Operation ECLIPSE

November 21, 2000 - June 11, 2001

Deployments under Operation ECLIPSE began in late December 2000, when 450 Canadian soldiers began arriving in east Africa to support the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE). The deployment was a joint effort with the Netherlands and Denmark under the auspices of the United Nations Multinational Standby High-Readiness Brigade (SHIRBRIG), which made its début with this operation. The involvement of SHIRBRIG in the establishment of UNMEE was vital to the mission's success, as SHIRBRIG enabled it to launch quickly while local conditions favoured peace. Ethiopia and Eritrea had signed a peace agreement on December 12, 2000.

Canada's "Task Force East Africa" (TFEA) comprised the following sub-units:

  • an armoured reconnaissance platoon;
  • a Company Group made up of the following elements:H Company of The Royal Canadian Regiment (three mechanized infantry platoons);
    • an engineer troop;
    • a combat service-support platoon; and
    • a company headquarters,
  • all supported by a Canadian National Command Element and a National Support Element.

TFEA was integrated into NECBAT, the Dutch-led Netherlands-Canadian Battalion, which was the first UNMEE battalion to begin operations. Assigned to Sector Centre in Eritrea, TFEA worked out of Camp Groesbeek, the NECBAT logistics base in Dek'emhare; Camp Dunn, near Senafe; and platoon bases in Senafe and Tsorena, Ethiopian-occupied towns due to be turned over to Eritrea. A detachment from TFEA detachment moved to Sector East to set up operations there so the Kenyan Battalion, due to deploy into the theatre, could begin operations immediately upon arrival. This task was not part of the original mission, but the Canadian contingent accepted it to ensure that UNMEE had credible forces in all three of its sectors when Ethiopia began withdrawing its troops in compliance with the peace plan.

On April 18, UNMEE declared the establishment of the 25 km-wide Temporary Security Zone (TSZ) between Ethiopia and Eritrea, marking the formal separation of the forces of the parties to the peace agreement. For the rest of their six months in east Africa, the Canadian soldiers monitored compliance with the signed protocol concerning the Eritrean militia, and facilitated the return of Eritrean civil administrators and police to the TSZ. They also carried out "quick-impact" humanitarian projects to help people returning to villages in the Canadian area of operations: they refurbished the Senafe elementary school, and distributed school supplies, clothing, sports equipment and toys. These projects were completed by the Canadian soldiers themselves, with partial funding from the Canadian International Development Agency. On June 11, the Canadians handed their responsibilities over to the Indian Battalion, and by the end of June the entire Canadian contingent had returned home.

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