Rotation 16 of Operation UNIFIER’s training element in the UK hands over task to Rotation 17

January 19, 2024 - Defence Stories
By Major Christopher Daniel, Senior Public Affairs Officer, Joint Task Force-Ukraine


Armed Forces of Ukraine recruits conduct a final exercise that confirms the training they received from Canadian Armed Forces members during Operation UNIFIER Rotation 16 in the United Kingdom.

“Having the privilege of leading a company-plus of hard-charging infanteers, engineers, gunners, medics, and administrators on an expeditionary operation has been the most rewarding experience of my career to date,” said Major (Maj) Richard Law, the outgoing commander of the United Kingdom Training Element (UKTE), one of the four training elements of Operation UNIFIER. “What we do here, regardless of our roles, has had and will continue to have an impact on the battlefields of Ukraine.”

More than 170 Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members were deployed with the UKTE between June and December 2023. November Company of the 3rd Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment (3 RCR), formed the nucleus of Rotation 16, with augmentation from 33 other CAF units. A quarter of this Rotation’s were reservists, and around 140 of its members were on their first expeditionary deployment.

“Considering that this is the first deployment for many UKTE members, I am thrilled with the quality of training they provided,” said Maj Law. “We have a number of privates and corporals who push the yardstick every day. Their accomplishments are inspiring and demonstrate that if a soldier is properly resourced, trained, enabled and mentored they will far exceed our expectations.”

The UKTE delivers basic infantry training to the Armed Forces of Ukraine’s (AFU) soldiers to increase their lethality, survivability and fighting abilities. The five-week course covers everything from basic soldier skills, the Law of Armed Conflict, urban combat, field operations by day and night, to tactical medicine, explosive threat awareness, and live-fire and movement ranges. The UKTE trained 1,575 Ukrainian soldiers during Rotation 16.

Rotation 16 of the UKTE has handed over its responsibility for training the Ukrainians to Rotation 17. Rotation 17’s UKTE is comprised of approximately 160 soldiers, mostly drawn from Oscar Company, 3 RCR and other units within the Canadian Army’s 4th Canadian Division.

“I’m excited to lead the first rotation of Canadians to deliver the Basic Training Instructor Course in its new form, concurrent to the continuation of the Basic Infantry Course. It’s gratifying to know that we will deliver world-class instruction to the Ukrainians and build the foundation for the AFU’s next generation of instructors,” said Maj Adam Snook, incoming UKTE commander. “My goal is to prepare for the future of Operation UNIFIER and to facilitate the needs of the AFU.”

The UKTE is Canada’s contribution to the British-led Operation INTERFLEX, which is responsible for providing basic recruit training. Eleven countries are currently contributing to INTERFLEX, including New Zealand, Australia, the Netherlands, Finland, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Lithuania and Romania.

The Ukrainians bring an infectious optimism and are highly motivated to learn the skills required to repel Russia’s unlawful invasion. Together with our partners, we are contributing to Ukraine’s security, and in turn all of Europe’s security,” said Maj Law.

A Ukrainian from the Kyiv region, nicknamed "Gandalf," said the course exceeded his expectations. He found the instructors were friendly and professional, and the translators did an excellent job.

“The five-day field exercise was the most challenging as the conditions were designed to be very similar to real-life combat. The element of surprise made the task very difficult and realistic. The Canadian instructors constantly supported and encouraged us. They are wonderful and very patient, explaining everything two to three times to make sure we get it right,” Gandalf said.

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