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Peacekeeping and International Stability Operations
With the collapse of the WARSAW PACT in 1989 the world situation changed. The threat of world wide nuclear war was suddenly reduced as the USSR fragmented and its international influence was severely reduced.
Unfortunately, losing the super power "moderating" influences let many client states loose. Wars, civil disturbances and governmental collapses have increased dramatically and PEACEKEEPING AND PEACE MAKING have become the major global business. Canadian forces are now even more heavily committed in the service of peace than ever before.
The list that follows, while not comprehensive, outlines some of the broad areas where Canadian troops have been employed in peacekeeping/stability operations over the past 100 years; over 30 of these missions have been under a United Nations mandate.
CANADA'S FIRST PEACEKEEPING MISSION
In 1870 a joint British - Canadian military force was dispatched to the Red River Colony (in present day Manitoba) due to unrest among the Métis. While the force was enroute, the Canadian Government refused a British request to pay for the British contingent costs and, as a result, Britain ordered its soldiers to turn back, leaving the Canadian component under Colonel Garnet Wolseley to carry on alone. As much of the command and control infrastructure for the force was British, this left the force with virtually no communications above unit level.
Responding to the 25 June 1950 invasion of South Korea, Canada sent transport aircraft, three destroyers and an infantry brigade group to help restore peace. RCSigs personnel arrived in Korea on 4 May 1951 and found their duties were particularly challenging because of the mountainous terrain, poor roads, frequent moves and miserable weather.
The signalling duties continued until late 1954.
UNITED NATIONS EMERGENCY FORCE (UNEF I)
Following the 1956 Egyptian/ Israeli dispute over the Suez Canal, a UN force of 7,000 deployed to secure and maintain peace. Wearing blue berets for the first time, operators, technicians and linemen of 56 Signal Squadron provided internal UNEF communications. Canadians in Gaza, Rafah, El- Arish and Sharm-el-Sheikh provided this essential service until Egypt abruptly dismissed the UNEF in May 1967.
The tropical operating conditions were harsh, the radio links very long and initially there were incidents of Canadians being attacked and taken hostage. By 1964 the situation had stabilized and the UN withdrew.
In 1964, following four years of escalating conflict over joint Greek/Turkish Cypriot governance, UN peacekeepers were requested. An uneasy stalemate developed until the coup and invasion of 1974. Subsequently, the island was effectively partitioned and a UN enforced buffer zone established.
Canadian C&E personnel augmented the Royal Signals contingent providing internal communications until 1993.
UNEF II 1973-79
The UNITED NATIONS EMERGENCY FORCE was authorized on 25 October 1973. Its mandate was to supervise the cease-fire between Egyptian and Israeli Forces following the 18 January 1974 and 8 September 1974 agreements, supervise the redeployment of both Egyptian and Israeli Forces and control the buffer zone.
73 Canadian Signal Squadron provided force communications within the theatre and a rear link to Canada.
The UNITED NATIONS DISENGAGEMENT OBSERVER FORCE GOLAN HEIGHTS was authorized 31 May 1974. Its mandate is to supervise the cease-fire between Israel and Syria and to supervise their forces on either side of a buffer zone in accordance with the Agreement on Disengagement between Israel and Syria. Canada provides communications, logistics and technical support for the force.
In August 1988, following an eight year war, UN assistance was requested to supervise a cease-fire and withdrawal along the 1400 kilometer Iran/Iraq border.
Approximately 500 personnel from across Canada formed 88 Signals Regiment which was in- theatre by late August. They operated very close to the front lines where cease-fire violations were common. In December 1988 they returned to Canada.
This was also the first mission where Canada employed the portable INMARSAT satellite ground terminal.
Following Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait, a UN sanctioned force assembled in the Persian Gulf. C&E personnel staffed the Canadian Headquarters in Bahrain and provided communications support from Doha airfield.
As combatants in the war zone, Canadians faced the danger of terrorist and missile attacks. The ground war ended on 27 February 1991 after only 100 hours of intense combat.
SOMALIA (Op DELIVERANCE)
In December 1992, UN assistance was requested to deliver humanitarian aid to starving Somalis, a dangerous mission as civil war had not ended.
Quickly deployed with only minimal equipment, 44 members of the Headquarters and Signal Squadron successfully provided on-theatre and rear link communications for the Battle Group of the Canadian Joint Force Somalia.