A six helicopter Air Task Force from the Royal Canadian Air Force will be deployed to support the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) for the next twelve months.
The deployment will consist of two CH-147F Chinook helicopters (Canadian derivative of the CH-47F) for transport and logistics operations as well as four CH-146 Griffon helicopters (Canadian derivative of the Bell 412EP) for armed escort and protection. They will be accompanied by a full complement of aircrew and ground crew and will also include Canadian Army personnel who will facilitate medical evacuations and provide logistical support.
MINUSMA is currently the United Nation’s largest military operation and is considered the most dangerous, as of earlier this year some 150 peacekeepers had been killed though bombings or hit and run attacks by Islamist groups. The need for helicopters to help protect troops has been well identified and these Canadian aircraft will join three British Chinooks committed in January.
Announcing the deployment Canadian Defence Minister Harjit S. Sajjan said that;
“As a responsible member of the international community, we recognise the importance of working collaboratively with our partners to promote peace and security. Supported by our diplomatic negotiations, I am confident we can help make a real difference in this region through the deployment of the Air Task Force.”
Canada’s contribution joins commitments for 57 other MINUSMA partner countries working to bring sustainable peace and stability to Mali and the region. The deployment is Canada’s second since it announced its return to peace operations at the UN Peacekeeping conference hosted in Vancouver late last year.
Canada has committed to making a range of small pledges offering high value military capabilities to support partner nations on the ground. Its first pledge involved the deployment of a CC-130 Hercules aircraft to provide tactical airlift support for the UN’s Regional Support Centre in Uganda.
As part of the Vancouver Principles agreed to last year Canada will also be supporting the Elsie Initiative which is working to increase female participation in military and police deployments for UN operations.