Peacekeeping

Please be aware that this ‘Peacekeeping’ page is currently under construction.

During the Cold War (1947 to 1991) Canada participated in 12 United Nations peacekeeping operations:

Acro-nymName of MissionYrCanadian Participation
UNCOKUnited Nations Temporary Commission on Korea4749Several civilian and military personnel
UNTSOUnited Nations Truce Supervision Organization48
cy
Military observers, including Chief of Staff E.L.M. Burns
UNMOGIPUnited Nations Military Observer Group for India and Pakistan49cyFirst Chief Military Observer and observers
UNEF IUnited Nations Emergency Force56
67
Up to 1,007 personnel
ONUCUnited Nations Operation in the Congo6064Approx 300 servicemen at a time, 1,900 total.
UNTEA/UNSFUnited Nations Temporary Executive Authority/United Nations Security Force (West New Guinea, Indonesia)6263Two aircraft, one observer.
UNFICYPUnited Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus64cyOperation SNOWGOOSE
UNEFME (aka UNEF II)United Nations Emergency Force, Middle East73791,145 personnel
UNDOFUnited Nations Disengagement Observer Force (Israel/Syria)74cyOperation DANACA
UNIFILUnited Nations Interim Force in Lebanon78110 personnel
MFOMultinational Force and Observers (Sinai, Egypt)81
cy
Operation CALUMET
UNTAGUnited Nations Transition Assistance Group (Namibia)89 90Operation MATADOR
The above list is excerpted from a Wikipedia article

To summarize the Canadian experience here is an article (Canada and the Cold War) from the Canadian Encyclopedia written by Historian J.L. Granatstein (a fellow of the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute) which captures the Canadian Peacekeeping experience very nicely. ‘Jack’ (as the then head of the Canadian War Museum) was a real friend of the Diefenbunker during our formative in becoming a Museum of the Cold War, especially in assisting us with advice and getting ‘stuff’ to help ‘dress’ the Museum’s displays. (DND had pretty much stripped the building of its F&E as they were intending to seal it with concrete as they had done the associated Richardson TX site July 1997).

UN Canadian Troops in a Ferret Scout Car doing reconnaissance with the UNEF

First take a look at this plaque. According to the above Granatstein article about 125 000 Canadians have served on peacekeeping mission of which about 130 have died on duty. We have a duty to remember them.

This Plaque was installed in the Bank of Canada Vault in the Diefenbunker, Canada’s Cold War Museum in Carp, Ontario on November 2008. In the past such commemorative plaques were often cast from ‘used’ cannons made of bronze. For the Diefenbunker memorial it was decided that it would be appropriate to use aluminum which (when appropriately alloyed) was much used as lightweight armour for military vehicles such as armoured personnel carriers during the Cold War. The particular aluminum used to create the plaque was obtained from scrap material left over during the upgrading modification of vehicles by DEW Engineering of Ottawa. We are grateful to their Chief Engineer retired army Major Tim Dear who facilitated this acquisition and to Alloy Foundry of Merrickville, Ontario who where able to cast the aluminum into the plaque for us at a reasonable price.
Left to right: Cloth badge usually warn as a shoulder patch but ofter found on the UN issue ‘baseball cap’; UN flag flown over UN installations including all UN field stations; Metal cap badge worn on blue beret and sometimes on UN baseball cap.

UNMOGIP

“The first group of United Nations military observers arrived in the mission area on 24 January of 1949 to supervise the ceasefire between India and Pakistan in the State of Jammu and Kashmir. Following renewed hostilities of 1971, the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) has remained in the area to observe developments pertaining to the strict observance of the ceasefire of 17 December 1971 and report thereon to the Secretary-General.”

The widely recognized symbol of UN Peackeepers the UN Blue Beret (Casque Bleu); the medal given to UNMOGIP “UN Military Observers (UNMOs) after one year of service.

The following narrative and images will highlight my own personal story about my year on the Indian Subcontinent with the United Nations Military Observer group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP). Subsequently I will include some information about other Canadian UN Peacekeeping Missions as I research them more thoroughly

Some images from my UNMO service with UNMOGIP in 1973.

From upper left clockwise: Dave on a Line of Control Battle Positions Inspection Mission, Manning the Radio at UNMOGIP Field Station Kotli for the daily scheduled Sitrep to HQ, at UN Field Station Sialkot (quite comfortable), Shopping in Downtown Sialkot, Pakistan.

Late in 1972 I found out that I had (unknown to me) been selected to serve the year of 1973 with the United Nation Observer Group in India/ Pakistan. I had never heard of it before. At the time I had just two years previously graduated from the Royal Military College of Science in the UK, had been promoted Major and was an (engineer) equipment staff officer at National Defence HQ in Ottawa. This new posting, literally “out-of-(and into)-the-blue”was quite a surprise for me as I had just arranged to take a military sponsored post-graduate Environmental Engineering Degree at Waterloo…plus late October my wife and I had just purchased and moved into a new house (there wasn’t even any grass!). The last minute nature of this posting was due to the originally posted ‘fellow’ military engineer having found a reason not to go. (Maybe he didn’t like heat, humidity, snakes, foot-long centipedes and spicy food…who knows?)

Fortunately the Army doesn’t put one in these situations without at least some preparation so I had a five day training course on the ins-and-outs of the mission, it’s somewhat checkered history, and all the subcontinent’s potential political, religious and cultural ‘baggage’, i.e.,things that could go wrong! Also there was even information about what I was actually supposed to do while there. In the few weeks before departure I had some time-off from my NDHQ staff job to prepare myself and my long suffering, wonderful military wife for the coming year’s absence and to get ready to travel to the posting in Kashmir. The following extract from a UN website summarizes what the mission was all about at the time of my posting to UNMOGIP:

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  • UNMOGIP’s functions were to observe and report, investigate complaints of ceasefire violations and submit its findings to each party and to the Secretary-General. At the end of 1971, hostilities broke out again between India and Pakistan. When a ceasefire came into effect on 17 December 1971, a number of positions on both sides of the 1949 ceasefire line had changed hands. The UN Security Council met and on 21 Decem
  • ber adopted resolution 307 (1971), by which it demanded that a durable ceasefire in all areas of conflict remain in effect until all armed forces had withdrawn to their respective territories and to positions which fully respected the ceasefire line in Jammu and Kashmir supervised by UNMOGIP
  • .In July 1972, India and Pakistan signed an agreement defining a Line of Control in Kashmir which, with minor deviations, followed the same course as the ceasefire line established by the Karachi Agreement in 1949. 
  • India took the position that the mandate of UNMOGIP had lapsed, since it related specifically to the ceasefire line under the Karachi Agreement.
  • Pakistan, however, did not accept this position. Given the disagreement between the two parties over UNMOGIP’s mandate and functions, the Secretary-General’s position has been that UNMOGIP could be terminated only by a decision of the Security Council. In the absence of such an agreement, UNMOGIP has been maintained with the same arrangements as established following the December 1971 ceasefire. The last report of the Secretary-General to the Security Council on UNMOGIP was published in 1972. 
  • Since the Simla Agreement of 1972, India has adopted a non-recognition policytowards third parties in their bilateral exchanges with Pakistan over the question regarding the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The military authorities of Pakistan have continued to lodge alleged ceasefire violations complaints with UNMOGIP. The military authorities of India have lodged no complaints since January 1972 limiting the activities of the UN observers on the Indian-administered side of the Line of Control, though they continue to provide necessary security, transport and other services to UNMOGIP. 

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It appeared to be that the job was to supervise the cease-fire agreement(s) between the Indians and Pakistanis in the disputed area of Kashmir located on the NW frontier. Both of these parties were armed to the teeth, professional militarys who had been at each others throats since the British partitioned the subcontinent in 1949. Fortunately I had my five days of familiarization training to prepare me for this UN Observer assignment! The area had recently been fought over during the 1971 war between India and Pakistan (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indo-Pakistani_War_of_1971). Post this war UNMOs were to ‘supervise’ the newly reestablished Line of Control.

The location of the Kashmir UN mission and a 2011 map of UNMOGIP area with 1972 Line of Control delineated

Given that it was still virtually a war zone it was somewhat unnerving that no protective gear such as helmets, ‘flac’ jackets, or arms were provided for the Observers. I suppose it was considered that white jeeps, blue berets, UN shoulder flashes and a UN flag (along with an authoritative demeanor) would be enough to protect us during our inspection tours and other interactions. Oddly, it seemed to work as I felt perfectly safe on most occasions and during most liaison with the local military authorities mainly due to the professionalism of the Indian and Pakistani Officers and Snr NCOs.

(To Be Continued)

Unloading supplies from the UN aircraft. During my time in UNMOGIP the aircraft was provided by Canada. It was an RCAF Twin Otter and was crewed and maintained by Canadians. “801” as it was referred to by the ‘UNMOs” (UN Military Observers) did weekly supply runs to each of the 20 or so Field Stations along the ‘Line of Control’, complete with much looked forward to mail from home and – if we were lucky – our fulfilled food, beer and booze orders.
From left to right: Dave admiring a fellow UNMOs’ (an Australian) walking stick also being looked at not so admiringly by an Italian Observer; Shikara’s on Nagine Lake in Srinagar, Kashmir; My favorite Pakistani driver while I was OIC at the UN Field Station, Kotli, Pakistan (a very responsible young man who could safely navigate that jeep over some pretty hairy mountain roads all the while avoiding camels!).