Marking UN Mine Awareness Day during Operation UNIFIER
By a member of Joint Task Force-Ukraine
In 2005, April 4 was proclaimed to be UN Mine Awareness Day. The theme for this year’s Mine Awareness day was Advancing Protection, Peace and Development. It called for countries to establish and develop national mine action capacities for not just mines but also explosive remnants of war, including Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs).
In Kamianets-Podilskyi, at the Defence Demining Center, members of the Canadian Armed Forces have been working with the Armed Forces of Ukraine to help enhance their Explosive Ordnance Disposal training. UN Mine Awareness Day was not only a fitting event for the Explosive Ordnance Disposal specialists to commemorate, but also because this issue is something in which Ukraine is profoundly invested due to the military engagements along the eastern border.
“As the Officer Commanding the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Capacity Development efforts of Operation UNIFIER, I see clearly just how important this subject is to the Armed Forces of Ukraine,” noted Major Josh Bye. “Many of the Ukrainian soldiers that come through this training have firsthand experience from the Joint Force Operation Zone; almost everyone in Ukraine knows someone fighting there right now. This training will help their Sappers safely deal with explosive threats, making Ukraine safer and stronger.”
Over the course of UN Mine Awareness day, members of Operation UNIFIER in Kamianets-Podilskyi exchanged procedures and tactics with their Ukrainian counterparts. They also shared knowledge on explosive safety with locals that visited the Demining Center and reached out to the larger Ukrainian population through the media that was present. Most importantly, Armed Forces of Ukraine soldiers were able to share actual mining, booby trap, and IED emplacement tactics that have been used along the eastern boarder of Ukraine. That sharing is very important for the improvement of the training.
CAF members, this latest group predominantly from Garrison Petawawa, have been tasked to assist the Armed Forces of Ukraine as part of Operation UNIFIER. The operation is Canada’s response to requests from the Government of Ukraine to provide military training and capacity building for the personnel of the Armed Forces of Ukraine as they work to promote sovereignty, security and stability in Ukraine.
A part of that military training, which started in the summer of 2015, is to better prepare Ukrainian soldiers to combat mine and IED threats domestically and abroad. This training directly impacts the skills of Ukrainian military Engineers, enabling them to more safely dispose of explosive threats in combat operations as well as all types of explosive remnants of war.
This ongoing relationship between members of the Canadian Armed Forces and the Armed Forces of Ukraine exemplifies this year’s UN Mine Awareness theme in advancing protection, peace and development, in Ukraine and throughout the world.
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