Operation UNIFIER

Operation UNIFIER is the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) mission to support Armed Forces of Ukraine in Ukraine. The operation’s focus is to assist them with military training. This will help them improve and build their military capacity. The CAF coordinates its training with training by the U.S. and other countries that help in the same way. Military training is one part of Canada’s overall support to Ukraine.

The CAF launched Operation UNIFIER in response to requests from the Government of Ukraine.  Global Affairs Canada also provides support. The intent is to help Ukraine remain sovereign, secure, and stable.

The training mission falls under a Multinational Joint Commission. This commission includes Canada, Ukraine, the United Kingdom and the United States. Canada became a member in January 2015. It co-chairs the Sub-Committee on Military Policing with Ukraine.

As of May 1, 2018, the CAF Joint Task Force-Ukraine (JTF-U) has trained more than 6900 Ukrainian soldiers. There have been 148 course serials that covered all types of training.

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On May 18, 2018, the Department of National Defence/ Canadian Armed Forces signed a Technical Arrangement with the Ministry of Interior of Ukraine.

The arrangement establishes how Ukraine will support CAF members deployed on Operation UNIFIER. It also outlines procedures for the following:

  • military training
  • capacity building
  • professional development

The arrangement promotes mutual understanding, confidence, efficiency, professionalism, and cooperation between the CAF and Ukraine.

The Task Force

Canada has sent about 200 CAF members to Ukraine. They will be there until the end of March 2019. The members come from all parts of Canada. They were sent based on the skills that they brought to the training program. The current CAF group is mostly troops from the 3rd Canadian Division.

CAF members are sent to Ukraine on both a periodic and long-term basis. The length depends on the type of training being conducted.

The CAF’s primary focus in Ukraine is on tactical soldier training. This is also known as collective and small team training. It consists 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

Other training includes:

  • explosive device disposal training
  • 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
  • modernizing logistics

The training began in Summer 2015. It is taking place mainly at the International Peacekeeping and Security Centre (IPSC) in Starychi. Troops also train at:

  • the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence Demining Centre in Kamyanets-Podilsky
  • other locations in western Ukraine

The CAF is also a partner with Ukraine in the Military Training and Cooperation Program (MTCP). This is an ongoing program. It was running before the launch of Operation UNIFIER. It offers training to:

  • help with peace support operations
  • help Ukraine armed forces work better with others
  • help build military capacity
  • help with professional development

Mission Context

CAF training is one part of Canada’s broader support to Ukraine in:

  • development
  • security
  • democracy
  • humanitarian aid

Since January 2014, the Government of Canada has announced more than $700 million in additional help for Ukraine. This funding is for a broad range of projects to:

  • strengthen security
  • promote economic stability and growth
  • advance democracy, human rights and the rule of law
  • promote a civil society

Canada’s help to Ukraine includes supplying non-lethal military gear. This is an ongoing process. Canada continues to buy and ship such things as:

  • communications systems used for field operations
  • a mobile field hospital
  • explosive disposal equipment
  • medical kits used for military field operations
  • night vision goggles

The equipment will help improve the Armed Forces of Ukraine's capabilities.

Canada and Ukraine

  • November 28, 2014 – The first shipment of donated non-lethal military gear arrived in Ukraine. It was sent via a Royal Canadian Air Force CC-177 Globemaster. It was cold weather clothing destined to the Armed Forces of Ukraine members. It included about:
    • 3000 pairs of boots
    • 2400 coats
    • 3500 pants
    • 3300 pairs of gloves
  • December 8, 2014 – The Minister of National Defence announced that Canada had signed an agreement with Ukraine. The agreement covered joint military training and capacity building.
  • January 10, 2015 – The first of two shipments by sea docked in Ukraine. It was non-lethal military gear.
  • January 29, 2015 – The second of two shipments by sea docked in Ukraine. It was non-lethal military gear.
  • November 28, 2015 – Joint Task Force Ukraine helped deliver about $3 million dollars’-worth of equipment for explosives disposal.  It was sent by the Government of Canada.

Mission timeline

  • April 14, 2015 – The Government of Canada announced that Canada would send about 200 CAF members to Ukraine. The mission would run until March 31, 2017.
  • September 14, 2015 – Dual ceremonies were held in Ukraine. They marked the start of the CAF military training mission. One was held in Starychi. The other in Kamyanets-Podilsky.
  • November 23, 2015 – Canada, Lithuania, Ukraine, the United Kingdom and the United States held a parade. This marked the stand-up of the Joint Multi-National Training Group – Ukraine headquarters. The HQ is in Starychi.
  • March 6, 2017 – The Government of Canada announced that it has extended Operation UNIFIER until the end of March 2019.
  • March 2017 – About 200 Canadian Army members deployed to relieve their counterparts. Both groups (deploying and coming back) are mainly from the 3rd Canadian Division.
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