Operation PRESENCE (Africa)

Summary

  • The Canadian Armed Forces’ contributions to the Government of Canada’s peace operations strategy are collectively known as Operation PRESENCE. Canada has committed to providing high-value military capabilities to United Nations peacekeeping missions.
  • Canada’s defence policy, Strong Secure Engaged, acknowledges that the Canadian Armed Forces must be prepared to contribute to peace and stability abroad in order to maintain security at home, including through enhanced engagement in United Nations peacekeeping.

Background

  • During the United Nations (UN) Peacekeeping Defence Ministerial in Vancouver in November 2017, Canada announced its intention to increase support for UN peacekeeping. This announcement included the launch of the Vancouver Principles on Peacekeeping and the Prevention of the Recruitment and Use of Child Soldiers, and the Elsie Initiative on Women in Peace Operations.
  • Canada also committed to providing high-value military capabilities to UN peacekeeping missions, including an aviation task force, tactical airlift support, a Canadian Training and Advisory Team, innovative training support, and a Quick Reaction Force. Such deployments would include no more than 600 personnel.
  • The Canadian Armed Forces contributions to this strategy are collectively known as Operation PRESENCE. Because the strategy is being delivered in multiple countries, a country descriptor is attached to the name of the operation. For example, Operation PRESENCE (Mali) refers to the Canadian Armed Forces capabilities deployed in Mali in support of the UN mission in Mali (MINUSMA); Operation PRESENCE (Uganda) refers to the Canadian Armed Forces deployment of tactical airlift support to the UN’s Regional Service Centre Entebbe, Uganda.
  • The Canadian Armed Forces would ideally provide these capabilities to the UN as smart pledges, which refers to the provision of essential capabilities to the UN’s pool of resources on a more reliable, sustained and predictable basis.
  • To date, the most visible Canadian contribution has been the aviation task force in Mali, which included two CH-147 Chinook helicopters to provide urgently needed transport and logistics capacity for MINUSMA, as well as four CH-146 Griffon helicopters to provide armed escort and protection. The task force was accompanied by a number of Canadian Armed Forces personnel for support, making a total of 250 personnel deployed, supported by a further 120 personnel in Dakar, Senegal.
  • The Canadian Armed Forces deployed under Operation PRESENCE (Mali) conducted 11 medical evacuations and more than 100 transport missions. Canadian helicopters accumulated more than 4,000 flying hours, transported approximately 2,800 passengers and delivered more than 370,000 pounds of cargo. This contribution provided essential support to MINUSMA in the execution of its mission.
  • The Canadian Armed Forces commenced Operation PRESENCE (Uganda) in August 2019 following the conclusion of the aviation task force in Mali. This is the deployment of one C-130J Hercules aircraft to Entebbe on an episodic basis, for five days each month, to provide cross-mission support to UN missions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) and South Sudan (UNMISS).

Considerations

  • Canada’s peace operations strategy aims to promote reform within and provide critical support to international peace operations. Canada is engaging with partners to develop innovative initiatives to encourage reform and modernization in the UN system. These efforts recognize the need to revitalize and adapt UN peace operations in the face of a changing global environment.
  • Further to this strategy, Canada’s defence policy, Strong Secure Engaged, calls for enhanced engagement in UN peacekeeping. The defence policy acknowledges that contributions to peace and stability abroad help to maintain security at home.
  • These pillars of current Canadian defence policy have a clear intersection in Africa, where security challenges – like terrorism and migration – have implications far beyond the continent, and where the UN is actively engaged.
  • Strong Secure Engaged also calls on the Canadian Armed Forces to be a responsible partner in traditional alliances and organizations. In this sense, Operation PRESENCE reinforces relationships with key allies such as the United States, United Kingdom, France and Germany, and promotes links with important multilateral institutions such as the African Union.
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