After months of preparation, the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) have begun to deploy their personnel to prepare for when the remaining troops arrive in Mali.
“There are only 50 people going today, but it’s mostly task force leadership. Main people from the aviation battalion, so some pilots and technicians will also be going today,” said Melanie Aqiqi, Public Affairs Officer.
The command team of Task Force Mali includes the Commander, Colonel Chris McKenna, his Deputy Commander, Lieutenant-Colonel Jill Bishop, and his Chief Warrant Officer, Dan Baulne.
“We have something called the Theatre Activation Team, and they go in advance to one, receive the equipment that we are sending overseas to be able to do our mission, as well as to make those partnerships with people on the ground we are handing over with,” said Aqiqi.
In this case, Canadians will be relieving the German contingent and preparing for the entirety of the Task Force of about 250 personnel.
“The entire mission mandate is one year, and we’ll have two rotations of personnel, but the maximum is 250 personnel,” said Aqiqi.
Canada’s mission, while serving in Mali, is forward aeromedical evacuation. Medical personnel will ride in the back of a Chinook helicopter, with a contingent of Griffon helicopters, facilitating in medical evacuations in support of the UN mission.
“I just think it’s a great opportunity for Canada to start being involved again in UN missions and we look forward to projecting this capability for the UN, which was sorely missed,” said Aqiqi. “The UN definitely requires it, and we’re glad we’re able to provide that for them.”