OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Feb. 15, 2013) - The Honourable Peter MacKay, the Minister of National Defence, announced today that the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) has concluded its successful training mission in Sierra Leone, in February 2013.
"Canada continues to demonstrate its leadership by contributing the knowledge and expertise required to promote peace and security," said Minister MacKay. "This government remains steadfast in maintaining Canada's global reputation as a nation committed to helping others."
The mission, known as Operation Sculpture, is Canada's contribution to the International Military Advisory Training Team, a multinational effort led by Britain to help the government of the Republic of Sierra Leone build effective and democratically accountable armed forces. The withdrawal of the ten CAF members coincides with the official draw down of the International Military Advisory Training Team.
For the past decade, the CAF provided advisory and training support, technical expertise, and assisted in the development of training programs as part of the International Military Advisory Training Team. During the course of the mission, the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces continued to grow in professionalism and skill, allowing the international trainers to step back.
"I am extremely proud of the skill and professionalism shown by the members of the Canadian Armed Forces, who assisted in helping the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces become a more respected and professional institution," stated General Tom Lawson, the Chief of the Defence Staff. "I am also very pleased that we were able to do our part to support the Canadian Government's efforts to promote peace and security in West Africa."
The success of the mentoring and training program can be seen in the success of the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces, which is now a respected organization attracting global attention. In 2009, the Government of Sierra Leone was able to make its first offer of troops to a peace operation and deployed a sector reconnaissance company to serve with the United Nations-Africa Union Mission in Darfur. In 2011, the Government of Sierra Leone committed to the deployment of a battalion of 850 soldiers to the Africa Union Mission in Somalia. The growing stability of the country was underlined in November 2012, when landmark national elections were held a decade after Sierra Leone's brutal civil war.
Canada's participation in the British-led International Military Advisory Training Team is another example of the close relationship between Canada and the United Kingdom - a bond forged in peace and war, notably two World Wars, and in almost every major conflict for more than a century, including Afghanistan and Libya.
Note to editor / news director:
For background information on Operation Sculpture:
For imagery on Operation Sculpture: http://www.combatcamera.forces.gc.ca/site/01/sculpture/index-eng.asp