OP PRESENCE Mali - Colonel Chris McKenna

Transcript - Colonel Chris McKenna

Hello I'm Colonel Chris McKenna, I'm the commander of Task Force Mali - Canada's mission to the country of Mali in support of the United Nations known as OP PRESENCE.

In the coming weeks we're going to show you a series of videos, that show you in great detail the roles and responsibilities of the key personnel that make up the forward air evacuation capability. You're going to see a video on pilots, door gunners, medical officers, medics, and force protection personnel. Underneath and underpinning all of this are support personnel and administration personnel. They maintain our helicopters 24 hours a day to ensure that we're ready to go when the call comes in.

A lot of people might not know what a forward air evacuation capability is so I'd like to describe that to you. It's basically a Chinook and two Griffon helicopters that take off and go and scoop someone up who's been injured somewhere in the area of operations. It's basically a flying ambulance that brings professional medical and force protection personnel to the point of injury to evacuate someone back to a hospital, so they get the care that they need.

What I'd like to do right now is show you where your Canadian military is working in West Africa. Country of Mali in the middle of the map, obviously off to the west we have Mauritania, Senegal, Guinea, Burkina Faso to the south, Niger off to the east, and Algeria to the north of us. The Sahara Desert off to the northeast and obviously right by the task force patch you have the city of Gao in northern Mali. The Niger River that runs through Niamey and Niger all the way up, past Timbuktu, and then straight down through Bamako the capital of Mali.

I think it's important that we keep the Canadian public informed as to what we're doing here in Mali. So Canada has a small military but we have world class capability. And what we're doing here in Mali really matters. We have aircraft and personnel dedicated to a role that is saving lives and safeguarding people in support of the United Nations. We're very proud to wear the blue beret on your behalf as Canadians. And we're very proud to be here serving our country in Mali. 

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