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Canadian troops train Ukrainian Armed Forces in Operation UNIFIER

At the request of the Ukrainian government, the CAF has partnered with the Ukrainian Armed Forces to focus on tactical soldier training. Currently, close to 200 soldiers, mainly from Garrison Petawawa, are deployed to Ukraine for Operation UNIFIER.

“The Ukrainian Armed Forces is going through a huge internal shift. They’ve asked for our help because of the respect they have for our country and soldiers. It’s extremely satisfying and humbling. We are training a nation that is at those crossroads…They’re ready to move forward in a different direction,” said Major Cindy Legarie, Deputy Task Force Commander.

Canadian military personnel are stationed in three locations. The primary location is the International Peacekeeping and Security Centre in Starychi. They are also stationed at the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence Demining Centre in Kamyanets-Podilsky and Kiev, capitol of the city.

The major goal of the mission is the training of the Ukrainian Armed Forces through staff training at military academies. In partnership with the Ukrainian Armed Forces, hundreds of students are being taught by the CAF. The goal is the training will contribute to Ukraine’s Armed Forces capacity building and professionalism.

“The way we do that is to make sure the Ukrainians have a voice in everything that we do. They’re involved with identifying what needs training and the way we’re going to deliver the lessons. We are very interested in learning from them because they’ve been involved in complex missions, and we have respect for their experience and we want to learn from that. We’ve built a really good partnership with the Ukrainian soldiers,” stated Legarie.

Specifically, training includes weapons training, marksmanship, communication skills, ethics training and flight safety. Medical training for causality evacuation and combat first aid and military police training and investigation techniques are also being taught.

“One of the things that we are really working on with them is instilling that pride in their junior leadership…They [junior leadership] have a lot of initiative and pride and great ideas for the way they want to move forward. We are encouraging them and teaching them how we encourage our junior leaders to bring plans and take ownership of their operations,” noted Legarie.

The CAF involvement in Ukraine was first announced earlier this year by then prime minister, Stephen Harper, who also pledged more than $700 million in additional assistance to Ukraine. The current mandate requires CAF personnel to remain in Ukraine until March 31, 2017.
Currently, the soldiers from Garrison Petawawa are from the 1st Battalion, the Royal Canadian Regiment and 2 Combat Engineer Regiment. Any follow-up deployments will include troops from 5 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group at CFB Valcartier.

By the time Legarie’s rotation leaves, she expects the Ukrainian soldiers going back to anti-terrorist operations in the east will be trained but most importantly the infrastructure for delivering training courses in the academies will be established.

Major Legarie believes the military personnel deployed to Ukraine have showcased the best of the CAF.

“One thing I’ve found is the CAF soldiers are extremely professional and are proud to pass on their knowledge to Ukrainian soldiers. I’m extremely proud of our soldiers and especially junior officers who have really built this mission from scratch they’ve taken on the challenge of learning how another military works,” noted Legarie.

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Cyndi Mills

Over the last 24 years Cyndi Mills has had the opportunity to move around the country with her husband, Scott and their four children. Having lived in Chilliwack, Edmonton, London and Petawawa. She stumbled into the world of journalism by accident – looking for a career that could give her the flexibility to work from home to be with her children and support her husband's military career. Cyndi is also a military parent as her two oldest children are in the military.

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