by Croatian forces.  The pocket was named after the village of Medak.

The Croatian offensive temporarily succeeded in expelling rebel Serb forces from the pocket after several days of fighting.  However, the operation ended in controversy due to the skirmish with United Nations peacekeepers and accusations of serious Croatian war crimes against local Serb civilians.  Although the outcome of the battle against the Serbs was a tactical victory for the Croatians, it became a serious political liability for the Croatian government and international political pressure forced a withdrawal to the previous ceasefire lines.

According to UN and Canadian sources, UNPROFOR personnel and Croatian troops exchanged heavy fire, eventually resulting in the Canadian troops driving off a Croatian assault.  In Canada, the battle was considered to be one of the most severe battles fought by the Canadian Forces since the Korean War.

2 PPCLI led by LCol James Calvin, was sent from the north near Zagreb to the Krajinan region in Southern Croatia, near the Dalmatian Coast territory.  Croatian forces, under the pretext of not receiving authorization from Zagreb, decided to attack the Canadian forces who were moving in between the Serb and Croat forces.  When the Canadians began constructing a fortified position, the Croatians fired hundreds of artillery shells at them.  Four Canadians wounded in the initial artillery barrage.  The Canadians successfully used breaks in the shelling to repair and reinforce their positions.   As the night fell the Croatians attempted several flanking manoeuvres but the Canadians responded with fire against the Croatian infantry.  The French used 20-mm cannon fire to suppress Croatian heavy weapons.  The Croatian commander, Rahim Ademi, upon realizing that his forces could not complete their objectives, met with the Canadian commander and agreed to a ceasefire where his troops would withdraw by noon the next day.

UNPROFOR French Lieutenant-General Jean Cot, who was in charge of the operation and Calvin's superior officer, said:

"It was the most important force operation the UN conducted in the former Yugoslavia ... While we could not prevent the slaughter of the Serbs by the Croatians, including elderly people and children, we drove back to its start line a well-equipped Croatian battalion of some thousand men. Together, the Canadians and the French succeeded in breaking the Croatian lines, and with their weapons locked and loaded and ready, firing when necessary. They circled and disarmed an eighteen-soldier commando from the Croatian Special Forces who had penetrated by night into their location. They did everything I expected from them and showed what real soldiers can do."

The 2nd Battalion PPCLI Battle Group, was later awarded the Commander-in-Chief Unit Commendation for its actions in the Medak Pocket, the first Canadian unit ever presented this unit commendation.  The Canadian Forces recognized Lieutenant Tyrone Green, Gunner Scott Leblanc, and Warrant Officer William Johnson for bravery.  It also recognized Sergeant Rod Dearing for leadership, and awarded Lt.-Col. James Calvin the Meritorious Service Cross.

NATO Medal for Former Yugoslavia (NATO-FY); NATO Medal for Operations in the Balkans; NATO Medal for Kosovo (NATO-K).

The Dayton Accord and the Implementation Force (IFOR)

The General Framework Agreement for Peace, commonly known as the Dayton Peace Accord, was signed in December 1995. To ensure compliance with this agreement, the UN Security Council adopted a resolution which authorized the establishment of a multinational peace implementation force (IFOR). IFOR was sent to maintain cease-fire and inter-entity boundary lines. Its mission was also to foster a secure environment in which civilian organizations could carry out their responsibilities, which included the supervision of elections, the coordination of the return of refugees, economic recovery and monitoring and training of local police.  Without the assistance of IFOR, the peace agreements would not have endured, nor would the civilian aspects of the Dayton Peace Accord have been achieved.

Canadians in Bosnia-Herzegovina, IFOR

Canada contributed CF members to IFOR under the name Operation ALLIANCE. This operation had 1,047 personnel in a composite organization that consisted of a Canadian-led Multinational Brigade Headquarters, a reconnaissance squadron, a mechanized infantry company, an engineer squadron, as well as a Canadian National Command Element and National Support Element.

Canadians in Bosnia-Herzegovina, SFOR

In December of 1996, when the IFOR phase ended, a stabilization force (SFOR) was created in order to secure the environment for local authorities and international agencies. The troops of SFOR patrolled Bosnia-Herzegovina so that people could go about their daily business without fear. Part of a major international effort to help Bosnia-Herzegovina reshape itself as a democratic European nation, SFOR had a mandate to deter violence and provide the safe, secure environment needed for the consolidation of peace in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Its goal was to promote a climate in which the peace process could be sustained without the presence of NATO forces.

Canada's participation in SFOR, conducted under Operation PALLADIUM, began with approximately 1,200 personnel: an infantry battalion group with tactical helicopter support; an armoured reconnaissance squadron; an engineer squadron; an administrative company; a National Support Element; and a National Command Element.

In December of 2003, due to a vast improvement of the security situation in Bosnia, NATO announced the reduction in the number of SFOR troops from 12,000 to 7,000 by June 2004.  In keeping with NATO direction, Canada's military participation was similarly reduced to about 650 CF members in April 2004.

The Stabilisation Force in Bosnia and Herzegovina (SFOR) was a NATO-led multinational peacekeeping force deployed to Bosnia and Herzegovina after the Bosnian war.  Although SFOR was led by NATO, several non-NATO countries contributed troops.  It was replaced by EUFOR Opeeration ALTHEA in December 2004.  The stated mission of SFOR was to "deter hostilities and stabilize the peace, contribute to a secure environment by providing a continued military presence in the Area Of Responsibility (AOR), target and co-ordinate SFOR support to key areas including primary civil implementation organisations, and progress towards a lasting consolidation of peace, without further need for NATO-led forces in Bosnia and Herzegovina".

UNPROFOR was composed of nearly 39,000 personnel.  It was composed of troops from Argentina, Australia, Bangladesh, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Jordan, Kenya, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Poland, Portugal, the Russian Federation, Slovak Republic, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, the United Kingdom and the United States.  According to the UN, there were 167 fatalities amongst UNPROFOR personnel during the course of the force's mandate.  Of those who died, three were military observers, 159 were other military personnel, one was a member of the civilian police, two were international civilian staff and two were local staff.

Major-General Lewis MacKenzie (Canada) commanded Sector Sarajevo 1992.

SFOR was divided into three zones of operation:

Mostar MND(S) – Italian, Franco-German, Spanish; Banja Luka MND(W) – American, British, Canadian, Czech, Dutch.  The British code name for their activities in IFOR was Operation RESOLUTE and SFOR was Operation LODESTAR (to June 1998) and Operation PALATINE (from Jun 1998).  The Canadian mission was named Operation PALLADIUM (1996 to 2004).  Tuzla MND(N) – American, Turkish, Polish, Russian, Norwegian, Swedish, Danish.  (Some units had troops stationed outside the assigned zone).  The three Areas of Operation (AO) were known collectively as Multi-National Divisions (MND) until the end of 2002 where they were reduced in scope to Multi-National Brigades.

SFOR operated under peace enforcement, not peacekeeping, rules of engagement.  For example, it was cleared, in 1997, to neutralise Serb radio-television facilities.  During its mandate, SFOR arrested 29 individuals who were charged with war crimes.  Those arrested were transferred to the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in the Netherlands.

In February 1994, a Bosnia-Herzegovina Serb mortar attack on a Sarajevo market place killed 66 people and injured another 200.  (At least that is how the incident was reported, although it is suspected that the Bosniacs fired the mortar on themselves to gain international sympathy).  This act prompted NATO to threaten punitive bombing if the Serbs did not pull back from the city as directed.  It is considered the day the Bosniacs “acquired an Air Force (NATO).”  The Bosnia-Herzegovina Serbs then kidnapped UN Peacekeepers and used them as human shields to halt NATO air strikes.  (One of these human shields was one of our Arms Verification Inspectors, Capt Pat Rechner).

In May 1995, NATO launched two days of air strikes in an effort to break a Serb blockade of Sarajevo.  Bosnia-Herzegovina Serbs seized 400 UN peacekeepers and chained them to possible bombing targets to forestall further attacks.  The hostages were gradually released throughout May and June.  In July, the Bosnia-Herzegovina Serbs overran the UN safe areas of Srebrenica and Zepa and massacred most of the population and ethnically cleansed the rest.  In August 1995, NATO resumed air-strikes in response to the shelling of Sarajevo.  A ceasefire was established in October.  In November, negotiators for all sides in the Bosnia-Herzegovina conflict met at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, for a three-week planning session to hammer out a workable peace plan.  By December, British and American military personnel were arriving in Bosnia-Herzegovina to assist in the implementation of the agreement.  Canadian Intelligence personnel were part of the Peace Implementation Force (IFOR) and its follow on, SFOR, from the beginning.

OP Alliance involved the deployment of IFOR to Bosnia-Herzegovina as authorized by SACEUR from G Day (16 Dec 95).  IFOR’s forward HQ was located in Zagreb, with the ACE Reaction Corps (ARRC) HQ in the same location.  The USA, the UK and France controlled three major zones.  The 997-man Canadian Contingent initially came under the operational control of the Multi-National Division (MND) South West in the UK zone.  Canada also provided an observer with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), who was based in Sarajevo, and one Canadian Senior Staff Officer with UNMIBH, as well as 20 Canadian Forces personnel and 100 RCMP and civilian police from 1995 to 2000.

5 Canadian Multi-National Brigade (5 CAMNB) had its HQ located in Coralici (north of the town of Bihac), while the National Support Element (NSE) was located in the town of Kljuc.  One Canadian served as an UNMO in Montenegro, and another served in Macedonia.


In 1995, Croatia‘s President Tudjman allowed the UN peacekeeping mandate to lapse, and he renewed his region’s battles with the Croatian Serbs.  In August, Croatian Troops regained the territory in the Krajina region that had been lost to Croatian Serbs in 1991.  In 1996, Sarajevo was handed over to the Bosnia-Herzegovina-Croat Federation.  Public pressure forced the withdrawal of Radovan Karadzic, although he continued to direct political and criminal activities from his residence in Pale.  IFOR became SFOR (Stabilization Force) in Bosnia-Herzegovina-Herzegovina.

In 1996, within the Implementation Force (IFOR), there were approximately 52,000 Troops from NATO countries and other participating signatories. Their mandate was to enforce the military aspects of the Dayton Peace Accord.  At that time, Canada had about 1,000 military personnel in Bosnia-Herzegovina. 22 were located in Sarajevo. The Canadian National Intelligence Cell (CANIC) Sarajevo was established in Dec 95 by the DCDS.  The mission of the CANIC was to provide Intelligence support to NATO/IFOR through the HQ ARRC Main, the Commander Canadian Contingent in-theatre (CCIFOR), and to any national decision-making with regards to the Former Yugoslav Republic.

On 12 September 1996, I was a short-notice warning that I would be going to Bosnia-Herzegovina within a week.  On 13 September, my initial Bosnia-Herzegovina deployment was cancelled.  On 14 September, it was back on.  On 18 September, I visited the stores section of the Combat Training Centre (CTC) at CFB Gagetown and drew my flak vest, flak blanket and Kevlar helmet and kit for Bosnia-Herzegovina.  On 19 September, I was informed “for sure,” that Bosnia-Herzegovina was back on.  I collected a number of needle injections, did a bit of the pre-deployment administration, and flew to Kingston to take the pre-deployment course.  One of the people on the same course was LCol Peter Devlin, with whom the author would later cross paths again when he was Brigade Commander, KMNB, ISAF in Kabul, Afghanistan in 2003-2004.

The course was very well conducted, and things had gone well.  On the last day of the course, I walked over to the hospital to receive the last two big haemoglobin shots in my butt.  As I walked back into the school, the Chief Instructor handed me a FAX from the J3 Shop at NDHQ in Ottawa, informing me that the mission had been cancelled and that I could go home.  LCol Devlin gave me a lift to Toronto.  I flew back to Fredericton, and shortly afterwards, I was informed that I would most likely be going on a six-month deployment to the CANIC in June.  I was eventually deployed

I was mugged out of the Tactics School on 19 June 1997 and on 21 June headed overseas to serve as the Commanding Officer of the Canadian National Intelligence Centre (CANIC) with the Canadian Contingent of the NATO led Peace Stabilization Force (CC SFOR) in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina from 21 June to 30 December 1997.  The flights took me from Fredericton to Boston, then on to Frankfurt, Munich, and Zagreb, Croatia.  I checked in with the Canadian administrative centre at Pleso near Zagreb airfield, and spent the night in the Holiday Hotel in Zagreb - pretty much the standard in-clearance procedure for new arrivals in theatre.

The next morning I drew my Kevlar helmet, flak jacket, 9mm pistol, two magazines with ten rounds each, a comfortable shoulder holster, and was issued a rules of engagement (ROE) card.  On my way back to Zagreb airport I took note of the five Russian-made Mi-24 Hind helicopters on the tarmac.  While waiting for the Greek C-130 Hercules flight into Sarajevo, I observed a Russian-made Mi-17 Hip helicopter flying in.  This was the first time I had seen either of these helicopters after several years of teaching “Red Force” aircraft recognition to various Intelligence students.  I also took particular note of several well-marked minefields, sealed off with barbed wire along the pathway to the flight line.  

During the Hercules flight into Sarajevo, I spoke with Brigitte Duschene, a Canadian UNCF Area Information Officer for the FYR also based in Sarajevo.  She had remained in the city throughout the shooting war, and based on her experience and observations, firmly believed the upcoming elections in Bosnia-Herzegovina would not go ahead in September 1997.  Most SFOR personnel believed otherwise.

On arrival at Sarajevo’s heavily damaged airport, I was met by Maj Robert J. McCutcheon and Sgt Michael C. “Skippy” Wagner from 3 Int Coy in Halifax.  My kit was quickly loaded into the CANIC‘s Mitsubishi truck and we headed off to Camp Ilidza.  Although the city is surrounded by beautiful high mountains, the considerable battle damage done to the city during the war was heavily evident along the route to Ilidza.  French VAB and AMX-10RC armoured vehicles were stationed at close intervals nearby to provide security, along with a number of American HUMMVs and a variety of multi-national forces patrolling various key routes.  Although Sarajevo sits at a high elevation in the mountains, the atmosphere was very humid.  I was given a tour of the CANIC and met PO André Gibeault again, as well as my new 2IC, Capt David B. Owen, WO Byron K. Mackenzie and MCpl Ian Steel.

(DND Photo)

Canadian National Intelligence Centre (CANIC) crew, author as the CO, standing 2nd from the left, in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina.  All of us were serving, with the NATO-led Peace Stabilization Force (SFOR), in 1997.

A few Notes from my tour with SFOR:

Within the SFOR compound at Ilidza on the west end of the city, bunk space was extraordinarily difficult to come by. There was only enough space for a one-for-one exchange of personnel, four to a room. This meant all newcomers were bunked temporarily in the empty beds while other SFOR personnel were away or on leave. In the evening he met Turkish Officers who worked with the Turkish NIC (TUNIC). They had a very long chat about the Kurds, Bosniacs, Saladin, the Ottoman Empire and Turkey. The author spent his first night in Sarajevo in the top Bunk in a room in the Srbija Hotel, where four people were crammed in a room about the same bathroom-sized one the author had for just himself at the Ledra Palace in Cyprus.

There were 13 National Intelligence Centres (NICs) in the NIC village located inside a secure compound on the Western end of Sarajevo in the suburb of Ilidza. The Americans worked out of the USNIC in a central compound with lots of security guards and MPs (50-100 people). The British worked across from the Canadians in the UKNIC (11 pers), just behind the SFOR helicopter landing pad. The Turkish NIC (with 5 or 6 pers) was to the immediate right of the CANIC, not far from the Spanish NIC (six pers), the Swedish NIC (4 pers), the Italian NIC (up to 3 pers), the Norwegian NIC (1 here and 11 in the Norwegian garrison up North), the German NIC (about 13 people), the Danish NIC (six people), the French NIC (seven people) and the Dutch NIC (with 3 pers). There was also a group with the Deployed Security Force (DSF) made up with representatives from four nations (UK, US, FR & GE). The Swedes, Danes and Norwegians eventually combined to form a Scandinavian NIC called the “SCANIC” in January 1998. The Portuguese, Belgians and Romanians also began working with us to establish NICs within our intelligence community).

The author began making the rounds to meet the various organizations the CANIC worked in concert with to support the SFOR mission, beginning with MWO Penley with the Mapping Engineers. Rob and the author then drove down to the Holiday Inn which served as the press conference centre for most Public Affairs and media activities in Sarajevo), to meet with Ms Duschene. Brigitte had remained in the city throughout the fighting and carefully pointed out several battle positions and sniper sites she had seen in use during the war. The remains of war damage were evident everywhere in the city, with 20 and 30 story buildings burned out or partially gutted, although some of the lower stages were already under repair. The newspaper office seemed to be the most heavily damaged (and photographed), because it had been on the front line and took a lot of serious hits from tank rounds. Shell strikes could be seen on most of the buildings in the city.

The Int Majors returned to Camp Ilidza, which is essentially a five-hotel complex that used to have thermal baths (badly damaged now). The Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie stayed there the night before their assassination by Gavrilo Prinzip on 28 June 1914. The spot where Prinzip stood when he fired his “shot heard around the world,” had been marked with a plaque, but the markers in downtown Sarajevo were eradicated not long after the author’s arrival, because Prinzip had been a Serb. The citizens of Sarajevo, particularly the Bosniacs, were decidedly unhappy with the treatment and shelling meted out to them during the war by the Serbs. Helicopters constantly churned into the heliport alongside the CANIC with the first one the author observed being a Royal Navy Sea King helicopter peculiarly decked out with an arctic “zebra-stripe” winter camouflage pattern, since it had just returned from the Falkland Islands.

The author was introduced to Wendy Gilmore, from the Canadian Office of the High Representative (OHR). Wendy worked for the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) in Sarajevo. The OHR is actually senior to SFOR. The three had an interesting chat about the politics and personalities in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The two Majors went for a brief walk downtown, with the “Newbie” feeling odd being armed at the time, although it was normal for all military personnel there. There were lots of young people strolling around the pedestrian mall area, and there were many shops open at ground level. The war damage however, was evident everywhere, in the form of multiple mortar splashes in the pavement underfoot to the scores of burnt out stories and wings of buildings. Some repairs were underway, but it appeared that it was going to be a long slow recovery process before the city was restored to its pre-Olympic stature.

The author met with Canadian Public Affairs Officer (PAFFO), LCdr Denise LaViolette, who had driven up from Mostar where she worked with the headquarters of the French-led Multinational Division South East (MND (SE)), and then visited the UK NIC to meet their CO, Maj Andrew Perry. They also spoke with the GCHQ LO, Dewi Blythe. Both men were two of the finest one could know in theatre. In the evening the author was invited to visit the TUNIC where Capt Fikret Guzeller introduced the author to the CO of the TUNIC, Col Celic, and his NIC staff.

The HQ staff and senior NIC personnel attended a video tele-conference (VTC) each day at 0800 hrs. These conferences were chaired by a British officer, BGen Simon Munro (who had attended Toronto Staff College), and were a regular feature of the CANIC daily routine. The conference was primarily for the commanders of the three MNDs (N, SW & SE) with SFOR in Bosnia-Herzegovina. This was followed by several briefings covering the American-led Train and Equip (T & E) program (which a number of SFOR participants had some serious heartache with), which was also held in the Srbija Hotel. The author met US LCol Washington (J3 Coord), and later met with the CANUKUS Intelligence Community at the UKNIC. These became the most interesting and valuable meetings of the week. The author also met a British Analyst, Maj Julian Moir, who was wearing a uniform he acquired on a previous overseas tour in Cambodia. Julian wore a black patch over one eye, to cover an injury he had sustained after accidentally striking unexploded ordnance (UXO) during a training exercise in Suffield, Alberta. Maj Andrew Perry, CO of the UKNIC, and Maj Rick Gallegos, DCO of the USNIC also participated in these meetings. LCol Robert M. Parsons (who worked for CJ2 and had been designated as the Canadian Army G2) and a crew of 20 Int people from all three countries sat in on the verbal free-for-all. There were excellent and productive round-table discussions on every subject of intelligence interest concerning Bosnia-Herzegovina.

The two Majors visited the Canadian Embassy, where they met with Ms Kati Csaba, Deputy to the Ambassador. Kati had been in the city of Kiev, in the Ukraine prior to being posted to Sarajevo, and spoke some Russian as well. She introduced us to Ambassador Serge Marcoux. The three engaged in a long and useful chat on the history of the Balkans and on possible future developments in the area. They returned to the CANIC for an evening farewell BBQ party at the UKNIC for all the departing NIC crews rotating out. Capt Eric E. Gjos, the Int officer in Coralici dropped in to visit with his crew.

The author signed off the Board of Inquiry for the CO’s handover, and on 27 June Rob and the author signed the CANIC Change-of-Command certificates for the handover, and then went through some more indoctrination. At 1030 hours, Capt Eric E. Gjos gave an Int briefing to the collected SFOR staffs. His presentation went over very well and he made the Canadian Int Branch look good.

The CANIC team attended meetings at the Canadian Camp in Velika Kladusa on a monthly basis. The route averaged several hundred kilometres, and to maximise the opportunity, we drove a different route each time. During each of the trips we took along our helmets, flak jackets, pistols, kit-bags and lots of water. At the end of June, Sgt Michael C. Wagner drove Rob and the author in the Mitsubishi over to the site of the former Olympic ice-skating stadium at Zetra to pick up LCol Robert M. Parsons. This is the same Olympic stadium where Canada’s Gaetan Boucher won two gold medals in 1984. The stadium looked like it was nearly ready to collapse, although it was probably a lot like the Aitken Centre in Fredericton before it was shelled. Although we assessed that it would likely have to be torn down and rebuilt because of the amount of damage it had sustained, it was eventually repaired and SFOR was required to “move out.” The US Embassy, which was nearby, was very heavily sandbagged and protected with armoured Bradleys. The group drove out of the city at a hair-raising pace on what turned out to be a very hot day.

They passed by a fair number of German LUCHs and French VAB APCs along the way. (Earlier, one of the LUCHs crews had accidentally electrically discharged five 20mm rounds from the Rarden cannon mounted on his LUCHs into the vehicle ahead, killing two of his German colleagues). They continued on South West, passing an old Roman bridge just outside the Ilidza defensive compound. It is not far from one of the 25 lodges (this one had been destroyed) that Tito used to maintain for himself and his party officials. The scenery is fantastic with beautiful tree-lined valleys, but far too many damaged and ethnically cleansed (EC) homes were in evidence everywhere. (The UN reports the destroyed houses number over two million in BiH alone).

The group drove past the garrison town of Bradina where the author observed a pair of Sherman tanks, some home-made APCs and several tubes of artillery (105mm and 120mm) parked out front. At Jablanica they drove by a Ukrainian Airborne unit equipped with BTR-70s, guarding a bailey type bridge. Signs indicated that the French Foreign Legion (FFL) built the bridge. They drove past some major battle damage near Potruci and on to the city of Mostar. It is very heavily damaged, but the saddest view was of the remains of the beautiful old bridge the city of Mostar is famous for (Most means bridge), which formerly spanned the Neretva (Ar) River. The Mostar Bridge was built in 1566 by the Turks, but was destroyed by a Croat tank in 1993. There is a rough suspension bridge hanging in its place, and SFOR engineers have constructed other bridges over the river to restore the flow of traffic.

The crew crossed through the Bosnia-Herzegovina-Croatian border checkpoint, where they were waved through without any formality due to the SFOR sign on the truck. They had to remove and stow their pistols as they are now out of their jurisdiction in Croatia. They drove north along the Adriatic coast to the touristic city of Split, and then began the uphill climb through mountain roads passing bare and ragged looking white rock which rose several thousand feet up from the coast. They dropped off LCol Robert M. Parsons at Trogir airport. They followed the coastal route to Sibenik, noting several radars and an old round tower (possibly Second World War era) and forts sitting high in the hills. They then turned inland to Benkovac, passing countless numbers of wrecked and unoccupied homes. As far as the eye could see, all electricity lines were down and power poles had been destroyed. There were many villages with 20 homes where the locals had blown up seven or eight of their ethnically incorrect neighbours. Continuing overland to Obrovac, the crew observed entire villages with 50 to 60 homes abandoned or looted, all now ghost towns. Lots of them...far too many of them...and always more of them.

They skirted around a lake at Novigradska More, and then drove down a steep valley passing a strategically sited medieval castle ruin which had a long defensive wall running down to the river. Crossing the river, they followed seemingly endless hairpin switchbacks more than 5,000’ up over the mountains. They kept passing a great number of villages entirely abandoned. It is a grim sight when you come from the farm country the author calls home in New Brunswick and see the countless number of ancient farms not being tended, and no signs of life or livestock for very long distances. In over 100 kms along this route, there were only a few goats seen along the way. They drove down the other side of the mountain to Gracac, where there were many more damaged homes, although some seemed to be occupied. Half the village of Gracac seemed to be abandoned; the other half seemed to be barely functioning.

At Prijeboj they turned east and zig-zagged up the mountains to Bihac. They crossed the border at Petrovno-Selo, where the first visibly noticeable and instant change was the sight of well-cultivated, thoroughly well-cared for farms and fields bursting with ripe crops. It reminded the author of southern Germany in prime harvest season. There were new mosques and minarets everywhere. Every field seemed to be well tended and groomed, hay mows were stacked by hand, corn, wheat, wall-to-wall crops could be seen, and an enormous contrast of green compared to the route we had taken thus far. There was a very “middle-European” appearance to the place. At this point, however, the reality check set in, and all of us put our weapons back on.  

Bihac is a very prosperous and modern-looking town, somewhat like Lahr. The northern end of the city had suffered some battle damage, however. The town is taking care of itself and there was a lot of reconstruction evident on mosques and minarets with shiny new copper roofing. On the way up the hill towards Cazin the crew passed a local police checkpoint (likely unauthorized), and a man roasting what must have been a goat (the group at first thought it was a dog) on a spit.

Above Cazin they came upon a very well restored late medieval castle with three turrets and a long stone curtain wall. Its wooden roof had been restored, and the castle was strategically placed to overlook the valley near Coralici. They arrived at the Headquarters for the Canadian Contingent (CC) SFOR, a logistics camp at Velika Kladusa (VK), after covering 600 km of some very rough terrain. There were two Czech Mi-17 Hip helicopters in grey and white tiger stripe camouflage parked in the centre of the camp. The author met Col J.J. Selbie and his staff and then toured the excellent facilities they have set up in an old farm implement factory. Col Selbie gave Rob and the author CO’s rooms (a single CORIMEC trailer to ourselves). The author slept like a king.

Early the next morning, the author seized the opportunity to spend an hour inside one of the Mi-17 Hips chatting with the three-man crew of the Czech helicopter, followed by a 3½ hour staff meeting. Col Selbie presided over Rob’s and the author’s Change of Command of the CANIC. After supper it grew very hot and muggy. Rob and the author walked about 9 km (4.5 km each way) to an old castle with three towers including a very high one in stone with a restored wooden roof. They stopped to chat with a German speaking Bosnia-Herzegovina family on the way back, and learned that the family was afraid of what will happen when SFOR leaves.

The next day Rob was dropped off in Zagreb and the author and “Skippy” headed back to Sarajevo, driving along a long winding road along a green river valley, with lots of zig-zagging through the towns of Potok, Tounj, Josipdol, passing a lot of well-groomed farms. Josipdol was the first town they encountered with significant war damage that appeared to have involved an equal amount of ethnic cleansing. Seven homes were destroyed, 25 were still occupied. Along the coast they passed by an empty Croat Naval and Air Base with a destroyed Mi-8 Hip helicopter (Blue and White colours) occupying a deserted compound on the inland side.

They drove past more wrecked buildings just 2 km north of Krisac, and then on to Tribanj, right on the water, where they observed several homes that had been cleansed (dynamited) on the shore north and south of Paklenca. 8 or 9 homes had been destroyed in the village of Murvika, then a whole series of groups of homes and buildings were observed that had been demolished beyond salvage, with everything flattened. As they drove into Zadar, they passed by countless numbers of more wrecked homes. Many more had suffered light damage from shell fragments but new construction and repairs seemed to be underway. The shell fragments seemed to do less damage than the ethnic cleansing. Lights were blown out, and many buildings were burned out on the north edge of town. In several cases, huge amounts of explosives must have been required to flatten the large numbers of stone and concrete buildings in this area. Driving south towards Sibenik they passed a large Marina at Sukosan. A few buildings had artillery shell holes, but no demolition had taken place to finish them off. In Vodice there was a large observation post with flags flying and scaffolding to shore up its reconstruction on a hill on the north end of the town. Strangely, there was no apparent damage in Sibenik.

It was dusk as they reached the border. They continued back up the Neretva River valley and were back into Ilidza just past the 11 PM curfew. The Norwegian guard gave them a bit of “stick,” but eased up when he recognised Sgt Michael C. Wagner. (“Skippy” must have been the best-known Canadian in Bosnia-Herzegovina, because of his friendly demeanour and the fact that he said hi and spoke to everybody).

On 3 July the CANIC crew participated in an interesting CANUKUS “Three-eyes” meeting. They sent off some useful data to the Yugoslavia Crisis Cell (YCC), later renamed the Bosnia-Herzegovina Intelligence Cell (BIRT), in Ottawa. The author met the CO of the GENIC and the new CO of the USNIC. Cdr Larry Ash during the USNIC change of command ceremony. The author also spoke with the Hellenic NIC (Greek) and FRNIC COs, and later met LCol Møller-Peterson, the Danish Ops O and members of the ITNIC and SPNIC. The CANIC staff visited LCol Kjell Eriksson, the CO of the Swedish NIC (SWENIC) and had a “two-eyes” meeting with his staff.

At 0800 on 10 July 1997, the morning video teleconference at SFOR HQ in Sarajevo was very calm. At 0900 hours the CANIC Int staff attended the weekly three-eyes meeting in the UKNIC. During the discussions, a CH-147 Chinook helicopter lifted off from the helipad beside them, and then a Sikorsky CH-53 Super Stallion lifted off behind it. These are all heavy lift helicopters, and it was very unusual for them to be on the pad at the same time. Moments later, Cdr Ash, the USNIC CO was pulled from the meeting. Shortly afterwards, Capt Eric E. Gjos called from the Canadian Battle Group in Coralici to tell us “heads up - something is in the wind.”

About 0900 hours the SAS/SFOR moved to arrest Simo Drljaca, as Bosnia-Herzegovina Serb Person Indicted for War Crimes (PIFWC) and former police chief of Prijedor in the RS. He pulled out a pistol and shot one of the British soldiers in the leg during the arrest. They promptly ventilated him with about five rounds, killing him on the spot. At the same time, another PIFWC, hospital director Milan Kovacevic as well as Drljaca’s brother in law and Drljaca’s son, were also seized and taken to the Hague for trial. There was of course, a lot of associated intelligence activity. (Drljaca’s son and brother-in-law were released the next day).

The author visited the Canadian Embassy to meet with Kati Csaba and Guy Archambault for an interesting discussion. OHR/DFAIT representative Wendy Gilmore called, and so did UN information officer Brigitte Duschene. The senior OHR representative Mr Carlos Westendorp arrived just as the author exited the Srbija/SFOR HQ. There were a lot of plain-clothes security personnel around, all wearing earphones and carrying heavy weapons. This was the largest turnout of interested participants the author had seen to date for the daily 17:30 hours Joint Operations Centre (JOC) conference. The mood in the UK/US community was very upbeat (unlike the 36 other nations in SFOR that felt they had been left out of the loop).
On 8 July members of the CANIC crew headed off north to Doboj in heavy rain, intending to loop over to visit the US camp at Tuzla. They drove the SFOR routes Finch, Dove, Skoda and Lada, 79 km to Zenica were there was very heavy damage to the factories and train stations visible along the way, along with dozens of shattered villages north of Sarajevo. A beautiful river coursed along the route between very steep hill sides and heavily wooded valley walls and with the roads in fairly good shape. Every village had its share of ethnically cleansed homes, most of which appear to have been destroyed by their own neighbours. The large autobahn bridge at Visoko was blown up by the locals during the Canadian occupation of the town in 1993. There is a bailey bridge over the river and a large detour around it, but the road is good beyond it for highway travel. A German LUCHs guarded the bridge crossing site.

Although Canada had occupied the town of Visoko during the war, there were no Canadians based there in 1997. The bulk of the 1,300 Canadian forces in Bosnia-Herzegovina were located in Coralici and Velika Kladusa, with about 50 personnel in the Sarajevo area, including the six in the CANIC. A man walking his cow or goat is a very common sight here. There are so many uncharted minefields that livestock must be herded carefully to keep them from being blown to pieces. In the Bosnia-Herzegovina Muslim areas, the Serbs Orthodox Christians have mostly been cleansed, although some of the victims may have been Catholic Croats. Serb homes have a single two sided peak roof over them, Bosnia-Herzegovina homes have four-sided square roofs, and Croat homes have a small gable on each end of a peaked roof, much like Black Forest homes. You could quickly tell who the victims were and therefore who were the most likely perpetrators by the shape of the damaged and destroyed homes.

During the trip the crew noticed a Czech SFOR Mi-17 Hip flying low through the wet weather over the river valley beside them – quite a site when one remembers all those recognition lectures every Int person has had. The crew observed a lot of damage in the Croatian pocket at Maglaj, and clear evidence of heavy ethnic cleansing and shellfire damage on the south edge of the city as well. They passed by a number of SFOR groups of vehicles escorting ARBiH Troops through the area, as well as many more signs of ethnic cleansing. There was a large resort style hotel completely burned out sited on the north side of town. Dutch Troops were examining an ARBiH truck near Trgvina. Just south of Doboj they came upon two destroyed T-55 tanks and a wrecked BVP M-60 APC. The wrecked tanks and APCs are technically in no-man’s land, between the two factions.
The Danes and the Dutch manned the checkpoint at the Bailey bridge in a heavily defended SFOR position on the internal unofficial border between the Federation and the RS. There was a lot of shell damage apparent at Rasadnik. They passed by a Danish SFOR Camp just south of Doboj and another one run by Finland. The scenes of damage gradually disappeared as they crossed the river and headed east to Tuzla on a yellow SFOR route.

The crew pulled into the United Nations International Police Task Force (UNIPTF) HQ to meet RCMP Inspector Chris Bothe. He supervised 500 monitors in the Tuzla area, plus anther 259 in Brcko. His IPTF officers were from 28 different countries (although only a few of them served in SFOR). The CANIC staff had a good chat with Chris and he introduced them to his Russian deputies and some members of the force from Nepal. After a brief stop at the US Task Force Eagle base, they headed south, encountering Russians, Swedes, Turks, Norwegians, Brits and American SFOR Troops everywhere. Following Ostrich route they headed west to Zivinice, which had a very narrow and extremely winding route back, with major parts of it under construction. They continued on through a very narrow valley with steep sides and the road cut into the mountain walls and hard rock above the river. They continued passing a number of ethnically cleansed restaurants and homes high in the mountains.
From Kladanj, a lumber mill town, they continued back up more winding routes past some seriously damaged buildings, where everything seemed to have been demolished in small communities of a dozen or so homes. All of the single dwellings and restaurants every few km on the winding roads had been destroyed. The letters “SDA” were spray painted on many of the wrecked buildings. The crew estimated that 50% of the buildings they saw along this route had been destroyed as they neared the Stupcanica lumberyard. Heavier damage was sustained by the factories and apartments in Olivo.

Signs everywhere indicated that Brcko is “the key.” It is a small town on the Sava river of importance to all factions, and was the most contested site in Bosnia-Herzegovina up to that time. Whoever gets control of it has serious economic power, and all three sides want it, hence the continuing tension in the area. There were lots of large but totally devastated farms in view on the northern edge of Ivanica. GDS and SDA signs have been spray painted on the wrecked buildings. The CANIC crew crossed over a bailey bridge dubbed “Edith Bridge” just before driving into Srednije. They followed very steep mountain roads to Semizovac, where they observed several Egyptian APCs and soldiers guarding a railway station checkpoint. There were lots more wrecked buildings all the way down the mountain road to Sarajevo.

On a return trip to VK, they passed through Klenovic, and found evidence of severe ethnic cleansing, with lots of damage everywhere. There were dozens of wrecked farms, and no occupants could be seen, although there were a few fresh haystacks (very few). It was the same in Bravsko. Ethnic cleansing to the nth degree. They drove past more large open fields and pastures, rolling foothills with small farms, all trashed. Passed a crashed DC-3 Dakota that appears to have been mounted on concrete pylons to preserve it as a memorial out in the middle of nowhere. Apparently there is (or was) an airstrip nearby that had been heavily fought over during the war. It sits in a barren area just south of Vtroce. The town of Ripoc appears to be more than 90% destroyed due to both battle and ethnic cleansing. The CANIC crew pulled into the city of Bihac. They passed by an M53/59 twin 30mm SPAAG (Czech & Yugo made), burned out on the edge of the road just south of Ripoc.

The crew continued on to the Canadian camp at Coralici, with its gate on the West side of the road and well marked. The gate guard on duty had been in 2 Commando when the author was in Cyprus in 1986-87. The crew visited Capt Bob Martyn, the Battle Group Int Officer. He had a nine person Int Section (including Private Hereford from 6 Int Coy in Edmonton. The LdSH and the PPCLI make up the bulk of the battle group in Coralici. The crew continued on to VK where they met their new CO (Admin), Col M.D. Capstick. It had taken roughly eight and a half hours of mountain driving to cover the 359 km between Sarajevo and VK.

The next morning the CANIC crew drove 2-3 km into Croatia and north to Mihojska. Here one could see homes where people had returned and repaired their homes with new glass (a figure S is marked on the glass in soap), only to have it smashed out again, probably by the same neighbours who did it in the first place. The message was very clear, they don’t want these people to move back. They drove south to Jovov, Dunjak, and Donja Busovaca and then looped back to Krstinja. Everywhere you looked there were shot up farms. They noticed that the gravestones of Serbs had been shot up with pistol rounds. The Croat and Bosnia-Herzegovina ethnic cleansing of Serbs and their homes was just as intense here as what was observed on the other side. The crew headed back to VK, and in the afternoon, the Canadian Ambassador, Serge Marcoux, visited the camp and addressed the conference. Maj Richard Round gave a really good briefing on the OSCE and the September elections coming up. The crew headed back to camp (it was not a place one would really want to spend a lot of time in, let alone six months. We were glad to be working in Sarajevo).

The desolation and destruction throughout the country makes one think of the scorched earth policy in place during Napoleonic times. In many cases, every building, no matter how remotely situated, had been destroyed. The crew found a UNIPTF station in Lusci Patanka sited in a town that was completely wrecked. There were people carrying out repairs in the towns of Fnjtovici and Kamengrad (about 50% destroyed). They passed by a number of British AS-90 155mm self-propelled guns in an SFOR camp at or near Sanski Most (“Most” means bridge). Then they came upon a Czech recce platoon (the real thing), with three BMP-2 APCs and supporting SSVs, just like what Int staff have been teaching from the books on Fantasian and Generic Enemy forces.

The road running into Kljuc on Bluebird route was very rough. They found a lot of damage in Komar, and a patrol of Dutch M-113s on the route into Travnik. Here there were lots of buildings undergoing repairs and a good road to Kakanj. They took a major detour through Visoko. The main highway bridge here had been blown down during the war and the site was still causing a major detour, although SFOR engineers were working on cutting the mess up and putting a bailey type bridge across the river. The crew arrived back into Sarajevo after a 400 km return trip in eight hours.

On 30 Jul 97, there was a US four-star change of command ceremony, with Gen Crouch handing over the command of SFOR to Gen Eric K. Shinseki. Gen Wesley K. Clark from SACEUR presided over the ceremony. Just before the ceremony, the author ran into Gen William W. Crouch and spoke briefly with him about the situation in theatre. The author also spoke with the SFOR Political Advisor, Ms Mette Nielsen about Madame Plavsic, one of the Serb leaders invited to the ceremony but who didn’t show up. The Generals in charge of each of the three MNDs also changed command, with MGen LeChatelier handing over to MGen Christian Delanghe in MND SE, MGen Montgomery C. Meigs handing over to MGen David L. Grange in MND N, and MGen Ramsay taking over in MND SW.

On 11 Aug 97, a CANIC Brainstorming session was held for all NICs. This was the first regular meeting with members of the CANIC, NONIC, TUNIC, SWENIC, and UKNIC (GCHQ). A second meeting for the CANIC, ITNIC, NLNIC, SPNIC and CO UKNIC took place in the afternoon. The author had dubbed these meetings think-tank sessions, and advised all participants to bring an argument. They also had to bring a flak jacket if they felt that their particular opinion was the only correct one, since each participant had to leave his rank and flag at the door. Also, everyone had to have a cup of coffee if they came in (the theory being it is hard to be disgruntled with a cup of coffee in your hand). Major disagreements were to be taken out to the penalty box (an outdoor shed roofed over and wired with a stereo system above the bench built by the CANIC crew). The Germans dubbed the meetings “brainstorming” sessions, and the name stuck.

In August the crew visited HQ MND SE at Camp Ortijes on the east side of the Neretva river. The French, Spanish, Moroccans, Germans and three Canadians occupy this Camp. They also visited the AMIB team in Camp Ortijes.  On another trip they drove north to Tuzla and on into the Serb Republic. At the IEBL they came upon the infamous “Arizona Market” with a proliferation of vendors selling watermelon, cassette tapes, car parts and just about anything legal or illegal one could think of on the regular as well as the black market in this “no-man’s land” between the Federation and the RS. Just past the Arizona market, the devastation began again. The farms are not worked for about four km, then suddenly the view changes and there are fields of corn, ploughed fields and freshly painted Serb homes, although they were still on Arizona route. They turned and drove east to Brcko on Texas route. Brcko is a beautiful little town on the Sava River, and the site of the most controversy between the three factions in Bosnia-Herzegovina. It is locked up tight by the US, and as they entered the shot up area of the city, a Blackhawk helicopter constantly hovered overhead. (Three days later the RS organized a “spontaneous” demonstration that led to the burning of 40 vehicles belonging to members of the IPTF in Brcko).

Heading south, the crew stopped to eat in a restaurant at Vlasenica. The owner was reluctant to let armed soldiers in (“it is bad for business,” he explained in German), but he agreed to let them eat outdoors where he served them “deer medallions.” As they ate, they noticed some very interested visitors inspecting their Mitsubishi. In fact, too many and too often the same swarthy individuals for their comfort. They paid their bill and hauled freight up the mountains, driving back to Sarajevo in the dark via the Pale overpass. An Italian Centauro (an eight wheeled AFV armed with a 105mm gun) and an American convoy passed them on the way, both very reassuring).

On 28 Aug 97, Brcko exploded in the morning. Organized “demonstrators” were bussed in by the Pale faction of the RS to harass and intimidate the UN IPTF. SFOR does not supposed to fight unarmed civilians. Civil matters are handled by the police. These demonstrators however, destroyed police cars at the station, then “cleansed” the station itself, then walked to the specific homes of the IPTF and burned their vehicles there as well. At least 40 were torched during the demonstration. The Canadian RCMP representative, Duncan, was one of the few who stayed to monitor the situation in the city throughout the crisis. The regular three-eyes meeting was interesting. A long period of writing reports followed. By about 3 PM the show was over, and the spontaneous demonstrators in Brcko were paid and driven back to their homes in time for supper.

At the evening video-teleconference (VTC), BGen Simon Munro tried to lighten up the atmosphere by bemoaning the lack of music. The author went back and got the CANIC miniature tape recorder and taped a bit of “Monty Python” music to have for the next morning’s VTC. The next morning, at the 0800 VTC he waited until the Brigadier marched in and as he came by he hit the tape. The Italian beside him jumped away to distance himself from the author, but the Brigadier’s aide, a Scottish major flashed him a big grin and a thumbs up. The Brigadier hollered, “that’s not my regimental march,” but then smiled and sat down. (The Scottish major later went one better, and did the same thing only with the correct march. The author spent weeks trying to find a real piper to see if he could one up him again, but both were posted out. There is no point in letting everyone get bored).

The crew had a very good all-NICs meeting at 0930. The author had a very long chat with the Turkish NIC CO, Col Celik. Col Celic took out a red-ribboned gold medal that his father had earned during the Turkish war of Independence during the 1920’s. As a serving member of the Turkish Army, this was the one day he is permitted to wear it on his father’s behalf. He invited the author as his guest to the Turkish Victory Day celebration at the Army Hall in downtown Sarajevo. He picked the author up in his land rover and then drove to the hall with flags flying. The guests observed a promotion ceremony for three Turkish officers, two of whom the author knew. One was promoted to LCol and one to Maj. The recipients were bussed on both cheeks in the same manner as the French officers. Very interesting evening.

On 30 Aug 97, WO Byron K. Mackenzie and the author headed up Finch route to Visoko en route to Banja Luka and VK. They still had to detour around the destroyed bridge near the former Canadian camp at Visoko, but there was a lot of reconstruction underway. They crossed the IEBL into the RS on good roads with little traffic.

Banja Luka is a city with lots of trees lining the streets, and no visible damage. With lots of shops and large department stores, it looked like a thriving city. (How did it escape the war?). They passed by the parliament buildings, which were guarded by the only soldiers in the RS permitted by SFOR to carry rifles - very unusual. They drove north to the UNIPTF camp and then west to the MND SE HQ camp where they stopped for lunch at British PX restaurant called Echos. A large VRS military camp was sited very close to the UN camp and not far from the SFOR HQ. From MND SE HQ, they headed straight west to Prijedor.
As they neared the Croatian border, the ethnic cleansing became evident again with a vengeance. By the time they hit the town of Osaka situated on a beautiful river, the entire area appeared to have been smashed. The bridge had been blown and a bailey bridge had taken its place. The heavy damage appeared to be due to shellfire, with the mosque minarets blown off, although parts of the town appeared to be undergoing repairs. They followed the river to the RS border, marked by a black market for cars (most of which were likely stolen as the licence plates represented nearly every member of the EC). They made a brief stop At the Canadian camp in Coralici to visit Capt Rob Martyn and his Int staff, and then headed on up to Velika Kladusa. That evening in camp, we learned that Diana Princess of Wales was killed in a car crash in Paris, when the Mercedes she was being driven in hit a concrete barrier at 120 kph. They were in a tunnel in Paris being pursued by Paparazzi when it happened about midnight. What a waste.

The following day the crew headed south to Coralici and dropped in on Capt R.B. Martyn for a longer visit. Arrangements were made to bring a few of his Int Ops down to Sarajevo for some OJT (and a change). They drove on to Bihac and circled through the town on the way. There was a very impressive castle on a hill just south of Bihac, but it was obscured by villages that had suffered some very heavy ethnic cleansing. They continued south on Bluebird route to Bosanski Petrovac, passing long expanses of abandoned, trashed and neglected farms in large open plains. They also passed a wrecked DC-3 Dakota memorial near Vitoce, then turned south on Emu route and drove up over the mountains towards the town of Drvar. On the way they passed a large stand of tees planted on a bare hill spelling out Tito’s name. They drove up past a ski resort that had serious damage and the Croatian flag flying everywhere, and then down the other side of the mountain into Tito Drvar.

The town had suffered a lot of damage, but it was decked out with a lot of political posters. The town falls under the Canadian Area of Operations (AOR) and is continuously bubbling along with violent demonstrations and confrontations. There were a good number of HVO troops everywhere. They continued on North to Zablace and got back on Bluebird route, heading East to Mrkonjic Grad, then South to Jezero and on to Vulture route to Sipovo. They stopped for break at the UK SFOR base in Sipovo (King’s Royal Hussars equipped with Scimitars).

They drove back up into the mountains again and headed south on Parrot route, noting a major change in the terrain as they ascended. The saw lots of stone and thicket walls and fences along the way, until they arrived at what appeared to be a ghost town on the IEBL, and then a wide bare plain at 5,000’ stretching out to the mountains on the far horizon. It was hard to believe they were in the same country. Right in the middle of the most remote stretch of plain with every house and farm within 50 km destroyed, they came upon “Ice Station Zebra”, a former Canadian Checkpoint. It was manned by Malaysians, and there could not have been a more remote or bleak Observation Post (OP) in the country (although some of the Czech camps come close). They drove on into the severely damaged town of Kupres and back into Federation territory with Croatian flags flying everywhere (not the new approved Federation flag, or even the Bosnia-Herzegovina flag). They headed North on Gull route to Donji Vakuf, where British engineers were putting a new bailey bridge across the river. They zig-zagged again over the high volcanic peaks with a fine sunset over the mountains behind them, taking the main route back into Sarajevo.
While on a four day pass from his tour of duty with SFOR in Sarajevo, the author took a German Transall transport aircraft flight to Ramstein AFB, Germany, where he rented a car and explored familiar parts of Germany, heading southeast to see what had changed since the closure of CFE. He visited the former Canadian base at Baden-Söellingen and discovered that it was now a commercial airpark. The old green air traffic control tower that he used to skirt while coming in to land with his parachute had been painted a bright white and is used for the commercial airport on site. The remainder of the base is not well used and much of it was locked up. He drove a very familiar autobahn route south to Lahr, pulling into the former Canadian base, which sat under the Schutterlindenburg.

The airport theatre is now an indoor-outdoor skate-board centre. The old fire hall had been turned into a Gasthaus style No 2 Royal Canadian Legion. The only airplane on the base was a two-seat MiG-15 parked down in the old Service Battalion lines. The NBCW building is now the Video 8 Discotek. The green Catholic church is now cream coloured and is called the Flugplatz Kirke. Lahr itself does not appear to have changed much. He drove by 101 Schwarzwald Strasse (where the author and his family lived from 1989-92), the Bank of Montreal (now a Turkish Market), and the former PMQ area (where the author lived from 1981-83). The Kaserne where the Brigade Int Section and the Int Section at HQ CFE were located now had the appearance of a tumbleweed-like ghost town, very sad. The Black Forest Officer’s Mess (BFOM) was now painted white and is used as a hotel for family members visiting people in the hospital, which is well used and a going concern.

The author drove up to the castle ruins of Hohengeroldseck, which hasn’t changed much since it was burned by the French in 1689, then back through Lahr, looping around some of the streets, very familiar and much the same as when the Canadians left it. He took the autobahn back to Baden-Baden, and while downtown, went for a two hour soak in the Caracalla baths, thoroughly enjoying every second of it. He spent the night in the Hotel Schwann near the base in Baden- Söellingen after a brief walk around town.

In November the CANIC crew drove down the Neretva River valley to visit MND SE HQ in Mostar, with plans to travel over the mountains to visit the pilgrimage town of Medugorje. The author went into the cathedral with Sgt Free, and walked around to view the mountains from the back in very heavy rain, thunder and lightning. There was an unusual “feeling” to the place. Not long afterwards, WO J.L.A. Martineau had a car smash his vehicle mirror just beside the shop the crew was in, attracting their attention (another unusual coincidence). He took the crew up into the mountains where his AMIB unit is located. The site overlooks Medugorje, and is not far from where six children believe they were (and continue to be) visited by an apparition of the Virgin Mary. It is quite a remarkable place, with lots of Italian soldiers visiting the site. The crew drove on down to Caplina with its fortified monastery and then back into Mostar, then headed back up the Neretva valley passing the battlefields and heavy damage one never gets used to seeing.

On 15 Nov 97 the CANIC staff set off on a trip to Trebinje. It was cloudy with a few rays of sunlight and fog. Sgt Mario Paris was at the wheel of the Mitsubishi, and Sgt Chris W. Free had his rifle ready. They drove past Butmir downhill along a broad beautiful mountain and river gorge. They passed in and out of the IEBL and through the Gorazde corridor, noting several TD type tanks in the RS at Brod. They crossed a bailey bridge laid alongside the large concrete ruins of the bridge at Brod. The RS town of Trnovo seemed to be very badly shot up, but there were a large number of homes partly repaired and smoke coming out of their chimneys. They drove up through thick fog high into the mountains, and then crossed a bailey bridge from route Tuna to route Viper heading south. On the way they met a “professional” VRS (Serb) soldier while pausing to change drivers. There were a few patches of sun, and then the crew had a near miss with a bulldozer blade on a flatbed passing too close on a narrow road along the Drina River. They drove past snow covered mountains on the route near Suhe, then passed by a very unusual memorial at Tjentiste. The memorial looked like some kind of ski-lift or resort marker.

They had a beautiful drive high up in the mountains. The sun came out at Cemerno, lighting up the snow and fog-capped peaks. A cold but clear beautiful blue sky opened up over them as they crossed over the top of the mountains at Vrba. They zig-zagged past the Motel Klinje and drove down to Gacko with its large conical coal-fired power plant. They passed by a Spanish SFOR camp on the hill above the eastern edge of Gacko. Following along a low flood plain, they came off the mountain roads in very bright sunshine. Cattle, pigs and sheep were being dressed by local farmers. Troops manning Spanish APCs were observing an RS political rally in Avtovac. They followed a straight route (very unusual in Bosnia-Herzegovina) along low scrub and rock, then found themselves on a moderately winding route to the large town of Biljeca. This town had a fair sized VRS Army base with several museum pieces on display, including an RPU-32, an old M-46 gun and a BTR-50 CP intact in the camp on the south edge of the town. There was a large old stone fort overlooking the reservoir on the south side of the town. There were a lot of low stone walls and old stone buildings partially submerged in the reservoir. They drove into the beautiful town of Trebinje with a very fine old multiple-arched stone bridge, and then on through the IEBL, stopping to take pictures of a badly shot-up BVP-M-80 APC. This was a very rough road, and they paused to examine it before proceeding. Just then, an Italian Carabinieri vehicle arrived, and after a brief chat, escorted them through and guided them down to the road to Dubrovnik high above the Adriatic coast. The mountain ride was incredible, and the view of the Adriatic sea leaped up at them as they crested the last mountain. What a change from wet and snowy Sarajevo. (The route they took from Sarajevo to Broad to Trebinje to Dubrovnik was 286 km. Their return route via Mostar would be 274 km).

Author and Sgt Chris Free beside the wreckage of a BVP-M-80 APC north of Dubrovnik.

The following day they continued up the North West Coast , then North on Pacman route, stopping into MND SE HQ and stopping for lunch in Mostar. They spoke with Capt Andrew G. Morrison, (a 3 Int Coy officer serving with the AMIB Det in Medugorje and LCdr Denise LaViolette, (Canadian PAFFO in Mostar). They also contacted the CANIC for a SITREP. It seems that the Serbs had been acting up and tried to take over the Mount Trebevic radio tower (1629m high). Butmir was also being blockaded (it figures, leave for one day and the dust hits the fan).

On 16 Dec 97, Capt Bob Martyn and Sgt Ollia Kitash from the LdSH BG came down to Sarajevo for a visit from Coralici. The CANIC crew took them for a tour of the battle damage in Sarajevo under a heavy snowfall, and then went up to the Turkish fort and out to Butmir.

On 20 Dec 97, the CANIC crew set out on a mission to Bugojno. They checked out two Galeb aircraft and an old Dragonfly helicopter (museum pieces) at the ARBiH Camp at Pazaroc. Continuing on to Tarcin, under a bright double rainbow, with the weather alternating wet and then turning to heavy rain for the rest of the day. An SFOR BRDM-2 (Ukrainian) guarded the tunnel exit. They passed by a pair of TD tanks at Bradina, plus a home-made APC and several small AT guns. There were quite a few Federation Troops on parade. It rained heavily as they drove over to view a wrecked the Second World War memorial bridge with several small trains parked nearby. This site is one of Tito’s memorials to a successful partisan breakout at Jablanica. They continued on Opal route North West. They drove by a big dam on the Rama River just six km west of Jablanica, then ran into more rain and fog all the way up into the mountains, through the town of Gracac and up to the Croat town of Prozor. They made a brief stop for lunch at the King’s Royal Border Regiment Camp (MND SW) in Gorni Vakuf. There was very heavy battle damage throughout the area. They continued on to Bugojno to view the munitions factory which was the object of the trip, which was 162 km each way. It poured rain all the way down the mountain. They arrived back in Sarajevo by 1700 hours.

On 26 Dec 97, the author spent his last morning in Sarajevo. His first stop was to see the CJ2, BGen Isler. The General surprised the author by presenting him with an NSA bronze coin. Most of his colleagues in the other NICs had already rotated out. He dropped in to say farewell to the residents of the USNIC, DANIC, GENIC, NLNIC, the FRNIC, the Hellenic NIC, the ITNIC, the SWENIC, the SPNIC and the TUNIC. The CO of the TUNIC paraded all six personnel, Col, LCol, 2 Capts, 2 Sgts, to say goodbye. The author presented them with a book on the province of New Brunswick to keep as a souvenir, then visited the UKNIC and finally stopped at the CANIC. Capt Al Haywood had organized the crew and turned them out on parade, a very decent and greatly appreciated gesture. There were many more thank yous and goodbyes. They were an excellent crew to work with. Maj Rick Mader would be arriving with a good team waiting for him.

They headed north with Sgt Mario Paris driving and accompanied by Maj Louis Garneau (PAFFO) en route to Zagreb at 09:30 hours, just as the fog began to lift. The huge blown down bridge at Visoko had almost been restored. They passed through a Turkish checkpoint guarded by modified M-113 and BTR-80 APCs near Zenica. The crew drove along a very long route lined with wrecked and destroyed homes, some battle damaged, most ethnically cleansed, all the way north to Bosanski Brod, passing by a horse-drawn funeral cortege en route. The destruction just got worse, and the amount of it, even at this late date, proved very depressing to view. They crossed a checkpoint manned by Americans on the river to Slovanski Broad on the Croatian side.
They continued along highway 180 to Zagreb, noting an immense change in the villages and the scenery along the way. They were back in central Europe. They zig-zagged through the 900-year old but very modern city of Zagreb to the Holiday Hotel. They had to stay in an executive suite with its own living room and two bathrooms (oh dear). They enjoyed a great meal in the hotel. The last few days of late nights caught up with them and all zonked out, although there was a lot of “pre-New Year’s Eve” gunfire outside. The author repacked some of his kit, then the next day the crew drove back out to the airport to pick up Maj Rick Mader, the author’s replacement and incoming CO of the CANIC, at 15:30 hours. They took him to Pleso to clear in, then had supper in the hotel, lots of chat and hand-over notes. It was still raining, and there was more gunfire all night.

On 28 Dec 97 they set out from Zagreb with Mario, Louis and Rick en route to VK, driving through Karlovac via the autobahn, then South to VK in BiH. This was the first view of the typical urban damage in the area for Rick. They toured Velika Kladusa camp, then met with Col M.D. Capstick, who conducted the formal hand-over, Board of Inquiry (BOI) and presided over their official change of command. Both Majors were presented with handover scrolls from CC SFOR. Rick was given a briefing by Capt Bob Martyn and WO Jack W. Campbell from the LdSH BG. At 15:30 hours they headed back to Zagreb, had supper in the hotel, and did some final repacking. The gunfire never let up, which made the author decide to sleep on the floor. On 29 Dec 1997 they went over to Pleso to turn in the last of his kit. The author handed over his pistol to Rick (all rounds still intact). He also handed in his flak jacket, gave his helmet to Louis, and then said good luck and goodbye. Not long afterwards, the author found himself on his flight home and the end of his SFOR tour in Bosnia-Herzegovina Herzegovina.

Croatia, Feb 1996 - Sep 2001

Under Operation CHAPERON, Canada provided the United Nations Military Observers in Prevlaka (UNMOP), with one Canadian Forces member to serve as a United Nations Military Observer (UNMO).  This contribution was maintained from 1996 to 2001.

The Prevlaka Peninsula extends into the Adriatic Sea from the southernmost tip of Croatia. It is claimed by both Croatia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia because it controls the entrance to Kotor Bay, where the main Yugoslav naval bases are. In July 1991, when Croatia declared independence, Yugoslav forces tried to capture the Prevlaka Peninsula (shelling the town of Dubrovnik in the process) and were driven back by the Croatians.  The UN halted hostilities in Feb 1992, demilitarized the Prevlaka Peninsula and established a zone free of heavy weapons for five kilometres on either side of the Croatian - Yugoslav border.  UNMOP was established to monitor the border, the Prevlaka Peninsula and Kotor Bay from its base in Dubrovnik.

UN Military Observer Mission in Prevlaka (Croatia) (UNMOP) Medal.

European Union Force (EUFOR), 2004-2007

Following its summit meeting in Istanbul on 28 June 2004, NATO announced that its operations in Bosnia-Herzegovina would be turned over to a European Union Force (EUFOR) by the end of 2004.  During the fall of 2004, SFOR was gradually reduced while EUFOR was built up to replace it.  As part of the wider transition process, and in concert with our NATO and European allies, the Canadian contingent in SFOR was reduced in early October 2004 from 650 to less than 85 CF members.  This decrease marked the start of Operation BRONZE, the last phase of the CF contribution to SFOR, and the start of Operation BOREAS, Canada’s contribution to EUFOR.

Operation BOREAS was comprised of a CF Liaison and Observation Team (LOT).  The primary task of the LOT was to provide information and situational awareness to EUFOR by maintaining close contact with local authorities, including mayors, police forces, border patrols, community leaders and Bosnian Army Units.  The LOT also assisted in supporting the rule of law in general, most notably, preventing smuggling and the collecting of illegal weapons for destruction.

As with all international operations, the Government of Canada reviews its commitments abroad on a regular basis.  The decision to terminate Operation BOREAS in March 2007 coincided with an overall draw down of EUFOR personnel that took place due to the relative stability in the Balkan region.

Canada’s participation in Op Althea continued from SFOR.  With the change in organization, this participation was given a new name, Operation BRONZE. There were 85 personnel who made the transition from SFOR to EUFOR. On 9 February 2005, Operation BRONZE was divided into two distinct operations: Operation BRONZE for those part of the NATO Headquarters in Sarajevo, and Operation BOREAS for those who operated under the aegis of EUFOR.

The 69 Operation BRONZE personnel operated with Liaison and Observation Teams (LOT) in Bihac, with Multinational Task Force (Northwest), a field humint team and a national support cell in Banja Luka, and a movement detachment in Zagreb, Croatia. In Bihac, the Canadians assigned to the LOT were responsible for monitoring 35 communities. Working with local interpreters, they would visit communities to get a feel for what was happening in the area.

The Government of Canada expressed a desire, however, to reduce its commitment to EUFOR when a replacement nation could be found for the departing Canadian forces. With the second rotation of Op Boreas in September 2005, the mission was reduced to 11 persons restricted to the Liaison and Observation Teams in Bihac. A further reduction, to 9 personnel, occurred in July 2006. Op BOREAS was closed down on 31 March 2007.

The Common Security and Defence Policy Service Medal (named the European Security and Defence Policy Service Medal prior to 2009), is an international military decoration awarded to individuals, both military and civilian, who have served with CDSP.  Since the 1990s the European Union (EU) has taken a greater role in military missions both in Europe and abroad. These actions were taken under the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP), which is implemented by the European Union Military Staff, a department of the EU.  To recognize service in these missions the EU authorized the creation of a medal with a common obverse and reverse, to which clasps featuring the missions' name are attached to the ribbon bar.

NATO Headquarters Sarajevo, 1991-2010

While the European Union assumed responsibility for peacekeeping operations when SFOR was brought to a successful end in November 2004, NATO established a headquarters in Sarajevo to assist the country with defence reform.  Under Op BRONZE, Canadian Forces personnel served in various staff positions at NATO Headquarters Sarajevo (NHQSa).

The primary focus of NHQSa is defence reform.  NHQSa also undertakes certain operational tasks, including counter-terrorism and support to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, with regard to the detention of persons indicted for war crimes, and intelligence sharing with the European Union.   The closure of Op BRONZE occurred on 29 March 2010, after 19 years of CF operations in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

United Nations Mission in Haiti (UNMIH), 1993-1996

The UNMIH was a peacekeeping operation carried out by the UN between September 1993 and June 1996.  The Mission was reestablished as (MINUSTAH) in April 2004, after a rebels took over most of Haiti and its President Bertrand Aristide resigned.

UNMIH Medal, and UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) Medal.

On 23 September 1993, UNMIH was established by the UN Security Council under Resolution 867.  The first multinational force was sent to Haiti in 1994 which was made of 20,000 members, including Their goal was to help reform different aspects of their society that has been broken down over the many years of corruption. There has been many different groups located in different areas in Haiti designated to help certain aspects of society. The United Nations chooses qualified professionals from around that world who will play a role in the aid of the country. From the 1993 to the current mission ongoing now, the UN's years of service in Haiti have made many positive contributions to the progress of the country.  From 1993 to 1996, up to 500 Canadian Forces personnel and 100 civilian police were deployed to Haiti with UNMIH.  

Canadians also took part in the 1996-1997 UN Support Mission in Haiti (UNSMIH), on Operation STANDARD and Operation STABLE, and again from 1997 to 2004 with the UN Transition Mission in Haiti (UNTMIH), on Operation CONSTABLE.  From 1997 to 2000, Canadians served with the UN Civil Police Mission in Haiti (MIPONUH) on Operation COMPLIMENT.

Operation CONSTABLE, 29 July to 30 Nov 1997, was Canada's contribution to the United Nations Transition Mission in Haiti (UNTMIH), which was created on July 30, 1997 with a four-month mandate to assist the government of Haiti by supporting and contributing to the professionalization of the Haitian National Police.

With 650 personnel, the Canadian contingent was the largest in UNTMIH.  It comprised: a small reconnaissance battalion to conduct patrols and other operations in Port-au-Prince and throughout Haiti; a helicopter squadron to provide casualty evacuation services, a 24-hour mission capability, and a medium airlift capability; a military police platoon to provide criminal investigation services; a Military Information Support Team to provide the civilian population with timely, accurate information about UN activities; and a full-scale Logistics Group to provide virtually all the support services required to administer and sustain the Canadian units deployed with the United Nations Support Mission in Haiti (UNSMIH).

United Nations Stabilisation Mission in Haiti (UNSTAMIH)/Mission des Nations Unies pour la stabilisation en Haïti (MINUSTAH), 2004-2017

MINUSTAH was a UN peacekeeping mission in Haiti that was in operation from 2004 to 2017.  Operation HAMLET was the Canadian Armed Forces’ participation in the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti, commonly known by its French name, Mission des Nations Unies pour la stabilisation en Haïti, or the acronym MINUSTAH.  This operation ran from May 22, 2004, until October 15, 2017.  The mission's military component was led by the Brazilian Army and the force commander was Brazilian.  The force was composed of 2,366 military personnel and 2,533 police, supported by international civilian personnel, a local civilian staff and United Nations Volunteers.  The UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) began on 25 June 2004.  This mission included military personnel and civilian police officers.

Canadian troops in Haiti participated in emergency relief operations following heavy rains in southeast Haiti, while helicopters delivered food, water and other aid. Armed infantry soldiers also patrolled the streets of Gonaïves, both day and night, to reduce the level of violence.  The CAF contingent was back home by mid-August.  The first Canadian civilian police were sent to Haiti in July 2004 as part of Canada’s contribution of up to 100 police officers annually.

The Canadian Forces deployed about 500 personnel and six Bell CH-146 Griffon helicopters to Haiti to assist the United Nations-sanctioned multinational force in bringing stability to the country. This CF commitment was named Operation HALO.  Task Force Haiti (TFH) deployed in early March 2004 as part of the United Nations Multinational Interim Force (MIF). Formed in late February, the MIF had a 90-day mandate to contribute to a secure and stable environment in Haiti, to facilitate the delivery of relief aid to those in need, and to help the Haitian Police and Coast Guard maintain law and order and protect human rights.

At the request of the United Nations, the Canadian Forces (CF) mission in Haiti extended beyond its initial mandate in order to permit Task Force Haiti (TFH) to assist in the expansion from the Multinational Interim Force (MIF) to the larger follow-on Mission des Nations unies pour la stabilisation en Haïti (United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti), or MINUSTAH.  The transfer from the MIF to MINUSTAH took place at a ceremonial parade held June 25, 2004 in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince. The Canadian soldiers and air force personnel of Task Force Haiti serving on Operation HALO changed their regular uniform headdress for the United Nations blue beret. Operation HALO remained operational until end-July and members returned to Canada by mid-August 2004.

From June to November 2013, a platoon of 34 personnel from the Canadian Army operated within a Brazilian Battalion to support the MINUSTAH mandate. Working with Brazilian personnel, the Canadian Armed Forces members assisted Haitian security and stability efforts.  The Canadian Armed Forces platoon was comprised of personnel from 5 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group in Valcartier. The platoon completed language and peace-support training in Brazil prior to this one-time deployment.  Their primary task was to conduct patrols of their area of responsibility and create a visible military presence in Haitian communities. They also provided a link between the United Nations and the local population and were able to assist in improving living conditions for Haitians. The fact that the platoon spoke French helped them gain the trust of the local population.

Operation HORATIO was the Canadian Forces participation in the Government of Canada humanitarian assistance effort in the Republic of Haiti, which was struck by four hurricanes — Fay, Gustav, Hanna and Ike —in August 2008. Joint Task Force Haiti comprised all the Canadian assets deployed on the humanitarian aid mission in Haiti, including the Interdepartmental Strategic Support Team (ISST) and the Halifax-class frigate HMCS St. John’s.  The ISST deployed to Port-au-Prince on 10 September 2008.  MINUSTAH ended in October 2017.  

Earthquake in Haiti, 2010

On 12 January 2010, catastrophic earthquake that struck Port-au-Prince, Haiti, causing widespread devastation and killing two RCMP officers.  Measured at 7.3 on the Richter scale, he epicentre of the earthquake was located about 15 km from the centre of Port-au-Prince at a depth of 10 km.  The tremor damaged or destroyed most of the important buildings in Port-au-Prince, including the Presidential Palace, the National Assembly, the National Penitentiary, most of the city's hospitals, and the headquarters of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH). Fortunately, the MINUSTAH logistics base was spared. Basic services such as water and electricity collapsed almost entirely, and all surviving health care facilities were flooded with the injured. According to Red Cross estimates, some 3 million people - one third of Haiti's population - were affected by the quake.  Significant aftershocks followed, including at least 12 having magnitudes between 5.0 and 5.9.

In response to an appeal by the Haitian government, the CAF provided Joint Task Force Haiti, which was composed of naval, land and air components.  Operation HESTIA was the Canadian Forces participation in humanitarian operations.  The force peaked at about 2,050 personnel before being gradually decreased and then closed out in early April 2010.  From June to November 2013, the CAF also provided a 34-member platoon to the mission.  

Op HESTIA was the military component of a whole-of-government response that also involved Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada (DFAIT) and the Canadian International Development Agency.  In Operation HESTIA, the relief operation mounted in response to the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, a detachment of six Griffons turned out to be crucial to mobility because the earthquake had destroyed the roads.

Maritime Component.  Commanded by Captain (Navy), the destroyer HMCS Athabaskan, carrying a CH-124 Sea King helicopter detachment from 12 Wing Shearwater, cruising off Léogâne, and the frigate HMCS Halifax cruising off Jacmel.

Air Component.  Operating from Toussaint Louverture International Airport at Port-au-Prince and the municipal airfield in Jacmel the Air Component consisted of: Six CH-146 Griffon helicopters from 1 Wing squadrons across Canada based in Port-au-Prince and supporting operations in Jacmel and Léogâne; and Airfield operations personnel from 2 Air Movements Squadron, 8 Air Communications and Control Squadron and 8 Air Maintenance Squadron working at both airfield locations.

Land Component. At Toussaint Louverture International Airport in Port-au-Prince: Joint Task Force Headquarters, including: the Task Force Commander's staff, a signals squadron, the Joint Task Force Support Element, offering materiel management, transport, maintenance, Military Police and medical services.  An urban rescue and recovery team made up of search-and-rescue technicians and firefighters from bases and wings across Canada. A detachment of Military Police to support the Canadian Embassy in downtown Port-au-Prince.  At Jacmel: The Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART).  At Léogâne: 1 Canadian Field Hospital, made up of health services and logistics personnel from bases and wings across Canada, 3rd Battalion, Royal 22e Régiment Group from Valcartier, comprising two rifle companies, one support company, a squadron of sappers from 5 Combat Engineer Regiment.

JTFH received extensive support from 8 Wing Trenton, the home of transport squadrons flying the CC-130 Hercules tactical airlifter, the CC-144 Challenger long-range executive jet, and the CC-150 Polaris and CC-177 Globemaster III strategic airlifters.

Previous Canadian Operations in Haiti:

  • Operation HORATIO World Food Programme, September 2008
  • Haiti 2004-4 December 2004
  • Haiti 2004-3 October 2004
  • Haiti 2004-2 October 2004
  • Haiti 2004-1 September 2004
  • Operation HAMLET United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), May 2004-present
  • Operation HALO MINUSTAH, March-August 2004
  • Multinational Interim Force, February-July 2004
  • Operation PRINCIPAL February-March 2004
  • Operation HUMBLE May 2001
  • Haiti 1999 December 1999
  • Operation COMPLIMENT United Nations Civilian Police Mission in Haiti (MIPONUH), January 1998-March 2000
  • Operation CONSTABLE United Nations Transition Mission in Haiti (UNTMIH), July 1997-November 1997
  • Operation STABLE United Nations Support Mission in Haiti (UNSMIH), June 1996-July 1997
  • Operation STANDARD UNSMIH, June 1996-July 1997
  • Operation DIALOGUE January-December 1994
  • Operation FORWARD ACTION Multinational Force (MNF), October 1993-September 1994
  • Operation CAULDRON United Nations Mission in Haiti (UNMIH), September 1993-June 1996
  • Operation ESCORT November 1991-March 1992
  • Operation HERITAGE United Nations Observer Group for the Verification of the Elections in Haiti (ONUVEH), November 1990-February 1991
  • Haiti 1989 January-October 1989
  • Operation BANDIT January-February 1988
  • Haiti 1963 May 1963

Rwandan Genocide, 1994

The Rwandan genocide, also known as the genocide against the Tutsi, was a mass slaughter of Tutsi, Twa, and moderate Hutu in Rwanda, which took place between 7 April and 15 July 1994 during the Rwandan Civil War.  More than 600 Canadian soldiers serving with United Nations (UN) peace missions to Rwanda from 1993 to 1996, found themselves in the midst of some of the worst violence that could be imagined while taking part in international peace efforts to try to bring some stability to the embattled African nation.    The largest mission was the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR) in which Canada played a leading role.  At different times during the mission, two Canadians would serve as the Commander of the UN mission.  They were Major-General Roméo Dallaire and Major-General Guy Tousignant.

(DND Photo)

Major-General Roméo Dallaire, 1994.

Even with the UN mission to Rwanda in place, the bad situation in the country turned into a nightmare in April 1994. The Hutus began to massacre hundreds of thousands of Tutsis and moderate Hutus. The UN soldiers did what they could in this chaotic environment of widespread killing and mayhem, but they were too few in number and hamstrung by their limited mandate. In the end, they could not prevent the worst of the horrific violence.  More than 800,000 people died in the genocide in Rwanda. Millions more were left homeless and displaced in the upheaval. The Canadian and other UN forces did remain in the country for a time to try to help the country with some humanitarian efforts, mine clearing and refugee resettlement before leaving the devastated country in 1996.

The conflict originated in 1990, when the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), a rebel group composed of Tutsi refugees, invaded northern Rwanda from their base in Uganda, initiating the Rwandan Civil War.  Neither side was able to gain a decisive advantage in the war, and the Rwandan government led by President Juvenal Habyarimana signed the Arusha Acords with the RPF on 4 August 1993.  Many historians argue that a genocide against the Tutsi had been planned for at least a year.  However, Habyarimana's assassination on 6 April 1994 created a power vacuum and ended peace accords.  Genocidal killings began the following day when soldiers, police, and militia executed key Tutsi and moderate Hutu military and political leaders.

The scale and brutality of the massacre caused shock worldwide, but no country intervened to forcefully stop the killings.  Most of the victims were killed in their own villages or towns, many by their neighbors and fellow villagers.  Hutu gangs searched out victims hiding in churches and school buildings.  The militia murdered victims with machetes and rifles.  An estimated 500,000 to 1,000,000 Rwandans were killed, about 70% of the country's Tutsi population.  Sexual violence was rife, with an estimated 250,000 to 500,000 women raped during the genocide.  The RPF quickly resumed the civil war once the genocide started and captured all government territory, ending the genocide and forcing the government and genocidaires into Zaire.

The genocide had lasting and profound effects on Rwanda and neighbouring countries.  In 1996, the RPF-led Rwandan government launched an offensive into Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo), home to exiled leaders of the former Rwandan government and many Hutu refugees, starting the First Congo War and killing an estimated 200,000 people.  Today, Rwanda has two public holidays to mourn the genocide, and denial or historical revisionism of the genocide is a criminal offence.

UN Observer Mission Uganda – Rwanda (UNOMUR) Medal, and UN Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR) Medal.

Guatemala, 1994

In September 1994, the General Assembly decided to establish a Human Rights Verification in Guatemala acting on a recommendation by the Secretary-General that such a mission could make a contribution to a persisting pattern of human rights abuse.  The mission terminated in May 1997.

United Mission for the verification of Human Rights in Guatemala (MINUGUA) Medal.

United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic (MINURCA), 1998-2000

MINURCA (Mission des Nations Unies en République Centrafricaine) was a UN peacekeeping force in the Central African Republic.  The 1350-troop mission was established by the UN Security Council Resolution 1159 in March 1998.  It was replaced in 2000 after the Central African Republic conducted two peaceful elections, with the entirely civilian composed UN Peace-Building Support Office in the Central African Republic (BONUCA).  At its peak, Canada contributed over 80 personnel.

Operation PRUDENCE, from 15 April 1998 to 15 Nov 1999, was Canada's participation in the United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic (MINURCA), which was established on 27 Mar 1998 to maintain and enhance security and stability in Bangui, the capital city; to supervise the control and storage of weapons retrieved from disarmed parties; to help deliver a short-term police training program; and to provide advice and technical support to national electoral bodies during the presidential elections of 1999.  The mandate expired on 15 Nov 1999.

The Canadian contingent comprised a signals troop of 25 CF personnel, four staff officers employed at MINURCA Headquarters, a command and support element of 22 CF personnel and, during the presidential elections, 32 more CF signalers to support remote electoral sites.

UN Mission in the Central African Republic (MINURCA) Medal.

Naval Blockade of Iraqi Ports, 1998

From Feb to May 1998, on Operation DETERMINATION, Canadians participated in the multinational force stationed in the Persian Gulf (Arabian Gulf) area to compel Iraq to comply with United Nations inspection agreements. From February to May of 1998, Canada contributed a warship to the fleet that blockaded Iraqi ports on the Persian Gulf (Arabian Gulf) and intercepted all Iraq-bound shipping in the Arabian Sea.  

From June 1999 - Oct 2001, on Operation AUGMENTATION, Canadians participated in the coalition fleet enforcing UN sanctions against Iraq in the Persian Gulf.  Between June 1999 and October 2001, four frigates deployed individually on Op AUGMENTATION, each integrated into a US Navy battle group.  The battle groups were deployed to enforce the no-fly zone and import-export sanctions imposed on Iraq by United Nations Security Council Resolution 688 of April 1991.  June–December 1999: HMCS Regina with the USS Constellation Battle Group; June–November 2000: HMCS Calgary with a Surface Action Group; January–July 2001: HMCS Charlottetown with the USS Harry S Truman Battle Group; March–October 2001: HMCS Winnipeg with the USS Constellation Battle Group.

Aviano, Italy, June 1998 - 21 Dec 2000

Operation ECHO began in June 1998 when Canada sent six CF-18 Hornet fighter aircraft and approximately 125 Air Force personnel to Aviano, Italy, to help enforce a no-fly zone in the Balkan region in support of the NATO Stabilization Force (SFOR) and Kosovo Force (KFOR), and to prepare for the 79-day NATO air campaign over the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, which took place between March and June 1999.  During that campaign, in which Canadian pilots flew combat missions for the first time since the Korean War, Operation ECHO peaked at more than 300 CF personnel and eighteen CF-18 Hornet fighters, most of them from 3 Wing Bagotville, Quebec, and 4 Wing Cold Lake, Alberta. When Operation ECHO ended on 21 Dec 2000, the strength of the Canadian contingent stood at about 120 Air Force personnel and six CF-18 Hornet fighters, and the return to Canada began in January 2001.

Honduras, 1998

When Hurricane Mitch struck Central America, it killed at least 11,000 people and left more than 3 million homeless. Flooding was a major source of trouble, and outbreaks of water-borne diseases, especially cholera, were reported in many areas. As part of the international relief effort, Canada contributed the CF Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART), which deployed to La Cieba, Honduras Nov 1998 - Dec 1998, with 180 personnel organized in medical, engineering, logistics and security sections.

The mission priorities were: sanitation and water treatment to stop the spread of disease; delivery of emergency health care to the injured and sick; provision of emergency electrical power; and rebuilding bridges and clearing landmines so that transport could get moving again with much-needed supplies.  Operation CENTRAL was the first deployment of the entire DART with all its capabilities.

International Force East Timor (INTERFET), East Timor, 1999-2000

INTERFET was a multinational non-UN peacemaking taskforce, organised and led by Australia in accordance with United Nations resolutions to address the humanitarian and security crisis that took place in East Timor from 1999–2000 until the arrival of UN peacekeepers.   Eventually 22 nations contributed to INTERFET which grew to over 11,500 strong, including a Canadian infantry company from the 3rd Battalion R22eR, Lockheed CC-130 Hercules transport aircraft and the Canadian replenishment ship HMCS Protecteur.

(Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Robert Stirrup, USN Photo)

HMCS Protecteur (AOR 509), an auxiliary replenishment oiler, departing Naval Station Pearl Harbor, 23 June 2009.   She provided Canadian and allied warships with fuel, food and supplies and was the only Royal Canadian Navy supply ship stationed on the Pacific Coast.

International Force East Timor (INTERFET) Medal.

United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET), 1999 - 2002.

UNTAET provided an interim civil administration and a peacekeeping mission in the territory of East Timor, from its establishment on 25 October 1999, until its independence on 20 May 2002, following the outcome of the East Timor Special Autonomy Referendum.  Security Resolution 1272 established the transitional administration in 1999, and its responsibilities included providing a peacekeeping force to maintain security and order; facilitating and co-ordinating relief assistance to the East Timorese; facilitating emergency rehabilitation of physical infrastructure; administering East Timor and creating structures for sustainable governance and the rule of law; and assisting in the drafting of a new constitution and conducting elections.  

UNTAET was established on 25 October 1999, and was abolished on 20 May 2002, with most functions passed to the East Timor government.  The military and police forces were transferred to the newly created UN Mission of Suppofrt to East Timore (UNMISET).  600 Canadians were deployed on Operation TOUCAN for this mission.

United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), 1999-2002

UNMIK is the officially mandated mission of the UN in Kosovo.   UNMIK aims to ensure conditions for a peaceful and normal life for all inhabitants of Kosovo and advance regional stability in the western Balkans.

The UNMIK was established pursuant to Security Council Resolution 1244, which was passed on 10 June 1999.    The UN deployed forces to Kosovo, under United Nations auspices, to provide an international civil and security presence.  The UNMIK still exists today, but its day-to-day functions are relatively minor since Kosovo declared independence and adopted a new constitution, and following the creation of the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX), which itself operates within the framework of Security Council Resolution 1244.  EULEX assists and supports the Kosovo authorities in the rule of law area, specifically in the police, judiciary and customs areas.  In September 2012, international supervision ended, and Kosovo became responsible for its own governance.

From 1999 to 2002, 1,400 Canadian soldiers served with KFOR in Kosovo on Operation KINETIC as part of the overall NATO effort to stabilize the region, and on Operation QUADRANT.

UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) Medal.

United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL), 1999-2006

UNAMSIL was a UN peacekeeping operation in Sierra Leone from 1999 to 2006.  It was created by the UN Security Council in October 1999 to help with the implementation of the Lomé Peace Accord, an agreement intended to end the Sierra Leonean civil war.  UNAMSIL expanded in size several times in 2000 and 2001.  It concluded its mandate at the end of 2005, the Security Council having declared that its mission was complete.

The mandate was notable for authorizing UNAMSIL to protect civilians under imminent threat of physical violence (albeit "within its capabilities and areas of deployment") – a return to a more proactive style of UN peacekeeping.

UN Observer Mission in Sierra Leone/UN Mission In Sierra Leone (UNOMSIL/UNAMSIL) Medal.

UNAMSIL replaced a previous mission, the UN Observer Mission in Sierra Leone (UNOMSIL).  UNIOSIL's mandate was extended twice and ended in September 2008.

Canadian participation in UNAMSIL was authorized through the operation order of 9 November 1999.  Five CF officers deployed to Sierra Leone on Operation REPTILE to act as unarmed military observers and work in the UNAMSIL headquarters.  Such was the urgency of the situation that four of the personnel had deployed before the op order was issued.  The concern over the security of CF personnel was paramount, with the personnel only allowed to deploy to specific locations that met specific logistical, medical and security parameters.  This concern was not unfounded, as even in the authorized areas the Canadian UNMOs faced RUF intimidation.  This included death threats, rifles pointed at the UNMOs and bombs placed under vehicles.  In May, four returned to Canada at the end of their tour, the fifth remaining at UNAMSIL headquarters.

With the outbreak of violence in May 2000, Canada answered the UN’s request for assistance by providing one Airbus from No. 437 Squadron and 20 personnel to move Indian troops from New Delhi to Freetown.  This operation started in mid May and lasted two weeks. Canada also provided 1,700 fragmentation vests and 1,700 helmets as many peacekeepers from third-world countries were deploying without these valuable pieces of protective equipment.

With the UN reinforcement effort increasing, there was also a requirement for personnel to manage the huge amounts of supplies arriving at Lungi International Airport.  The CAF therefore contributed a Mobile Air Movements Section (MAMS), to handle freight and baggage, with ground communications support from No. 8 ACCS.  The 37 members of the MAMS team deployed on 20 May via No. 436 Squadron Lockheed CC-130 Hercules, their equipment going by commercial transport aircraft.  Working 12-hour shifts and in up to 43 degree temperatures, the MAMS teams off-loaded 4.7 million tons (2.4 million kgs) of freight in a 21 day period, before returning to Canada on 15 June in a CF Hercules.

With the situation stabilized, four UNMOs arrived at the end of June, bringing the CAF contribution back to five personnel, who would rotate at six-month intervals.  With the tenth rotation in January 2005, the number of personnel was reduced to three.  On the ground the Canadian UNMOs helped to oversee the disarmament and demobilization phase of the Abuja II agreement.  They monitored the cease-fire and the provision of humanitarian assistance.  Overall, about 90 CF personnel have served with UNAMSIL.

Operation SCULPTURE was Canada’s participation in the International Military Advisory and Training Team (IMATT), a multinational effort led by Britain to help the Government of the Republic of Sierra Leone build effective and democratically accountable armed forces in compliance with the Lomé Peace Agreement.  Operation SCULPTURE began in November 2000 and concluded on 15 February 2013.

Sri Lanka, Tsunami Relief, 2004

Operation STRUCTURE was the CF's humanitarian aid response to the tsunamis that struck Southeast Asia on 26 Dec 2004.  The CF Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) began preparations to deploy within hours of news of the devastation caused by the tsunamis.  The DART is a group of trained medical staff, engineers with a multitude of skills and soldiers who know how to operate in such a challenging environment.  The DART is the CF's best and primary tool available to deal with disasters of this magnitude.

On 2 Jan 2005, the Prime Minister announced the imminent deployment of the DART to the Ampara region of Sri Lanka. This was confirmed in the days after by the final recommendation of a 17-member interdepartmental reconnaissance team sent to Sri Lanka on 30 Dec 2004.  The reconnaissance team included an advance party of 11 CF members. The DART ceased operations after their successful 40-day relief-support in Sri Lanka on 19 Feb 2005.  The DART medical teams saw more than 7,620 patients while engineers have produced nearly three million-and-a-half litres of drinking water and transported more than 70,000 people across a local waterway.  In addition, the DART conducted several community humanitarian projects such as repairing schools, clearing rubble and helping with the construction of temporary shelters.

Sierra Leone, Ebola Outbreak, 2014

The 2014 outbreak of the EVD is the deadliest occurrence of the disease since it was discovered in 1976. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that more than 27, 500 people have been infected during the outbreak, with more than 11,000 of those cases resulting in fatalities. The magnitude of the outbreak overwhelmed local clinics and healthcare workers.  Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone were the most heavily affected nations. Cases were also confirmed in France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Nigeria, Norway, Mali, Senegal, Spain, Switzerland, the UK, and the United States

Operation SIRONA was the military component of the Canadian whole-of-government contribution to fighting the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.  Canadian Forces personnel augmented efforts undertaken by the United Kingdom to combat the spread of the Ebola virus disease (EVD) in Sierra Leone.  The mission ended on 30 June 2015.  The Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade, and Development (DFATD) was the departmental lead for Canada’s efforts against Ebola.  

Three rotations were carried out and a total of 79 CF healthcare and support staff were deployed to the UK’s Kerry Town Treatment Unit (KTTU) in Kerry Town, Sierra Leone, located south of the capital city of Freetown.  CF members worked alongside military partners from the UK to treat local and international healthcare workers who were exposed to the Ebola virus disease.  While in West Africa, CAF members used personal protective equipment and followed safety protocols to mitigate the risk of becoming infected by EVD.

Canada is currently monitoring the Ebola outbreak by working with international partners including: WHO; United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; and Global Public Health Intelligence Network.  Efforts are being coordinated with the United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER) and through experienced partners within the United Nations system and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).

Mission timeline: 3 and 8 October 2014 –RCAF CC-177 Globemaster transports UK personnel and equipment from East Midlands, UK to Freetown, Sierra Leone.  27 November 2014 – the Government of Canada announces Operation SIRONA.  20 December 2014 – CAF personnel arrive in Sierra Leone.  30 December 2014 – CAF Task Force commences operations at the UK’s Kerry Town Treatment Unit in Sierra Leone.  20 February 2015 – Second rotation of CAF healthcare personnel arrives in Sierra Leone.  6 March 2015 – First rotation of CAF healthcare personnel returns to Canada.  20 April 2015 – Third rotation of CAF healthcare personnel arrives in Sierra Leone.  8 May 2015 – Second rotation of CAF healthcare personnel returns to Canada.  30 June 2015 – the Government of Canada announces the end of Operation SIRONA.


United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), 1999-present

MONUSCO (Mission de l'Organisation des Nations unies pour la stabilisation en République démocratique du Congo), is aUN peacekeeping force in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) which was established by the United Nations Security Council in Resolutions 1279 (1999) and 1291 (2000) to monitor the peace process of the Second Congo War, though much of its focus subsequently turned to the Ituri conflict, the Kivu conflict and the Dongo conflict.  More than 30 nations, including Canada (9), have contributed military and police personnel for the peacekeeping effort.  The total strength of UN peacekeeping troops in DRC is approximately 18,300 troops.

UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC) / UN Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) Medal.

Earthquake in Turkey, 24 Aug -25 Sep 1999

At 3:02 a.m. on 17 Aug 1999, an earthquake measuring 7.4 on the Richter scale struck northwestern Turkey, collapsing thousands of buildings and damaging much of the area's infrastructure. The Turkish government estimated that 15,765 people had been killed, 24,940 were injured, about 30,000 were missing, and more than 500,000 were homeless. As part of the international response to this disaster, the CF Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) deployed to Serdivan, Turkey, on 24 Aug to provide humanitarian assistance, focussing on medical aid and potable water. The DART ceased operations on September 25, and began returning home on 28 Sep.

Major DART projects in Turkey included the following: A medical aid station that treated more than 5,000 people, including 260 psychological casualties; Three water purification units that produced more than 2.5 million litres of water, most of which was distributed by truck throughout the Serdivan and Adapazari areas; about 200,000 litres were distributed to the neediest people in one-litre sealed plastic bags; A tented camp, complete with washrooms and shower facilities, that accommodated 2,500 people and could be converted to prefabricated shelters; Washroom and shower facilities in other tented camps in the Serdivan area; and Testing of about 50 local water sources, and monitoring of the city's water treatment plant, and four pumping stations and reservoirs in the Serdivan area.

GTS Katie incident, 30 July - 6 August 2000

When Canadian operations in Kosovo ended (Operation KINETIC), the Department of National Defence hired SDV Logistics Canada Ltd. of Montréal to transport the contingent's 580 vehicles and 390 sea containers of equipment - Cdn$223 million worth of materiel - back to Canada, along with the three soldiers who were guarding the shipment.  SDV Logistics hired a sub-contractor, Andromeda Navigation Co. of Montréal, which chartered the cargo ship GTS Katie, which was registered in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and owned by Third Ocean Marine Navigation Co. of Annapolis, Maryland.

The GTS Katie left Thessaloniki, Greece, on 27 June, and was expected to arrive at Bécancour, Quebec on or around 15 July 2000.  During the voyage, however, Third Ocean Marine ordered the captain not to enter Canadian waters until Andromeda Navigation settled a monetary dispute arising from a previous charter; consequently, the Katie spent nearly two weeks circling in mid-Atlantic.  Aware that a long delay in repatriating the Katie's load of military equipment would significantly reduce the operational capability of the Canadian Forces, government officials worked around the clock to solve the problem.  Finally, when all other options had failed, diplomatic notes were sent to the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, which replied that no objections would be raised if Canadian authorities boarded the vessel.

Operation MEGAPHONE.  On 30 July, the destroyer HMCS Athabaskan received orders to keep the GTS Katie in sight and, on 31 July, the frigate HMCS Montréal joined the operation.  At about 1:45 p.m. on 3 Aug, fourteen sailors from HMCS Athabaskan boarded the GTS Katie in a helicopter-borne assault, and compelled the captain to resume his previous course to Bécancour, where the Katie arrived on 6 Aug.

Macedonia, Aug 2001 - Sep 2002

Operation FORAGE was the Canadian contribution to the NATO Operation ESSENTIAL HARVEST in the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia, which began officially on 22 Aug 2001.  On 27 Aug, about 3,500 NATO troops, including 200 Canadians, deployed with logistical support into Macedonia to collect and destroy weapons surrendered by ethnic Albanian groups.  Operation FORAGE was a 30-day commitment.  When NATO mounted a follow-on mission to provide a monitoring presence, the CF undertook to provide one staff officer to work at Task Force Headquarters.  The last CF member to hold this post returned to Canada at the end of September, 2002.

Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (NATO-FYROM) Medal.

The United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE), Aug 2000 - June 2008

UNMEE was established by the UN Security Council in July 2000 to monitor a ceasefire in the border war that began in 1998 between Ehiopia and Eritrea.  The first military troop including a Netherlands - Canadian battalion 'NECBAT' arrived and established bases in the region in December 2000.  The mission was formally abandoned in July 2008 after experiencing serious difficulties in sustaining its troops due to fuel stoppages and after due consideration of remaining options.

UNMEE Medal.

The UN requested that the peacekeepers be provided by the Standby Forces High-Readiness Brigade (SHIRBRIG), a pre-established United Nations multinational military force created in 1996 (a Danish initiative) to provide troops at the start of UN peacekeeping missions for a period of no more than six months.  As part of SHIRBRIG, Canada had been tasked to provide military observers and a mechanized infantry company to the Dutch-led peacekeeping effort.

In 2000, a 450-strong CF contingent ( Operation ECLIPSE) helped establish the mission in a six-month commitment during which the Canadians were integrated with the Dutch contingent to form a Canadian-Dutch battle group.  Six members from the Canadian Forces worked as part of an international group of 220 UN Military Observers (UNMOs) who monitor the Temporary Security Zone between the two countries.

Under the designation Operation ADDITION, Canada provided up to 6 UNMO’s on a rotational basis for the UN effort.  Based in Asmara, Eritrea, the operation consisted of four 8-month rotations of 6 officers each, beginning on 3 Nov 2000 and running until 12 July 2003.  On each rotation the senior Canadian officer acted as UNMEE’s Chief Operations Officer.

The primary task of the UNMO’s was to confirm that both sides were sincere in their desire to stop the fighting and accept the presence of a UN peacekeeping contingent, as well as liaising with locals in the region to gain information and assess humanitarian needs.

Operation ADDITION marked the first use by the CAF of its newly formed Theatre Activation Team (TAT) concept.  Based out of CFB Kingston, Ontario, the TAT assisted in establishing the military and diplomatic groundwork between the UN, Ethiopian, and Eritrean representatives in Asmara.  The team included an advance party of engineering troops who began arriving in country on 5 December 2000,to prepare the Canadian camps for the upcoming deployment of Canadian peacekeepers to the region.

Canada's "Task Force East Africa" (TFEA) comprised the following sub-units: an armoured reconnaissance platoon; a Company Group made up of the following elements:H Company of The Royal Canadian Regiment (three mechanized infantry platoons); an engineer troop; a combat service-support platoon; and a company headquarters, all supported by a Canadian National Command Element and a National Support Element.

TFEA was integrated into NECBAT, the Dutch-led Netherlands-Canadian Battalion, which was the first UNMEE battalion to begin operations.  Assigned to Sector Centre in Eritrea, TFEA worked out of Camp Groesbeek, the NECBAT logistics base in Dek'emhare; Camp Dunn, near Senafe; and platoon bases in Senafe and Tsorena, Ethiopian-occupied towns due to be turned over to Eritrea.  A detachment from TFEA detachment moved to Sector East to set up operations there so the Kenyan Battalion, due to deploy into the theatre, could begin operations immediately upon arrival.  This task was not part of the original mission, but the Canadian contingent accepted it to ensure that UNMEE had credible forces in all three of its sectors when Ethiopia began withdrawing its troops in compliance with the peace plan.

On 18 April, UNMEE declared the establishment of the 25 km-wide Temporary Security Zone (TSZ) between Ethiopia and Eritrea, marking the formal separation of the forces of the parties to the peace agreement.  For the rest of their six months in east Africa, the Canadian soldiers monitored compliance with the signed protocol concerning the Eritrean militia, and facilitated the return of Eritrean civil administrators and police to the TSZ.  They also carried out "quick-impact" humanitarian projects to help people returning to villages in the Canadian area of operations: they refurbished the Senafe elementary school, and distributed school supplies, clothing, sports equipment and toys.  These projects were completed by the Canadian soldiers themselves, with partial funding from the Canadian International Development Agency.  On 11 June, the Canadians handed their responsibilities over to the Indian Battalion, and by the end of June the entire Canadian contingent had returned home.

11 September 2001 Attacks (911)

(Robert Photo)

11 Sep 2001.  The north face of Two World Trade Centre (south tower), New York city, immediately after being struck by United Airlines Flight 175.  

11 September 2001, the View from NORAD. The Intelligence Branch personnel serving with NORAD in the fall of 2001 were engaged in the largest exercise of the year centred on the NORAD Command elements in Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado Springs.  Canadians serving with NORAD including myself were on duty in the main operations centre, just preparing for a morning briefing with the Commander when one of the duty officers said, “look at that,” as he pointed to one of the two wide screen televisions up front.  CNN was broadcasting the smoke drifting away from the first of the two strikes on the World Trade Center towers.

The world as we knew it in North America changed dramatically on Tuesday, 11 September 2001.  The events of this day have come to be known as the 911 terrorist attacks.  Between 7:45 a.m. and 8:10 a.m. EDT on that date, four airplanes were hijacked from east coast airports in the USA.  At 8:46 a.m. EDT, the first hijacked passenger jet, American Airlines Flight 11 out of Boston, Massachusetts, crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Centre in New York City, tearing a gaping hole in the building and setting it on fire.  At 9:03 a.m. EDT, a second hijacked airliner, United Airlines Flight 175 from Boston, crashed into the south tower of the World Trade Centre and exploded.  At 9:40 a.m., the FAA halted all flight operations at U.S. airports, the first time in U.S. history that air traffic nationwide had been halted. At 9:43 a.m. EDT, the third airplane, American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon, sending up a huge plume of smoke. Evacuation began immediately, followed at 9:45 a.m. with the evacuation of the White House.

At 10:05 a.m. EDT, the south tower of the World Trade Centre collapsed, plummeting into the streets below. A massive cloud of dust and debris formed and slowly drifted away from the building. At 10:10 a.m. EDT, the fourth hijacked airplane, United Airlines Flight 93, crashed in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, southeast of Pittsburgh.  At 10:24 a.m., the FAA reported that all inbound transatlantic aircraft flying into the United States were being diverted to Canada.  At 10:28 a.m. EDT, the World Trade Centre’s north tower collapsed from the top down as if it were being peeled apart, releasing a tremendous cloud of debris and smoke.  

At 11:18 a.m., American Airlines reported it had lost two aircraft. American Flight 11, a Boeing 767 flying from Boston to Los Angeles, had 81 passengers and 11 crew aboard.  Flight 77, a Boeing 757 en route from Washington’s Dulles International Airport to Los Angeles, had 58 passengers and six crew members aboard.  Flight 11 slammed into the north tower of the World Trade Centre.  Flight 77 hit the Pentagon.  At 11:26 a.m., United Airlines reported that United Flight 93, en route from Newark, New Jersey, to San Francisco, California, had crashed in Pennsylvania. U.S. officials reported the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania could have been headed for one of three possible targets: Camp David, the White House or the U.S. Capitol building.

At 11:59 a.m., United Airlines confirmed that Flight 175, from Boston to Los Angeles, had crashed with 56 passengers and 9 crew-members aboard.  It hit the World Trade Centre‘s south tower.  At 5:20 p.m. EDT, the 47-story Building 7 of the World Trade Centre complex collapsed.  The evacuated building was damaged when the twin towers across the street collapsed earlier in the day. Other nearby buildings in the area remained ablaze.

Within hours, US officials reported Saudi militant Osama bin Laden, suspected of coordinating the bombings of two U.S. embassies in 1998, was involved in these attacks.  Bin Laden’s home base was known to be in Afghanistan at that time and in due course, Canadians, including me, were on the ground participating in the hunt for him, serving with the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).

One curious note to add: In the spring of 2001, the NORAD Exercise Intelligence Staff was directed to draft a training exercise designed to force the evacuation of the Pentagon and its staff to an alternate headquarters.  We compiled a scenario based on a commercial aircraft being hijacked after departing another country, en route to the USA, with hijackers who were scripted as dying of Aids and demanding to speak with officials at the UN in New York to have their grievances redressed.  En route, the aircraft was to dive into the Pentagon.  The senior NORAD operators turned down the draft scenario because they felt it was, “too unlikely,” claiming the aircraft would be destroyed before it was allowed to strike the Pentagon or any built-up area.  The exercise team therefore developed an alternative scenario in which a subway train stopped in the tunnel at the underground mall station beneath the Pentagon where a terrorist bomb was scripted to be detonated, instead.  When the “911” terrorist attacks took place, many of us had an uneasy sense of déja-vu.

Afghanistan, 2001-2014

Following the terrorist attacks on the United States on 11 September 2001, the United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 1368 condemning the attacks and supporting international efforts to root out terrorism in Afghanistan.  On 7 October 2001, the United States and the United Kingdom launched Operation Enduring Freedom to dismantle the Al-Qaeda terrorist network in Afghanistan and to remove the Taliban regime from power.  On the same day, Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien announced that Canada would contribute air, land and sea forces to the international campaign against terrorism.  Operation APOLLO, the CAF contribution to the campaign, officially began, marking Canada’s entry in the international mission.

The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) conducted operations in Afghanistan for more than 12 years in a number of different roles involving air, land and sea assets. CAF activities included combat, security, development, support and training operations in varying capacities and regions in Afghanistan.  Since the beginning of the mission, more than 40,000 CAF members have been deployed to Afghanistan, many more than once, making the military engagement the largest deployment of CAF personnel since the Second World War.

Canada was part of a larger NATO-led and United Nations-sanctioned mission that included several NATO and other like-minded nations. The international community is focused on helping the Government of Afghanistan assume responsibility for security, governance and development and to help the Afghan people rebuild their nation as a stable, democratic, self-sufficient society. The first step in this transition process (known as Inteqal) focused on transferring the responsibility for security from the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) to the Afghan national security forces (ANSF) by 31 December 2014.  Successful transition required that the ANSF be fully capable of tackling security challenges on a sustainable and irreversible basis.  Non-existent in 2001, the Afghan National Army and the Afghan National Police have grown in size and strength.  Today, there are nearly 350,000 uniformed Afghan soldiers and police that are planning, leading and conducting across the entire country.  The transition process was to be completed by the end of 2014.

Canada’s ultimate goal is to help Afghans rebuild Afghanistan into a viable country that is better governed, more stable and secure, and never again a safe haven for terrorists. To this end, Canadians have assisted in improving security, diplomacy, human rights and development.  CAF activities aimed to establish the security required to promote development and an environment conducive to the improvement of Afghan life. CAF members: conducted combat operations to root out and drive out insurgent groups such as the Taliban to create a secure environment for development and reconstruction to take place; maintained security in various areas to allow Afghans to rebuild; facilitated the delivery of programs and projects that support national economic recovery and rehabilitation; and trained members of the ANSF and senior officials in the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Defence to provide them with the tools necessary to sustain their own security.

Afghanistan’s challenges cannot be overcome by military means alone.  As well as military personnel, the Canadian effort in Afghanistan included diplomats, development workers, police officers, and experts in human rights, good governance, the rule of law, and the institutions of a healthy democracy.  This wide range of expertise was assembled to bring a whole-of-government approach to the complex task of nation-building.  The CAF were one component of this effort that also included other Canadian government departments, such as: the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada; the Royal Canadian Mounted Police; Canadian civilian police departments; Public Safety; Correctional Services Canada; and Canada Border Services Agency, among others.

Canadian Armed Forces operations in Afghanistan: Operation APOLLO (October 2001 – October 2003); Operation ACCIUS (November 2002 – June 2005); Operation ATHENA (August 2003 – December 2011); Operation ALTAIR (July 2004 – September 2008); Operation ARGUS (September 2005 – August 2008); Operation ARCHER (February – July 2006); Operation SAIPH (October 2009 – May 2012); Operation ATTENTION (May 2011 – March 2014).

In August 2003, phase 1 of Operation ATHENA began.  This was Canada’s contribution of peace-support and combat forces to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).  For the next two years, Canada provided an infantry battle group and the command element of a multinational brigade (from February to July 2004) to help establish and enhance security in and around the capital, Kabul.  CAF troops conducted foot patrols, surveillance missions, armed raids on illegal weapons caches and provided security to facilitate elections.  From 18 Jan to 30 July 2004, the author served with the Kabul Multi-National Brigade (KMNB), with ISAF at Camp Warehouse, Kabul.  Phase 1 of Op ATHENA ended in August 2005 and the Canadian task force began transitioning to Kandahar until January 2006.

The South-West Asia Service Medal recognizes service with or in direct support of operations against terrorism in South-West Asia, from 11 September 2001 to 31 July 2009.

General Campaign Star – ALLIED FORCE (GCS-AF)

The GCS is awarded to members of the Canadian Forces and members of allied forces working with the Canadian Forces who deploy into a defined theatre of operations to take part in operations in the presence of an armed enemy.

The GCS is always issued with a ribbon specific to the theatre or type of service being recognized, and each ribbon has its own criteria.

The GCS with ALLIED FORCE ribbon is awarded to fighter pilots and AWACS crew members who flew at least five sorties during Operation ALLIED FORCE between 24 March and 10 June 1999 in the theatre of operations which consisted of the airspace over Kosovo and other territories of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Albania, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and the Adriatic and Ionian seas.

General Campaign Star - SOUTH-WEST ASIA (GCS-SWA)

Author, serving with the Kabul Multi-National Brigade (KMNB), part of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), meeting with one of the local staff at the King's Tomb in Kabul, Afghanistan in 2004.

(DND Photo)

Officers of the Kabul Multi-National Brigade (KMNB), International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), Kabul, Afghanistan.  (The author is standing 7th from the right).  BGen Jocelyn LaCroix (5e GBMC) commanding, 2004.  My privilege to have been a member of the staff.

(DND Photo)

17 May 2006, 26 year old Captain Nichola Kathleen Sarah Goddard, MSM, 1 RCHA, was the first female Canadian combat soldier killed in combat, and the 16th Canadian soldier killed on Canadian operations in Afghanistan.

Memorial Cross, granted by Her Majesty’s Canadian Government as a memento of personal loss and sacrifice in respect of military personnel who lay down their lives for their country, for deaths while in service after 6 October 2001.  The Memorial Cross is granted to up to two recipients previously identified by the former member whose death is directly attributable to service in a Special Duty Area SDA.  On the back of the cross, he service number, substantive rank at time of death, initials, and surname of the person being commemorated are engraved on two lines in the center.  Any legal recipient may wear the Memorial Cross at any time they deem appropriate.  It is worn on the left breast.

The Sacrifice Medal was created in the context of increased casualties in overseas operations to fulfill the desire of Canadians and the Government to provide formal recognition, through the award of an official medal emanating from the Crown, to those who die as a result of military service or are wounded by hostile action. This honour replaced the Wound Stripe.

2 RCR, 8 April 2007, Pte David Greenslade, Saint John, NB; Cpl Aaron Williams, Perth-Andover, NB; Cpl Chris Stannix, Dartmouth, NS; Cpl Brent Poland, Sarnia, ON; Sgt Donald Lucas, St. John’s, NL; Pte Kevin Kennedy, St. John’s, NL.  RCD, 11 Apr 2007, Tpr Patrick Pentland, Geary, NB, and MCpl; Allan Stewart, Newcastle, NB; helicopter crash 30 May 2007, MCpl Darrell Priede, Burlington.  Just a few of the fallen.  You can view a more complete list here:

Ramp ceremony for a lost colleague, Major Michelle Mendes.  In the oppressive late-afternoon heat of 23 April 2009 at the sprawling air base outside Kandahar, Major Michelle Mendes made the dusty walk to her living quarters.  Inside a sparse room, the 30-year-old sat down on her bed with service pistol in hand, and shot herself in the head.  It was the last in a long line of firsts for the young woman who had landed in Kandahar just four days earlier with a hefty reputation as someone who might one day command Canada's intelligence branch.  The pretty analyst with the prodigious intellect was the first Canadian female soldier to commit suicide in Afghanistan.  "You always demand more of the best people," said Colonel Christian Rousseau, who was the top intelligence officer in the branch during most of Major Mendes's service. "Did we push her too much? Obviously we did, because of what happened."

Senior Military Liaison Officer to the Special Representative of the Secretary General in West Africa (SRSG West Africa), 2003

The Department of Peacekeeping Operations at the United Nations recently requested a senior officer of the Canadian Forces to serve in west Africa as Military Advisor and Senior Military Liaison Officer to the Special Representative of the Secretary General in West Africa (SRSG West Africa). This request was made on the behalf of the UN Department of Political Affairs. Colonel Daniel Redburn was selected for this tasking, called Operation SOLITUDE, and deployed to Dakar, Senegal on 22 March 2003.  The post of Senior Military Liaison Officer was held for one year.

Interim Emergency Multinational Force in Bunia, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) 8 June 2003 - 6 July 2003

Operation CARAVAN, the Canadian Forces (CF) contribution to the French-led Interim Emergency Multinational Force in Bunia, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) concluded on 6 July 2003,

Op CARAVAN was launched in response to a request from the United Nations for assistance in restoring order in that region. Beginning on 8 June 2003 two Lockheed CC-130 Hercules tactical transport aircraft and about 50 CF personnel, detached from the Tactical Airlift Detachment (TAL Det) deployed in the Persian Gulf (Arabian Gulf) region on Operation APOLLO, provided airlift from Entebbe, Uganda to Bunia.  Both aircraft and most of the personnel returned to the TAL Det that also supported Operation ATHENA, the Canadian contribution to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan.

During Op CARAVAN, aircraft completed 50 flights, transported 545 personnel and delivered more than 490,000 kg of cargo with an excellent mission success rate.

Op CARAVAN was not the only Canadian commitment in DRC.  Under Operation CROCODILE, Canada's contribution to the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC), eight CF members are employed on the staff at MONUC Headquarters in Kinshasa and at the Sector Headquarters in Kisangani.

United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), 2004

The Chapter VII United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) was created in accordance with United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1500. The UNAMI mandate is to play a leading role in assisting the Iraqi people and government in the formation of institutions for representative government. The Canadian mission in support of UNAMI was Operation IOLAUS. This mission was approved for a one-year term and the mandate was renewed on an annual basis.

This operation involved the deployment of a CF officer to be one of the Assistant Military Advisors (AMA or A/MILAD) for the United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) leading the UNAMI mission. This officer was authorized to carry out tasks assigned to him by the Military Advisor (MILAD) to the SRSG, in accordance with his mandate as approved by the United Nations. The officer was employed as an expert on the mission as an unarmed member of the SRSG UNAMI staff.

Task Force Iraq (TFI) was a detachment of Canadian Expeditionary Force Command (CEFCOM) and represented the forces assigned to Operation IOLAUS. As the sole officer assigned to TFI, the A/MILAD was also designated the Task Force Commander.

United Nations Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS), 2005-2009

UNMIS was established by the UN Security Council under Resolution 1590 of 24 March 2005, in response to the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the government of the Sudan and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement on 9 Jan 2005 in Sudan.

UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) Medal.

UNMIS tasks were to support the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, to perform certain functions relating to humanitarian assistance, protection, promotion of human rights, and to support the African Union Mission in Sudan.  The mandate of UNMIS ended on 9 July 2011; the UNSC officially ended the mission on 11 July 2011, with a drawdown by 31 August 2011.  Equipment and personnel were transferred to UNISFA and UNMISS.  45 Canadian personnel from Canada participated in the efforts in Sudan, which began with UNAMIS, the participation being named Operation SAFARI.  With the creation of UNMIS, Canada agreed to send both headquarters staff to support the UN mission and military observers to oversee the terms of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and report on and investigate any violations.  The headquarters staff were drawn from the Canadian contribution to the United Nations Standby High Readiness Brigade (SHIRBRIG), as a result of which they would only be deployed for six months.

The commander of SHIRBRIG, Brigadier-General Greg Mitchell (Canada), was designated Deputy Force Commander of UNMIS. SHIRBRIG deployed form early April to Oct 2005 for a six month deployment.  Canada also augmented the UNMIS Headquarters staff providing five Canadian Forces members for the leadership of the headquarters company, bringing its total Canadian contribution to 15 personnel.  The commitment for a recurring six-month contribution of military observers was for 12 persons.

The headquarters component was increased to nine and the UN Military Observer (UNMO) component to 25.  The headquarters staff operated out of Khartoum, with one person in El Obeid.  The UNMOs could be deployed to any of the six UNMIS sectors, although an effort was made to keep Canadians in pairs at any location to which they were deployed.

As Canada’s military contribution to the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS), Operation AUGURAL (Aug 2008 to July 2008), was conducted to build capacity in the areas of strategic planning, air operations, contracting, logistics and operations planning, and land operations with the Canadian “armoured vehicle, general purpose”, or AVGP.

Canadian support to AMIS began with a contribution of more than $1.4 million worth of basic army equipment, including helmets, body armour and maps. In 2005, this initial endowment was followed by a loan of 105 “armoured vehicles, general purpose” (AVGPs) to three A.U. nations contributing troops to AMIS: Senegal, Rwanda and Nigeria.

Task Force Sudan was the Canadian Forces team deployed on Operation SAFARI, was the Canadian contingent in UNMIS.  At its peak, Task Force Sudan comprised 30 Canadian Forces members, including 20 serving as United Nations Military Observers (UNMOs) at team sites across southern Sudan, eight on the staff at UNMIS Headquarters in Khartoum, and three with the Canadian support element in Khartoum.

(Author Photo)

The AVGP (Armoured Vehicle General Purpose) Husky is an Armoured Recovery Vehicle (ARV) operated by a two-man crew.  The Husky is designed to provide mechanical support for the other two AVGP vehicles.  This one is on display with the NBMHM.

The loan (which continues under Operation SATURN) comprises 100 Grizzly and five Husky AVGPs, six-wheeled armoured fighting vehicles that offer safe transport for up to 10 soldiers (an infantry section).  The Grizzly personnel carrier is well suited to the task of moving AMIS troops quickly and safely, especially in the terrain of Darfur, and the Husky maintenance and recovery vehicle can transport maintenance crews and retrieve vehicles that may require repair while away from their home base.

On 31 July 2007, UN Security Council Resolution 1769 established a hybrid African Union-U.N. peace-support mission called UNAMID (Operation SATURN) to assume responsibility for peace operations in Darfur on 1 January 2008.  The loan of the AVGPs to Nigeria, Rwanda and Senegal continued through their transition to UNAMID.

Task Force Addis Ababa was the Canadian mission supporting AMIS.  Commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Gary Meisner, it comprised 11 CAF members, including five in Addis Ababa employed in mission support and as staff officers with the Darfur Integrated Task Force (DITF), an African Union formation; two in Khartoum handling contracts and logistics; and four in El Fashir, Darfur, doing logistics support and training troops from Nigeria, Rwanda and Senegal to operate Canadian armoured fighting vehicles. The Husky and Grizzly vehicles remained in service with UNAMID until Nigeria, Rwanda and Senegal completed the introduction of their own armoured vehicles in 2009.  At that time, the Canadian armour trainers were withdrawn from Task Force Darfur.


Earthquake in Pakistan, 2005

On October 8, 2005, a major earthquake (7.6 on the Richter scale) struck Pakistan in the Muzaffarabad region, some 95 kilometres northeast of Islamabad.  On October 11, following a request from the Government of Pakistan, the Government of Canada deployed an inter-departmental evaluation and assessment team to Pakistan with the task of working with relevant authorities and international agencies to identify intermediate actions that Canada could take in support of relief and recovery efforts, including the possibility of deploying Canadian Forces assets such as the Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART).  On October 14, based on the recommendation of the evaluation and assessment team, Prime Minister Paul Martin announced that the DART would deploy to the earthquake affected region of Pakistan.  This DART deployment was known as Operation Plateau.

NATO Maritime Group 1, Jan 2006 - June 2009

Operation SEXTANT was Canada’s periodic participation from January 2006 to June 2009 in Standing NATO Maritime Group 1 (SNMG 1), a component of the NATO Response Force (NRF).  SNMG 1 is a permanent naval squadron that usually operates in the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, and can deploy anywhere in the world to respond to crises.  In spring 2009, SNMG 1 deployed to the waters off the Horn of Africa to deter and disrupt piracy, and defend transiting merchant vessels against pirates.  SNMG 1 was established in January 2005.  It consists of destroyers and frigates from the navies of NATO member nations, under operational command from Allied Maritime Component Command Headquarters in Northwood, England.  Canada’s participation in NATO maritime operations dates from before the establishment of the Standing Naval Force Atlantic (STANAVFORLANT) in 1967.  Deployments of Canadian warships to serve with SNMG1 continue under Operation SAIPH.

Deployments: 11 January–30 June 2006: HMCS Athabaskan (as flagship); 1 July–December 2006: HMCS Iroquois (as flagship); 20 July–18 December 2007: HMCS Toronto; 17 July–22 December 2008 HMCS Ville de Québec; 2 April 2009–2 June 2009: HMCS Winnipeg.

From 25 Oct 2009 to 31 May 2012, Operation SAIPH was Canada's periodic participation in the international campaign to enhance maritime security in the North Arabian Sea, the Persian Gulf and the waters around the Horn of Africa.  Operation SAIPH had five areas of mission focus: counter-piracy efforts under Operation OCEAN SHIELD, a continuing mission directed from the NATO Maritime Component Command Headquarters in Northwood, England; counter-terrorism operations as part of Combined Task Force 150 (CTF-150), a combatant flotilla of Combined Maritime Forces headquartered in Bahrain; military-to-military engagements with the nations of the region; building and improving strategic relationships in the region; and helping the nations of the region develop their military capabilities.

Task Force Saiph, Commanding Officer: Commander Steven Waddell.  From 25 Oct 2009 to 8 April 2010, the Halifax-class frigate HMCS Fredericton was deployed as Task Force Saiph to carry out a two-part assignment: counter-piracy operations off the Horn of Africa with SNMG 1 from 21 November 2009 to 18 February 2010, and counter-terrorism operations in the North Arabian Sea with CTF-150 from 19 February 2010 to 8 April 2010.

Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, 27-29 Nov 2009

Operation TATOU was the Canadian Forces participation in support to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, from 27 November to 29 November 2009.  The task force. Operation TATOU provided airlift and maritime surveillance services in support of the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force.  The airlift component consisted of one CC-150 Polaris long-range transport aircraft from 8 Wing Trenton, Ont., to bring more than 200 military and police personnel from Caribbean Community countries to Port of Spain, where they assisted Trinidadian authorities during the meeting.

The maritime surveillance portion of the operation, conducted throughout the meeting, comprised: the Halifax-class frigate HMCS Ville de Québec from Halifax, NS, one Lockheed CP-140 Aurora maritime surveillance aircraft from 14 Wing Greenwood, N.S., and a Maritime Liaison Team from Maritime Forces Atlantic, deployed ashore in Trinidad and Tobago.

The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting brought thousands of delegates and 53 Heads of Government to Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, from 27 November to 29 November 2009.  Held every two years, the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting provides a forum for Commonwealth leaders to discuss issues and agree on collective policies and initiatives.  Trinidad and Tobago is one of the smallest countries ever to host an international summit of this magnitude. Facing significant logistics and security challenges, the Government of Trinidad and Tobago asked for help from the participating nations, including Canada. In response to this request, the Canadian Forces mounted Operation TATOU to provide maritime surveillance and airlift capabilities in support of the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force.

Operation TATOU was previously conducted, with similar composition, to support the successful Summit of the Americas when it was held in Trinidad and Tobago from 17 April to 19 April 2009.  Participation by the Canadian Forces in the security arrangements for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting was consistent with the CF mandate to defend North America and contribute to international peace and security. CF assistance to this summit demonstrates Canada’s interest and commitment not only to the Commonwealth, but also to our neighbours in the Americas.

Jamaica, 2011

On 2 June 2011, the Canadian ambassador to Jamaica received a formal request from the Government of Jamaica for a detachment of land-based helicopters to bridge a temporary gap in Jamaica Defence Force aviation capabilities, specifically the availability of its fleet of Bell 412 helicopters.  The deployment of Task Force Jamaica represented Canada’s continued commitment to assist regional partners.  Operation JAGUAR was Canada’s contribution of military aviation and search-and-rescue capability that supported the Jamaica Defence Force and conducted essential training for Canadian Forces search-and-rescue teams.

Task Force Jamaica was a detachment of three Bell CH-146 Griffon utility tactical transport helicopters with aircrews and support personnel, including five search-and-rescue teams, for a total of 65 Canadian Forces members under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Christian Lalande.  Located at Up Park Camp, the Jamaica Defence Force base in Kingston, Jamaica, Task Force Jamaica was responsible for flying life-saving missions such as search-and-rescue and medical evacuation in support of Jamaica Defence Force operations.  The search-and-rescue teams deployed with Task Force Jamaica also conducted training activities required to ensure the long-term availability of search-and-rescue aircrew for operations in Canada. The aircraft and personnel of Task Force Jamaica deployed in August 2011 and returned to Canada in late November 2011 upon successful completion of their mission.

The CH-146 Griffon helicopters deployed on Operation JAGUAR came from 5 Wing Goose Bay in Labrador and 8 Wing Trenton in Ontario. The aircrews and maintenance personnel came from 444 Combat Support Squadron at 5 Wing Goose Bay, 439 Combat Support Squadron at 3 Wing Bagotville in Quebec, and 424 Transport and Rescue Squadron at 8 Wing Trenton.  The CH-146 Griffon helicopter is a sturdy, flexible aircraft ideally suited to operations responding to emergencies.  

Libya, 2011

(DND Photo)

Lieutenant-General Charles Bouchard, RCAF.  On 25 March 2011, while continuing to serve at Naples, Bouchard was named Commander of "Operation UNIFIED PROTECTOR", NATO's military intervention in Libya.  The Libya mission provided air cover to overthrow the country's long-time national leader Muammar Gaddafi, a mission in which fighter jets played a massive role.  Bouchard was replaced in October 2011 as Deputy Commander Allied JFC Naples by a fellow Canadian Marquis Hainse the position having fallen vacant while Bouchard served as the Commander of the NATO mission in Libya.

Operation MOBILE was the Canadian Forces’ participation in the international response to the popular uprising in Libya against the regime of Moammar Gadhafi.  Operation MOBILE began on 25 February 2011 as a non-combatant evacuation mission based in Malta, and in March 2011 became a joint combat mission with air and maritime based in Italy. The combat phase concluded at 2110 hr GMT on 31 October 2011.

Conflict in Libya. The wave of popular uprisings that swept the Arabic-speaking countries of North Africa and the Middle East in the “Arab Spring” movement of 2011 began in Tunisia on 18 December 2010. Demonstrations in Libya began on 13 January 2011 and rapidly developed into armed rebellion centred on Benghazi. The government of Colonel Moammar Gadhafi reacted with widespread systematic attacks by air and ground forces that frequently targeted non-combatant civilians.

The United Nations Security Council reacted with two resolutions: 1970 of 26 February, which called for an international arms embargo on Libya and froze the assets of individuals close to the Gadhafi regime or implicated in major violations of human rights, and 1973 of 17 March, which strengthened the arms embargo and imposed a no-fly zone over Libya to ensure the safety of civilians and civilian-populated areas.

Origins of Operation MOBILE. On 24 February 2011, Minister of Foreign Affairs Lawrence Cannon announced arrangements for Canadians in Libya to leave the country, and the Government of Canada ordered a CC-177 Globemaster strategic airlifter based at Spangdahlem, Germany, to divert to Rome to stand by for a Non-combatant Evacuation Operation (NEO).

Operation MOBILE began on 25 February 2011 with the formation of Joint Task Force Malta, the Canadian Forces contribution to the whole-of-government effort led by the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) to evacuate Canadians and other foreign nationals from Libya.  Operation MOBILE became a combat mission on 19 March 2011, when a coalition joint task force led by U.S. Africa Command under Operation ODYSSEY DAWN launched air operations to enforce a no-fly zone over Libya in order to protect civilians and civilian-populated areas in Libya from the forces of the Gadhafi regime pursuant to UNSCR 1973. On 22 March 2011, the conversion of Operation MOBILE to participation in a NATO-led effort began with the launch of Operation UNIFIED PROTECTOR by the North Atlantic Council.

Origins of Operation UNIFIED PROTECTOR. Operation UNIFIED PROTECTOR began on 22 March 2011 as a NATO maritime mission enforcing the arms embargo on Libya originally described in UNSCR 1970 and strengthened in UNSCR 1973.  HMCS Charlottetown, which deployed from Halifax on 2 March 2011 and was already on station in the central Mediterranean Sea with Standing NATO Maritime Group 1, was part of the NATO fleet deployed on Operation UNIFIED PROTECTOR from the very beginning.  On 27 March 2011, the North Atlantic Council accepted responsibility for the air campaign in Libya launched under Operation ODYSSEY DAWN as well as Operation UNIFIED PROTECTOR. The transfer of command authority over engaged air assets to the Commander, Combined Joint Task Force Unified Protector (Lieutenant-General Charles Bouchard of Canada) was completed at 0600 hr GMT on 31 March 2011.  Already engaged in the air campaign under Operation ODYSSEY DAWN, Canada was also an original member of the air component of Combined Joint Task Force Unified Protector.  Operation UNIFIED PROTECTOR was successfully concluded at 2110 hr GMT on 31 October 2011.

Task forces deployed on Operation MOBILE.  Several task forces deployed to the central Mediterranean region under Operation MOBILE.  The first to deploy was Joint Task Force Malta (25 February–8 March 2011), to evacuate Canadians and other foreign nationals from Tripoli, Libya to Valletta, Malta.  The combat phase of the operation comprised the following task forces: Task Force Naples, the national coordination and support element deployed in Naples, Italy, during the initial rotation (7 March–7 August 2011).  The maritime component, consisting of a Halifax-class frigate at sea, Roto 0 (17 March–18 August 2011): Task Force Charlottetown, Roto 1 (19 August–31 October 2011): Task Force Vancouver, Task Force Libeccio, Roto 0 (19 March–7 August 2011): the air component of Operation MOBILE, Air Component Headquarters at Poggio Renatico, The Sicily Air Wing, in two detachments at Trapani-Birgi and Sigonella, Roto 1 (7 August–31 October 2011): the entire land-based component of Operation MOBILE, Task Force Libeccio Headquarters, the national command element, in Naples.  The Air Coordination Element at Poggio Renatico. The Sicily Air Wing at Trapani-Birgi and Sigonella.  At its peak, the combined personnel establishment of the task forces deployed on Operation MOBILE totalled 655 Canadian Forces members.

Joint Task Force Malta, Commanding Officer: Lieutenant-Colonel Anthony DeJacolyn.  On 25 February 2011, a Military Assistance Team made up of senior CF members who were already in the region on other assignments arrived in Valletta to establish links with regional allies and Canadian whole-of-government partners. The Military Assistance Team became the headquarters element of Joint Task Force Malta, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Anthony DeJacolyn of 1st Canadian Division Headquarters and colocated with the DFAIT team of diplomats and consular staff. That same day, a multinational Non-combatant Evacuation Operation (NEO) Coordination Centre opened in Valletta.

The CC177 Globemaster standing by in Rome arrived in Valletta at 5:35 a.m. on 26 February 2011 and made the first Canadian evacuation flight that afternoon, bringing 24 Canadians and 22 other foreign nationals from Tripoli International Airport to safety in Malta. Among this group were the staff of the Canadian Embassy in Tripoli and three Australian diplomats.  On 27 February 2011, the 13-member Operational Liaison and Reconnaissance Team arrived accompanied by medical staff to assist evacuees and military police to provide security. On 28 February 2011, Joint Task Force Malta reached full operating capability with two Globemasters, two CC-130J Hercules and about 70 military personnel, including aircrews, liaison personnel and staff officers as well as the medical staff and military police, and the ground crews supporting the aircraft.  Military evacuations continued by air and by sea until the NEO Coordination Centre established that commercial flights and sealift could accommodate any foreign nationals still in Libya who wished to leave. The CC-130J Hercules flight conducted by Joint Task Force Malta on 8 March 2011 was the last military evacuation flight out of Tripoli International Airport to Malta.  Over 11 days of operations, Joint Task Force Malta rescued 61 Canadians and 130 other foreign nationals aboard six evacuation flights — two by CC-177 Globemaster and four by CC-130J Hercules.

Task Force Naples, Commander: Colonel Paul Ormsby.  Task Force Naples deployed to Italy early in March 2011 to link CEFCOM Headquarters in Ottawa and the task forces deployed on Operation MOBILE with the command structures of NATO and U.S. AFRICOM. It stood down on 7 August 2011 with the reconfiguration of Task Force Libeccio as the land-based component of Operation MOBILE, comprising the mission’s deployed headquarters and the air component.

Task Force Naples grew out of the Liaison and Reconnaissance Team that deployed to NATO Allied Forces Command Headquarters on 7 March 2011, while Joint Task Force Malta was conducting its last flights, and remained in place as the combat phase of Operation MOBILE was taking shape. On 22 March 2011, Minister of National Defence Peter Mackay announced the formation of Task Force Naples as the national coordination and support element of Canada’s participation in NATO operations related to Libya.

Task Force Naples was responsible for resolving support and administrative issues in cooperation with the headquarters staff of Combined Joint Task Force Unified Protector, and for providing personnel for the headquarters of Combined Joint Task Force Unified Protector, including LGen Charles Bouchard’s personal staff.

(Petty Officer 1st Class William Colclough, USN Photo)

Task Force Charlottetown, Commanding Officer: Commander Craig Skjerpen. On 1 March 2011, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced that HMCS Charlottetown (FFH 339) would deploy from Halifax on 2 March to take part in Canadian and international operations already under way in Libya.  HMCS Charlottetown departed Halifax on schedule, cleared Gibraltar and joined Standing NATO Maritime Group 1 (SNMG1) on 14 March, and arrived on station in the central Mediterranean Sea on 17 March.

With the launch of Operation UNIFIED PROTECTOR on 22 March 2011, HMCS Charlottetown and the other ships of SNMG1 were assigned to Combined Task Group 455.01, a multinational formation of 16 surface vessels and two submarines built around the aircraft carrier Giuseppe Garibaldi and the replenishment ship Etna, both from the Italian Navy.  From 19 March to 18 August 2011, as Task Force Charlottetown, the maritime component of Operation MOBILE, the frigate was under tactical operational command of the NATO Maritime Component Commander, through Combined Task Group 455.01, while remaining under Canadian national command and administrative control through the Commander, Task Force Libeccio.  For most of its deployment, HMCS Charlottetown patrolled the waters immediately off Misrata, Libya, in support of the arms embargo authorized by U.N. Security Council Resolution 1970. On 12 May 2011, when it was attacked by shore-based artillery, HMCS Charlottetown became the first Canadian warship to face hostile fire since the end of the Korean War.  Over five months, HMCS Charlottetown conducted 313 hailings and five boardings of vessels of interest; provided escort support and area security for vulnerable vessels such as minesweepers and replenshipment ships; and on several occasions led Surface Action Groups defending Misrata against attacks by pro-regime forces in small boats.

Task Force Libeccio, Commander: Brigadier-General Derek Joyce.  Named for the strong southwesterly wind that blows all year in the Mediterranean, Task Force Libeccio started as the air component of Operation MOBILE and grew to comprise its entire land-based component, including the deployed headquarters in Naples as well as the air component of Canada’s participation in Operation UNIFIED PROTECTOR.

Task Force Libeccio Headquarters, Task Force Libeccio Headquarters was the deployed national command element that led, directed and managed the Canadian Forces personnel and assets deployed in Italy on Operation MOBILE after 7 August 2011.  Colocated with the headquarters of Combined Joint Task Force Unified Protector in Naples, Task Force Libeccio Headquarters was responsible for: providing the link between Canadian Expeditionary Force Command (CEFCOM) in Ottawa and Combined Joint Task Force Unified Protector to enable the participation of Canadian task forces in operations conducted under Resolution 1973; providing the CAF units deployed on Operation MOBILE with combat support and combat service support functions such as intelligence, engineering, communications, logistics and security; and providing personnel for the headquarters of Combined Joint Task Force Unified Protector.

Air Coordination Element, Air Component Commander: Colonel Alain Pelletier, The Canadian Forces air component deployed on Operation MOBILE conducted flying operations under CJTF Unified Protector through the NATO Combined Air Operations Centre 5 (CAOC 5), while remaining under Canadian operational control and national command through the Commander, Task Force Libeccio, and the Air Component Commander and his staff in the Air Coordination Element.  The Air Coordination Element was co-located with CAOC 5 in Poggio Renatico to provide a direct operational command and control link to the Commander of the Sicily Air Wing.

Sicily Air Wing, Wing Commander: Lieutenant-Colonel Daniel McLeod. The Sicily Air Wing comprised the operational flying units deployed on Operation MOBILE and their immediate support organization. The personnel of the Sicily Air Wing came from Air Force units across Canada.  The aircraft of the Sicily Air Wing flew from two locations: Trapani-Birgi, an Italian Air Force base co-located with Vincenzo Florio Airport on the western point of the island of Sicily; and Sigonella, a major naval air base on the eastern coast of Sicily.

All Sicily Air Wing missions were conducted to enforce the no-fly zone and defend civilians and civilian-populated areas in Libya, to enforce the arms embargo on Libya, or to support the efforts of other national contingents participating in Operation UNIFIED PROTECTOR.  Trapani Detachment: McDonnell Douglas CF-188 Hornet Flight, with seven aircraft (three pairs and a spare); Airbus CC-150 Polaris Flight, with two aircraft configured as in-flight refuellers (tankers); Lockheed CC-130 Hercules Flight, with two aircraft configured as in-flight refuellers, deployed from May to September 2011 to replace one CC-150 Polaris while it underwent scheduled maintenance; and Mission Support Flight.  Sigonella Detachment: Lockheed CP-140 Aurora Flight, with two aircraft.

Task Force Vancouver, Commanding Officer: Commander Bradley Peats.  HMCS Vancouver deployed from Esquimalt, B.C., on 10 July 2011, bound for the central Mediterranean Sea to join the NATO-led coalition fleet enforcing the arms embargo on Libya. The transfer of command authority formalizing the integration of HMCS Vancouver into Operation MOBILE, relieving HMCS Charlottetown, took place at Palma de Mallorca, Spain, on 18 August 2011.  While HMCS Vancouver conducted maritime operations under Combined Joint Task Force Unified Protector, through the NATO Maritime Component Commander and Combined Task Group 455.01, it remained under Canadian national command and administrative control through the Commander, Task Force Libeccio. Taskings for HMCS Vancouver included escorting and providing air defence for vulnerable vessels such as mine-countermeasures vessels and replenishment ships, and patrolling the embargo zone to gather information and ensure that prohibited materiel did not enter Libya.

Non-Article 5 NATO Medal for Service on NATO Operation UNIFIED PROTECTOR - LIBYA Medal.

Syria, 2014

(DND Photo)

On 26 Nov 2019, MGen Jennie Carignan officially assumed command of the NATO Mission Iraq (NMI) from MGen Dany Fortin at a Transfer of Authority Ceremony held at the Forward Operating Base Union III, Baghdad, Iraq.

NATO Mission Iraq (NMI) Medal.

Security Force in the Mediterranean Region, 2012

Operation METRIC was Canada’s periodic participation in international efforts to enhance security in the eastern Mediterranean region, specifically the Middle East and North Africa.  The Arab Spring and the rapid political changes that followed it led the Government of Canada to broaden its approach to security challenges in the Middle East and North Africa region. One result was the development of Operation METRIC as a flexible mission that can be used to deliver task-tailored Canadian contributions to a wide range of multinational initiatives in the region.  The first task force to deploy under Operation METRIC was Her Majesty's Canadian Ship (HMCS) Charlottetown, which served with the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) fleet conducting Operation ACTIVE ENDEAVOUR in the Mediterranean Sea from 25 January to 29 April 2012.

Part of NATO's multi-faceted response to terrorism, Operation ACTIVE ENDEAVOUR is a maritime mission conducted in the Mediterranean Sea by surface ships, submarines and maritime patrol aircraft under the overall command of Joint Forces Command Naples and directed from Allied Maritime Component Command Naples. These vessels conduct maritime security operations to demonstrate NATO's resolve to deter and disrupt terrorism, and defend civilians and civilian assets against it.

Canada's formal participation in Operation ACTIVE ENDEAVOUR began in 2004, with Operation SIRIUS. From 15 October to 14 December 2004, two CP-140 Aurora maritime patrol aircraft with crews and ground staff from 14 Wing Greenwood, Nova Scotia, were deployed in Italy to fly long-range missions over the Mediterranean Sea from the NATO air base at Sigonella, on the island of Sicily.

Mali, 2013

(RCAF Photo)

Boeing CC-177 Globemaster III (Serial No. 177704), escorted by a McDonnell Douglas CF-188 Hornet (Serial No. 188790) from No. 425 Squadron, Bagotville, Quebec.

The Canadian Armed Forces supported the Government of France’s Operation SERVAL, their military intervention in the West African country of Mali, from 15 January to 31 March 2013.  Canada's contribution to French operations in Mali consisted of one Boeing CC-177 Globemaster III heavy lift transport aircraft and about 40 Royal Canadian Air Force personnel: flight and maintenance crews from 429 Transport Squadron and traffic technicians from 2 Air Movements Squadron, both units of 8 Wing Trenton in southern Ontario.  Air Task Force Mali conducted 48 flights to transport about 1,618,600 kilograms (3,560,920 pounds) of cargo.  The mandate of Air Task Force Mali was limited to airlift, and specifically excluded combat.  The airlifts included assets such as personnel, vehicles and resupply equipment (food, water, medical equipment, etc.).  The CC-177 Globemaster III departed Trenton for Europe on 15 January 2013 and conducted the first operational sortie of this deployment on 17 January, transporting a French light armoured vehicle, medical supplies and ammunition from Evreux, France, to Bamako, the capital of Mali.

From September to December 2015, the Canadian Armed Forces supported the Government of France’s Operation BARKHANE, the French counter-terrorism operation in the Sahel region of Africa.  The CAF conducted three airlift missions using a Royal Canadian Air Force CC-177 Globemaster III strategic airlift aircraft. The CAF transported French military personnel and equipment from France to two locations within the Sahel region of Africa: N’Djamena, Chad and Niamey, Niger.  The first flight occurred on 28 Sep 2015, the second on 24 Nov 2015, and the third on 12 Dec 2015, for a total of 79700 kg.  For all three flights, the aircraft flew from Évreux-Fauville Air Base (France) to Diori Hamani International Airport (Niamey, Niger).  CAF aircraft operated in non-combat environments within Chad and Niger while providing strategic airlift support to the French Operation BARKHANE.

(DND Photo)

RCAF Chinook and Griffon helicopters, Mali, with crews from 403 Squadron, 5 CDSB Gagetown, 2019.

Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) Medal.

Hurricane relief in the Caribbean, 2017

In early September 2017, Hurricane Irma hit the Caribbean. Hurricane Maria followed a few weeks later.  These large-scale storms caused widespread damage and a need for humanitarian aid and relief, including aid workers, fresh water and supplies.

Maritime Task Force.  HMCS St. John’s and its Sikorsky CH-124 Sea King helicopter detachment deployed on this operation. Following Hurricane Irma, it helped with relief efforts in the Turks and Caicos.  There it removed debris, restored power and water sources, scouted the area, delivered water to locals, and assessed underwater damage.  Following Hurricane Maria, HMCS St. John’s transited to Dominica.  There it cleared debris and conducted repairs on land.  The Sea King delivered water and supplies and transported personnel.  It also conducted four medical evacuations shortly after it arrived.  In total, the Maritime Task Force produced about 27 000 litres of water using HMCS St. John’s desalination system, and delivered about 157 000 lbs of cargo.

Air Task Force.  A Boeing CC-177 Globemaster provided airlift support to American relief efforts in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.  Based out of Barbados, two Lockheed CC-130J Hercules aircraft provided airlift support to partner nations. This support included airlifting the Jamaican Defence Force’s Disaster Assistance Response Team and equipment to Dominica.  Also based out of Barbados, a lockheed CP-140 Aurora captured imagery of affected areas. Partner nations used this imagery to assess and respond to the aftermath of the hurricanes.  A Boeing CC-177 Globemaster supported France by transporting equipment and supplies from Bordeaux to Guadeloupe. As arranged by GAC, on its return flight it flew 66 evacuees and two service dogs from St. Maarten and the Turks and Caicos to Toronto.  A Lockheed CC-130J Hercules flew humanitarian supplies from Mississauga to the British Virgin Islands. As arranged by GAC, on its return flight it transported Canadians citizens and government officials to Toronto.

In total, the Air Task Force evacuated about 300 people and transported about 847 000 lbs of cargo.  Joint Task Force.  The CAF had a command, control, and liaison team in Barbados. Its role was to facilitate CAF support to partners in the region.  It also supported Global Affairs Canada disaster assessment.  From September 9 to October 15, 2017, the CAF supported Hurricane Irma and Maria relief in the Caribbean under Operation RENAISSANCE IRMA MARIA.  The CAF conducted this operation in support of Global Affairs Canada.  

Canadian Forces Missions currently ongoing:

14 +- Royal Canadian Navy pers visit Tunisia to conduct combined training with the Tunisian Navy.

9+- CAF pers are deployed on Op CROCODILE, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). MONUSCO HQ in Kinshasa, & HQ in Goma.

CAF aircraft support Operation FREQUENCE, moving French military equipment and personnel between France and the Sahel region of Africa.

Operation NABERIUS is a military training mission in Niger. Under this mission, the CAF is training the Forces armées nigériennes (FAN).

10 CAF members are deployed on Operation SOPRANO, with the United Nations (UN) Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS).

Operation IMPACT is the CAF support to the Global Coalition to degrade and ultimately defeat Daesh in Iraq and Syria.

Observer Group Golan supports the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) on the Golan Heights between Israel and Syria.

Observer Group Lebanon supports the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).

Operation NEON, UN sanctions imposed against North Korea.

( Photo)

Vladimir Putin, a Russian politician and former intelligence officer who has served as President of Russia since 2012, previously holding the position from 1999 until 2008.  He was also the Prime Minister of Russia from 1999 to 2000 and again from 2008 to 2012.

The threat remains...

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