Peacekeeping Operations: A Progress Report

May 1, 1998 by Legion Magazine


by Ray Dick

“It has been pretty busy around here,” says Lieutenant-Colonel Roy Forestell as he shuffles through operations reports on Canadian troops serving on peacekeeping missions and other operations around the world. In a quieter area of the tightly locked National Defence operations centre in downtown Ottawa, with a view through a glass partition of a world map and clocks showing the various time zones, the senior staff officer sips a coffee and discusses the latest mission by Canadian Forces on the international scene.

It was late February and the Forces had just dispatched 400 personnel to the Persian Gulf as part of the threatened attack by U.S.-led forces against Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. The threat was in response to Iraq’s refusal to allow United Nation’s weapons inspectors in to check for nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.

The Canadian contingent included personnel of HMCS Toronto and the crews of two Hercules tankers for in-air refueling. The mission, called Operation Determination, was the 39th assignment abroad that Canada has participated in since the late l940s. That number represents almost all of the UN missions, and several North Atlantic Treaty Organization operations, undertaken since the UN was founded in San Francisco in 1945.

The cost of supporting these missions has been high; more than 100 Canadian peacekeepers have been killed since Canada recorded its first peacekeeping fatality in July 1950. That was when reserve officer Brigadier-General H.H. Angle was killed in a plane crash while helping the UN supervise a truce between India and Pakistan.

The most recent operations reports–the ones sitting in front of Forestell–show that some 1,800 Canadian troops are involved in 15 missions at various locations around the world. The following is a summary of Canada’s current contributions to UN and NATO missions and operations, starting with the largest in the former Yugoslavia.

SFOR
Stabilization Force, Operation Palladium

Bosnia-Herzegovina

Background: Although the roots of the current conflict in the Balkans can be traced back to the 1920s, fighting broke out in the region in the summer of 1991, after Slovenia and Croatia declared their independence from Yugoslavia. Since then, both the nature of the conflict and the international community’s response have evolved.

Authority and Mandate: The UN in December 1995 gave a mandate to NATO to deploy an Implementation Force, IFOR, for one year. In December 1996 it was agreed that a continued international military presence was required, and the UN Security Council adopted a resolution which created Stabilization Force, SFOR, for the following 18 months. SFOR, with an initial strength of 31,000 troops, concentrated on stabilizing the current secure environment in which local authorities and international agencies work. SFOR can take military action, including the use of necessary force to ensure compliance with the General Framework Agreement for Peace (Dayton peace accord).

SFOR will contribute to the secure environment necessary for the consolidation of peace. Its mission includes the following goals: To deter or prevent a resumption of hostilities, to consolidate IFOR’s achievements and to promote a climate in which the peace process can go forward and to provide selective support to civilian organizations.

Canada’s Role: In December 1996, the Canadian government announced it would contribute a well-equipped force of 1,200 personnel to the NATO-led SFOR. Operation Palladium is Canada’s largest peacekeeping commitment. It consists of an infantry battalion group deployed throughout an area in the western part of Bosnia-Herzegovina equivalent to the size of Prince Edward Island. It operates within a multinational force that also includes battalions from Czechoslovakia, the United Kingdom, Malaysia and the Netherlands. The Canadian contribution of more than 1,200 men and women includes troops from a battle group of the Royal Canadian Regiment.

As part of SFOR, the Canadian Forces will help ensure that all forces in Bosnia-Herzegovina comply with the military aspects of the Dayton peace accord.

There are also 12 Canadians serving on NATO’s Operation Bison out of Rimini, Italy, which involves airlifts, medical evacuations and movement of troops and supplies into and out of the Bosnia-Herzegovina area. Another 10 personnel are involved in NAEWF, NATO’s Airborne Early Warning Force that operates long-range maritime patrol aircraft out of bases in Italy. The aircraft, flown by multinational crews from 11 NATO nations, including Canada, are used to monitor and enforce embargos on vessels approaching the former Yugoslavia.

There are an additional two Canadian Forces officers serving in the former Yugoslavia area, one in UNMOP, United Nations Mission of Observers in Prevlaka. These people help monitor the situation in the southern tip of Croatia bordering the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The other Canadian officer is working with UNPREDEP, United Nations Preventive Deployment Force in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. The job there is to monitor the situation.

There are also six Canadian Forces personnel serving with UNMACBH, United Nations Mine Action Centre in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

UNDOF
United Nations Disengagement Observer Force, Operation Danaca

Israel-Syria

Background: Following hostilities between Syria and Israel in the early 1970s, the two countries signed a ceasefire agreement. The United Nations Disengagement Observer Force, UNDOF, was created in 1974.

Authority and Mandate: UNDOF was created by UN Security Council resolutions in 1974 and 1994. The mandate is to supervise the ceasefire, supervise the redeployment of Israeli and Syrian forces (completed) and to establish a buffer zone between the two countries. About 1,050 troops from Canada, Austria, Poland and Japan are deployed under UNDOF. Mission headquarters are located at Camp Faour in Syria, with a detachment in Camp Ziouani in Israel.

Canada’s Role: Canada initially provided 226 military personnel when the mission was launched in 1974, but the Canadian contingent has since been scaled down to 185. Canadian Forces personnel serve on the Golan Heights between Israel and Syria, providing second-line logistic support to the force in supply and maintenance. Canada also supplies communications detachments to all UNDOF units. Canadian troops carry C-7 rifles, C-9 machine-guns and 9-mm pistols in performing their duties.

MFO
Multinational Force and Observers, Operation Calumet

Sinai-Egypt

Background: The historic Camp David Accords between Israel and Egypt in 1979 led to the creation of the MFO later that year.

Authority and Mandate: The MFO’s mandate is to supervise the implementation of the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt in accordance with the Camp David Accords. About 1,955 military personnel from 11 countries are involved in the peacekeeping mission, operating observation posts and checkpoints and using air, sea and land patrols to ensure adherence to the treaty. The MFO headquarters is located in Rome, Italy. The mission has a mandate of indefinite duration.

Canada’s Role: Canada initially committed one utility helicopter unit and 140 Canadian Forces personnel to MFO in 1986. That commitment has since been scaled down to 28 personnel, including an air traffic control unit and various administrative and support personnel located in El Gorah, Egypt. The Canadians are armed with C-7 rifles.

UNTSO
United Nations Truce Supervision Organization

Middle East: Israel, Egypt, Jordan,Syria, Lebanon

Background: Following hostilities in the Middle East in the late 1940s, the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization, UNTSO, was established in 1948. Since 1954, Canada has continually provided military observers to this mission.

Authority and Mandate: The mission authorized by UN resolutions assists in supervising the general armistice agreement concluded separately between Israel and Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria in 1949. Approximately 200 military observers and 90 civilian staff from 20 countries participate in UNTSO. The mission’s headquarters is in Jerusalem.

Canada’s Role: Currently there are 11 Canadian Forces personnel assigned to UNTSO. Canadian tasks include monitoring, supervision and observation of ceasefire agreements, and providing observers on the Golan Heights, in south Lebanon and in the Sinai.

MIPONUH
Mission de Police des Nations Unies en Haïti

Haiti

Background and Authority: The UN Security Council established MIPONUH by resolution in November 1997 as the follow-on mission for the UN Transition Mission in Haiti, UNTMIH. At one time, support and transition missions were led by Canada and involved UN forces totalling 1,200, including approximately 650 Canadians and 550 Pakistanis. The mandate was to restore ousted Haitian President Jean Bertrand Aristide to power after he was overthrown in a coup d’état. That mission was accomplished and ceased operations in November 1997. Canadian personnel returned to Canada over the next month.

Canadian involvement in MIPONUH involves provision of armored personnel carriers, Canadian Forces driving instructors and vehicle technicians. Canada is also providing eight military police and three staff officers as a close-out security force for UNTMIH.

UNDPCMAC
UN Development Program Cambodian Mine Action Centre

Cambodia

Background: Since the beginning of the civil war in Cambodia and the Vietnamese invasion in 1978, between six to 10 million land-mines have been planted throughout the Cambodian countryside. When UN peacekeepers deployed to Cambodia in 1991 and 1992, the degree of devastation wrought by mines, killing and maiming thousands of innocent Cambodians each year, became evident to the international community. UNDPCMAC was established in 1993 to help rid the country of land-mines.

Authority and Mandate: Under authority of UN resolution, the Cambodian Mine Action Centre has a mandate to conduct, and to train Cambodians to carry out, large scale de-mining activities, eventually independent of international technical assistance. CMAC includes 41 de-mining platoons, 10 explosive ordnance disposal teams and 16 mine-marking teams. There are 1,556 Cambodians on staff as well as 19 international military technical advisers who are provided through the UN Development Program from Canada and four other countries.

Canada’s Role: The current Canadian contribution is seven unarmed personnel, including the chief adviser operations and military engineers. Although small in numbers, Canadian Forces personnel have provided technical assistance and leadership to CMAC. The Department of National Defence also notes that it is one of the least costly UN peacekeeping activities carried out by the Canadian Forces.

UNIKOM
United Nations Iraq-Kuwait Observer Mission, Operation Record

Iraq-Kuwait

Background: Following the Persian Gulf War in 1991, UNIKOM was created to monitor the internationally recognized boundary.

Authority and Mandate: Authorized by UN Security Council resolutions in 1991 and 1993, UNIKOM monitors the Khawr Abd Allah waterway and the demilitarized zone between Iraq and Kuwait to ensure compliance with the boundaries established by the Iraq-Kuwait Boundary Demarcation Committee in 1993. The mission is made up of 195 military observers from 31 countries, 1,000 military personnel and 175 civilians, with headquarters in a former Iraqi naval hospital in Umm Qasr.

Canada’s Role: When UNIKOM was established Canada provided one senior officer to serve at mission headquarters and one regiment consisting of 300 Canadian Forces personnel of all ranks. The commitment has since been scaled back to four military observers.

In addition, two Canadians are serving with UNSCOM, United Nations Special Commission, with offices in Iraq and New York. It is charged with inspection and destruction of Iraq’s ballistic missiles as well as its chemical, nuclear and biological facilities. Up to 12 CF specialists are authorized to participate in UNSCOM. At present, because of rotation of duties with other countries, there are only two Canadians serving, and they are in the New York office.

In addition, Canada contributes under its commitment to the North American Aerospace Defence Command, Norad, some 45 personnel to AWACS, the United States Air Force Airborne Warning and Control System, at Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma and Howard Air Force Base in Panama. Nine Forces personnel attached to Tinker air base are deployed for the monitoring of no-fly zones over southern and northern Iraq.

UNFICYP

United Nations Forces In Cyprus, Operation Snowgoose

Cyprus

Background: In 1959, Cyprus gained independence after a period of guerilla war. Extremist elements still demanded union with Greece, while Turks favored division of the island along ethnic lines. UNFICYP was established to maintain law and order.

Authority and mandate: Authorized by UN Security Council resolution in 1964, the current mandate is to maintain the status quo at the time of the 1974 ceasefire agreement, restore normal conditions and provide humanitarian aid. The force maintains a buffer zone on the island between Greeks and Turks.

Canada’s Role: Canada contributed to peacekeeping in Cyprus for 29 years, with 1,200 personnel in 58 contingents serving on the island. In 1992, the Canadian government decided to withdraw the Canadian battalion. Its close-out was completed in September of the following year. Currently, Canada maintains three personnel at the headquarters staff in Nicosia.

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