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    Task Force Commander and Commander of 3rd Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment Lieutenant Colonel Kris Reeves leads the parade. (Photo by Patricia Leboeuf, Petawawa Post)

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    Garrison Petawawa-based personnel deploying to Ukraine gathered at Centennial Park, many of them with their families, for a departure ceremony on August 24. (Photo by Patricia Leboeuf, Petawawa Post)

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    A representative from the Ukrainian Canadian Congress Cassian Soltykevych heartedly thanks Canadian soldiers for their part in training Ukrainian troops. (Photo by Patricia Leboeuf, Petawawa Post)

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    nized Brigade Group (2 CMBG) Commander Colonel Michael Wright spoke highly of those on parade, and their preparations for the overseas deployment. About 200 CAF members will be leaving in September to take part in the seven-month long mission, Operation UNIFIER. (Photo by Patricia Leboeuf, Petawawa Post)



Petawawa-based Task Force headed to Ukraine

By: Patricia Leboeuf

Posted on Thursday August 31, 2017

About 200 Canadian Armed Forces members, most of them from 3rd Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment (3 RCR), will be heading to Ukraine in September to take part in the seven-month long mission, Operation UNIFIER.

These soldiers are the fifth rotation from Canada and their primary focus in Ukraine will be on tactical soldier training. “We are just delighted to be able to support Ukraine and build on the long friendship we already have,” said Task Force Commander and 3rd Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel Kris Reeves.

2 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group (2 CMBG) Commander Colonel Michael Wright pointed out that since Russia’s aggressive action in 2014, Canada has been at the forefront with support. “Operation Unifier is just part of Canada’s whole government support to democracy, development, security and humanitarian efforts,” said Col Wright.

In the last three and a half years, Ukrainian troops have undergone a profound transformation. They have been shaped into a proper fighting force that their countrymen can be proud of.

This is due in no small part to Canada and its allies, said Cassian Soltykevych, a representative from the Ukrainian Canadian Congress. “Over 4,800 Ukrainian soldiers have received training under Operation UNIFIER and this training has greatly enhanced their ability to defend their country,” said Soltykevych, thanking the men and woman on parade for their efforts in keeping Ukraine’s sovereignty intact.

As he addressed his troops, LCol Reeves noted how lucky Canadians are. “Nobody is attacking our borders, nobody is encroaching on our sovereignty,” said the Task Force Commander. “That’s not the same in the Ukraine. For us to dedicate this year in our life to increasing the professionalism and capabilities of the Ukrainian Armed Forces I have to say, it is almost the least we can do.”

While overseas, Canadians will help train Ukrainian soldiers in small team training, which consists principally of individual weapons training, marksmanship, movement in areas of potential conflict, explosive threat recognition, communication in troop movement and command and control, survival in combat, ethics as well as explosive device disposal training, and military police training. This consists of Use of Force and Basic Investigative Techniques courses, medical training that provides casualty evacuation and combat first aid training, and modernizing logistics. “The Government of Canada support is aimed at bolstering Ukraine’s efforts to maintain their sovereignty, their stability and their security,” said Col Wright.

Canadian-led training began in the summer of 2015 and takes place mainly at the International Peacekeeping and Security Centre (IPSC) in Starychi. 1st Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment (1 RCR) led the first mission, laying a strong groundwork for those who followed. “Now you are ready not only to be great ambassadors for the Canadian Armed Forces but be great ambassadors for Canada itself,” said Col Wright to those in attendance.

The ceremony was held on Aug. 24 to mark this occasion as well as the 26th anniversary of Ukraine establishing itself as an independent state. Family members were invited to attend and enjoy the Centennial Park amenities while the soldiers stood on parade. LCol Reeves explained that the location was chosen on purpose with the families in mind and pledged that those who remained behind would be well taken care of. “Speaking to the families of all the Task Force right now, even those who aren’t here right now, we will support you,” said LCol Reeves. “We have put system and structure in place.”

The Government of Canada has pledged more than $700 million to help Ukraine and has extended Op UNIFIER until the end of March 2019.