Operation PRESENCE

Operation PRESENCE is the Canadian Armed Forces’ (CAF) contribution to the Government of Canada’s peace operations strategy. This includes the commitment of high-value military capabilities to various United Nations peacekeeping missions.


On 14 July 2022, Colonel Tara Willis transferred command of Op PRESENCE – Mali to Lieutenant-Colonel Marc-Andre Watier. Task Force Bamako comprises seven members supporting the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali, the UN peacekeeping mission in the West African nation.

The Canadian Armed Forces have supported peace and stability in Mali via Op PRESENCE since 2018. 

A Training Development Assessment Team (TDAT) has deployed to Ghana to contribute to ongoing efforts to increase meaningful participation of uniformed women to United Nations Peace Operations. Operation PRESENCE (Elsie) saw four CAF members, including two women, initially deploy for a period of 10 weeks, with subsequent episodic deployments to follow in the coming months.

How many people are deployed?

The number of deployed personnel varies depending on the requirements of the mission.

The Tactical Airlift Detachment consists of one CC-130J Hercules aircraft, operated and supported by approximately 25 CAF members. It deploys for  multiple episodes several times per year to assist with transporting troops, equipment and supplies to the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) and the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).

Canada traditionally has been a strong supporter of United Nations (UN) peacekeeping. On November 15, 2017, Canada pledged high-end military capabilities in support of UN Peace Support Operations, including making available an Aviation Task Force and tactical airlift support for possible deployment on UN peace operations.

What are they doing?

The CAF is supporting UN needs to sustain its missions with the CAF delivering critical resources to military and police personnel as well as civilian staff on peace support operations in multiple locations across the African continent.


Uganda, 2019 - 2021

Since August 2019, the CAF has deployed a Tactical Airlift Detachment on an episodic basis to Entebbe, Uganda to assist the UN’s Regional Support Centre in the sustainment of ongoing UN operations. In doing so, the CAF has played an important role in helping to supply approximately 80,000 military and police personnel as well as thousands of civilian staff on peace support operations across the African continent with critical resources. 

While deployed on Operation PRESENCE - Uganda, a Tactical Airlift Detachment operates from Entebbe, Uganda, to transport personnel, equipment and supplies on behalf of the UN to sustain ongoing missions in the region. This capability will be provided to the UN for multiple episodes for the coming year. 

The Canadian Tactical Airlift Detachment is comprised of: 

  • a CC-130J Hercules aircraft
  • Approximately 25 personnel.*

*This includes crew and support staff, to assist in the sustainment of several ongoing UN operations from the UN’s Regional Support Centre in Entebbe, Uganda.

In 2021 the Tactical Airlift Detachment transported 571 personnel and more than 640,000 lbs. of cargo with close to 100 hours of flight time combined.

Mali, 2018 - 2023

As part of MINUSMA, Task Force-Mali provided consistent and reliable aeromedical evacuation coverage for civilians and UN peacekeepers from August 1, 2018 to August 31, 2019. 

  • The CH-147F Chinook helicopters conducted medical evacuations
  • The CH-146 Griffon helicopters flew as armed escorts for the Chinooks. They also carried out other critical missions for MINUSMA as required

This support allowed our partners the freedom to conduct long-range security operations in remote and vulnerable areas of the country.

Our highly-trained aviators and crews operated our flying emergency rooms. Aboard were:

  • our force protection team
  • a flight surgeon
  • a critical care nursing officer
  • two medical technicians

On July 31, 2019, the CAF began its responsible departure from Mali. After more than a year of operations in Mali, the Canadian Armed Forces air task force deployed in Gao completed its mission. An important aspect of Canada’s multi-faceted support included providing critical aeromedical evacuation, logistic and transport capabilities as part of Operation PRESENCE-Mali. The task force ceased transport aviation tasks and focused solely on medical evacuation operations until the mission ended on August 31, 2019.

Over the past year, our peacekeepers conducted more than 100 transport missions, flying nearly 3,500 hours in support of UN security operations. These missions enabled the secure movement of our peacekeeping partners to remote and vulnerable areas of Mali as part of our contribution to stability in the region.

This phased departure ensured a smooth and efficient transition between the Canadian and incoming Romanian helicopter detachments. The CAF supplied a small transition team to assist Romania in its preparations and provided four C-17 aircraft flights to help them deploy personnel and equipment to theatre. This minimizes disruption in the availability of critical capabilities to MINUSMA forces and helps set up the Romanian contingent for operational success.

Since July 2019, the CAF contingent has continued as Operation PRESENCE (Mali) Task Force Bamako.

Op PRESENCE (Mali) is the CAF contribution to United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), in support of the Government of Canada's peace operations strategy.

Operation PRESENCE (Mali) Task Force Bamako is comprised of a contingent of up to 10 members supporting MINUSMA in Bamako and Gao, Mali. Of those 10 members, up to six work at the MINUSMA headquarters in Bamako, and up to four CAF staff officers are embedded within the United Kingdom Long Range Reconnaissance Task Force based in Gao.

In March 2022, the Government of Canada announced the renewal of Op PRESENCE (Mali) until March 31, 2023. 

Rwanda 2021-Uganda 2021

Operation PRESENCE – Training Support to Peace Operations

Beginning in August 2021, the CAF will deploy a training team on an episodic basis to assist the UN’s Engagement Platoon Initiative. The Canadian contingent is responsible for the Engagement Platoon Pilot Course and Infantry Battalion Specialty Training Material.

The Engagement Platoon’s mission is to enhance the situational awareness of the UN infantry battalion by mapping the demography of the area of operations in order to identify vulnerable area and at-risk populations. The Platoon will be made up of 50% male and 50% female members in order to leverage diversity of gender and expertise to break down barriers in communicating with the local population.

The CAF contingent may consist of up to 10 members; to include trainers and support staff. The pilot period of this operation will see three episodes of Canadian-led training over the course of the next 12 months. The first deployment is to Kigali, Rwanda, and Entebbe, Uganda. 

Operation PRESENCE (Elsie)

A gender-balanced team of four CAF members have deployed on Operation PRESENCE (Elsie) for an initial period between October 2022 and February 2023, with episodic follow on deployments in the subsequent months. During this time, the Training Development Assessment Team (TDAT) is working with their Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) counterparts and the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre, to provide technical assistance and training support.

This TDAT is deployed to Ghana through Operation PRESENCE, as part of Canada and Ghana’s bilateral partnership through the Elsie Initiative for Women in Peace Operations. This is not a UN mission, but a deployment of a new Canadian Armed Forces TDAT to Ghana in order to enhance Ghana’s capacity to deploy uniformed women on United Nations Peace Support Operations.

As bilateral partners in the Elsie Initiative since 2018, Canada and Ghana share best practices, as well as develop and test innovative approaches to increase women’s meaningful participation in uniformed military roles in UN peace operations.

The CAF members leading this effort are uniquely qualified to provide tailored bilateral assistance to the GAF in order to increase the meaningful and significant participation of uniformed women to UN peacekeeping operations, and are led by Lieutenant-Colonel Hope Carr.

History and context of the operation

During the UN Peacekeeping Defence Ministerial in Vancouver in November 2017, Prime Minister Trudeau announced Canada’s 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, as well as the Elsie Initiative on Women in Peace Operations.

At the urgent request of the UN, deploying aeromedical evacuation assistance to Mali became Canada’s first priority. As such, the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) devoted time and resources to deploying and employing a highly effective Air Task Force in support of MINUSMA as part of Operation PRESENCE - Mali. Having responded immediately with this first pledge, the CAF’s focus shifted immediately to planning the pledged tactical airlift support.

Operation PRESENCE – Training Support to Peace Operations (TSPO) is episodic training support supplied by the CAF to assist the UN’s Engagement Platoon Initiative. The Canadian contingent is responsible for the Engagement Platoon Pilot Course and Infantry Battalion Specialty Training Material. The UN Engagement Platoon’s mission is to enhance the situational awareness of the UN infantry battalion by mapping the demography of the area of operations in order to identify vulnerable area and at-risk populations. The first deployment is to Kigali, Rwanda, and Entebbe, Uganda.

Additional courses and the designated nations and locations involved are still to be determined.

The CAF has a history of deploying around the world in peacetime and during conflicts. In line with “Strong, Secure, Engaged,” Canada’s Defence Policy, and their commitment to UN Peacekeeping they help keep regions secure and defend Allies and partners if needed.


Infographic showing elements that were involved for the Op PRESENCE Mali mission Air Task Force Two rotations of 250 peacekeepers 3 CH-147F Chinook helicopters 5 CH-146 Griffon helicopters Conducted 11 Forward Aeromedical evacuations Treated more than 40 casualties Flew 4,000 hours Transported 2,800 passengers Delivered 370,000 pounds of cargo Tactical Aviation Detachment and Interim Operational Support Hub 1 CC-130 Hercules aircraft Flew more than 1,550 hours Delivered 2,000,000 pounds of cargo Transported 3,700 passengers MINUSMA Headquarters Up to 10 positions

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