About 30 Canadian Forces’ personnel flew out of Edmonton on their way to Ukraine Thursday morning as part of Operation UNIFIER.
Soldiers from Edmonton’s 3rd Canadian Division – which used to be called Land Force Western Area – and some from Canadian Forces Base Shilo, Man. left shortly after 8 a.m.
They’re part of a group of 200 soldiers from Western Canada that will relieve their counterparts from Quebec. The Quebec troops have been in Ukraine for about a year.
UNIFIER is a joint-support mission between the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. Canadian soldiers will “support Ukrainian forces through capacity building,” National Defence said.
Col. William Fletcher, commander of 1 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group, said it will be a six-month tour for most of the members, who bring a lot of experience with them.
“We’re seeing everybody from your average infantrymen conducting actual line training in small unit tactical through to specialists in linguistics, purchasing, contracting, signals, across the board.”
The Canadian Forces’ focus in Ukraine will be on “tactical soldier training,” which, according to the Canadian Forces website, includes individual weapons training, marksmanship, moving, communication, survival and ethics training.
“Our Canadian values are part of what makes us good at what we do,” Fletcher said. “That respect for law, respect for rule of law, the anti-corruption, the ability to trust, those are things that are very, very valuable when it comes to the nitty-gritty, dirty face of warfare.”
He said these troops will be more than 1,000 kilometres away from counter-insurgency battle.
Capt. Derek Reid says the operation is strictly non-combat. He calls it a partnership and a win-win for both sides.
The 3rd Canadian Division is responsible for all army administration and operations in western Canada and is headquartered in Edmonton.
The division has approximately 5,500 Regular Force soldiers, 4,600 Primary Reserve Force soldiers, 1,200 civilian employees and 900 Canadian Rangers.
With files from The Canadian Press