Change of Command for Operation UNIFIER in Ukraine

News Release

March 7, 2017 — Ottawa — National Defence / Canadian Armed Forces

The new commander of Joint Task Force-Ukraine (JTF-U), Lieutenant-Colonel Mark Lubiniecki, assumed command from Lieutenant-Colonel Wayne Niven today during a ceremony at the International Peacekeeping and Security Centre in Starychi, Ukraine. The ceremony marks the transition between Rotations 2 and 3 of Operation UNIFIER, Canada’s capacity building and military training mission in Ukraine.

As commander of JTF-U, Lieutenant-Colonel Lubiniecki commands approximately 200 Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) personnel with the mission to conduct training with the Ukrainian Armed Forces in areas such as tactical army skills, leadership development, explosive ordnance disposal, battlefield medical aid, military police skills, and logistics modernization.

Additional multimedia

Colonel Michael Blackburn, Reviewing Officer for the Transfer of Command Authority parade, poses for a group photo with the incoming (left) and outgoing (right) Joint Task Force - Ukraine command teams at the International Peacekeeping and Security Centre in Starychi, Ukraine, on March 7, 2017. Photo credit: Joint Task Force - Ukraine


“It is my pleasure to welcome the incoming Commander of Operation UNIFIER, Lieutenant-Colonel Mark Lubiniecki. I am confident that under his leadership the men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces are going to carry on this important training mission with the Ukrainian Armed Forces and be great Canadian ambassadors. It is also with pride that I express my appreciation to Lieutenant-Colonel Wayne Niven and his troops for their professionalism and accomplishments during their deployment in Ukraine.”

— Lieutenant-General Stephen Bowes, Commander Canadian Joint Operations Command

“I’m honoured to lead Canada’s training mission in Ukraine. Together, with the troops under my command, we will continue the outstanding work of our Canadian colleagues in enhancing the military capabilities of our friends and partners in the Ukrainian Armed Forces.”

— Lieutenant-Colonel Mark Lubiniecki, incoming Commander, Joint Task Force - Ukraine

“Sergeant Major James Smith and I are extremely proud of the work done by our team to help build capacity within the Ukrainian Armed Forces. After working alongside our multinational partners and outstanding Ukrainian hosts for the past seven months, we depart with a strong sense of accomplishment.”

— Lieutenant-Colonel Wayne Niven, outgoing Commander, Joint Task Force - Ukraine

Quick Facts

  • Canada is providing military training and capacity building to Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel to support Ukraine in its efforts to maintain sovereignty, security, and stability.

  • On March 6, 2017, the government of Canada has announced the extension of Operation UNIFIER until 31 March 2019.

  • Deployed members come from all parts of Canada to leverage specific skillsets and capabilities to ensure the success of the training program. As for the previous one, this rotation is comprised of members primarily from 1 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group.

  • Lieutenant-Colonel Mark Lubiniecki is an Armoured Officer and a graduate of Royal Military College of Canada and of Canadian Forces College. He is currently employed as the Commanding Officer of the Lord Strathcona's Horse (Royal Canadians) and has previously deployed twice to Afghanistan.

  • Since the start of the mission in September 2015, more than 3200 Ukrainian Armed Forces members have participated in training provided by the CAF via some 90 course serials.

  • The training is conducted in seven different lines of effort that aim at developing specific areas such as: small team training, combat first aid, Explosive Ordnance Disposal and Improvised Explosive Device Disposal, military police techniques, logistics modernization, and other training under the auspices of the Military Training and Cooperation Program (MTCP).

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