Petawawa soldiers heading to Ukraine
Sean Chase/Daily Observer Lt.-Col.Fraser Auld, commander of Joint Task Force-Ukraine, addresses a departure ceremony for Operation Unifier Roto 5 Thursday at Garrison Petawawa. A contingent of 200 local soldiers will be heading to eastern Europe for a six-month rotation.
GARRISON PETAWAWA – Soldiers from 2 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group (2CMBG) said farewell Thursday as they embarked on another deployment to the Ukraine to train a military battling a Russian-backed separatist insurgency.
Under Operation: Unifier, personnel mostly made up from the Royal Canadian Dragoons will be assigned to provide specialized training and skill sets to Ukrainian forces who continue to engage Russian-backed separatists in the breakaway eastern republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The task force of 200 troops, which includes augmentees from across Canada, will deploy in September for a seven-month tour on the sixth rotation of the mission, which began in September 2015, and the third to come from Petawawa.
The contingent formed up for a brief parade at the Victoria Barracks Y-101 drill hall. Among the VIPs assembled for the occasion was Andriy Shevchenko, Ukrainian ambassador to Canada, who expressed his deep gratitude and encouraged the troops to take in as much of his country’s culture and hospitality as they could. Lt.-Col. Fraser Auld, commanding officer of the RCD and the task force’s commander, told them this will be a two-way exchange in which they can learn alot about the tactics, techniques and procedures employed by the Ukraine military.
“Our mission is just,” said Lt.-Col. Auld. “This brigade is ready to represent Canada honourably and ready to work side-by-side with our Ukrainian counterparts.”
The scope of training that the Petawawa instructors have provided include small arms marksmanship, defusing improvised explosive devices or IED's, infantry fighting tactics, communications, mounting mechanized operations, logistical support, and medical training in providing basic first aid and casualty evacuation. Lt.-Col. Auld reminded the task force that they will be the ambassadors for Canada during the mission.
“The expectations placed upon us are clear and unequivocal,” he added. “We are expected to deliver results with skill and ethical professionalism that the Canadian Armed Forces is known for. I know we will all make Canada proud.”
So far, Canadian troops have trained more than 6,000 Ukrainian soldiers. The Liberal government has pledged its support to the mission until at least March 2019. Cassian Soltykevych, an executive with the Ukrainian-Canadian Congress, expressed his gratitude noting that Canada's involvement is emblematic of the strong bond between their two nations.
“We are truly proud of you and we are thankful for all that you do,” said Soltykevych.
Upon arrival, the task force will be based out of the International Peacekeeping and Security Centre in Starychi. Other elements will work at the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence Demining Centre in Kamyanets-Podilsky. In his message to the contingent, Col. Michael Wright, commander of 2CMBG, told them they need to uphold the finest skills and professionalism in order to have credibility in the eyes of the Ukrainian military.
“To the soldiers deploying I ask that you continue to be great ambassadors for 2CMBG and for the Canadian Armed Forces,” Col. Wright said.