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 (UN) peacekeeping missions.

How many people are deployed?

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

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.


Tactical Airlift Detachment

The Tactical Airlift Detachment consists of one CC-130J Hercules aircraft, operated and supported by 30 to 50 CAF members. It deploys for multiple [SCVH1] 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), the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA).

In 2022, the Tactical Airlift Detachment transported 847 personnel and more than 500,000 lbs. of cargo with close to 100 hours of flight time combined.

Uganda, 2019 - 2023

Between 2019 and 2023, the CAF 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 operated from Entebbe, Uganda, to transport personnel, equipment and supplies on behalf of the UN to sustain ongoing missions in the region. 


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

In March 2023, the Government of Canada announced the renewal of Op PRESENCE (Mali) until March 31, 2026; however, following the June 2023 request of the Transitional Government of Mali to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) for MINUSMA to leave, and in accordance with UNSC Resolution 2690, MINUSMA began a progressive withdrawal from the West African country. On November 16, 2023, after more than five years, the Canadian Armed Forces concluded its contribution to MINUSMA with the return home of the last five deployed personnel.Operation PRESENCE (Mali) Task Force Bamako was comprised of a contingent of up to 10 members supporting MINUSMA in Bamako and Gao, Mali. Of those 10 members, up to six worked at the MINUSMA headquarters in Bamako, and up to four CAF staff officers were embedded within the United Kingdom Long Range Reconnaissance Task Force based in Gao.

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

  • 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.

A phased departure ensured a smooth and efficient transition between the Canadian and incoming Romanian helicopter detachments.

Since July 2019, the CAF contingent continued as Operation PRESENCE (Mali) Task Force Bamako until November 16, 2023, when the last five deployed CAF personnel returned home. 

Training Support to Peace Operations

Beginning in August 2021, the CAF has deployed 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 United Nations Engagement Platoon (UN-EP) is a tactical level military capability that supports a UN infantry battalion. The purpose of the UN-EP is to enhance the situational awareness of the battalion by studying the demographics of the area of operations to identify vulnerable areas and at-risk populations. Gender balanced, the UN-EP can access a larger and more representative cross section of the community to break down barriers in communicating with the local population.

The CAF contingent consists of up to 10 members including trainers and support staff.

Past deployments include:

  • Kigali, Rwanda, August-September 2021
  • Entebbe, Uganda, February-March 2022
  • Entebbe, Uganda, March 2023
  • Brindisi, Italy, June 2023
Elsie Initiative on Women in Peace Operations

The Elsie Initiative for Women in Peace Operations (Elsie Initiative) was launched in 2017 as part of Canada’s commitment to increase its support to United Nations peacekeeping operations. The Elsie Initiative is a Whole of Government (WoG) innovative and multilateral pilot project, led by Global Affairs Canada (GAC), that develops, applies, and tests approaches to help overcome barriers to increasing women’s meaningful participation in peace operations.

From November-December 2023, four CAF members deployed as part of the Canadian Training Assistance Team (CTAT) on Rotation 1 of Task Force PRESENCE Elsie (TFP Elsie). During their deployment, the CTAT built on the lessons of Rotation 0 and supported the Elsie Initiative by providing tailored bilateral military training assistance to the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF). Specific activities for TFP Elsie include providing support to course development, training of trainers, and gender advisor training.

Four CAF members deployed on Rotation 0 of Operation PRESENCE (Elsie) for an initial period between October 2022 and February 2023. During that time, the Training Development Assessment Team (TDAT) worked with their GAF counterparts and the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre to provide technical assistance and training support.

Ghana was selected as the partner country for Canada in 2018 following an assessment that considered its current and projected support for UN peace operations, experience deploying women, human rights record, and existing relationship with Canada.

As partners in the Elsie Initiative, Canada and Ghana share best practices, as well as develop and test new approaches to increase women’s leadership and advancement opportunities in UN peace operations.

History and context of the operation

During the UN Peacekeeping Defence Ministerial in Vancouver in November 2017, the Prime Minister of Canada announced the intention to increase Canada’s 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 was to Kigali, Rwanda, and Entebbe, Uganda.

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

Mali Video Gallery

Page details

Date modified: