Major-General Pierre St-Amand, Commander 1 Canadian Air Division, presented ninety-three Canadian Forces members from the Winnipeg area the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Operation Unified Protector-Libya Medal at a parade in Building 21, 17 Wing Winnipeg, on 16 November, 2012.
“You are receiving this medal for defending Canadian values on the world stage, for enforcing United Nations’ sanctions against a corrupt regime, for helping the Libyan people receive humanitarian aid and, most importantly, for protecting the lives of innocent civilians,” MGen St-Amand said to the parade.
Canada responded quickly and with strength immediately after the UN Security Council Resolution 1973 passed on March 17, 2011, deploying two frigates and their Sea King helicopter detachments, CF-188 Hornet fighter aircraft, CC-150 Polaris and CC-130 Hercules in-flight refueling tankers, C-177 Globemaster III transport aircraft, and CP-140 long-range patrol aircraft. These assets gave Canadian Forces the ability to respond to the crisis in the region by providing aviation support to coalition efforts and to transport people into and out of the theatre of operations.
At a ceremony held in Halifax, Nova Scotia, attended by the Minister of National Defence, the Honourable Peter MacKay, the Associate Minister of National Defence, the Honourable Bernard Valcourt, the new Chief of Defence Staff, General Tom Lawson said, “Time and again, Canadian Forces members have shown the world that Canada is a dependable and highly capable ally ready and able to assist when called upon. We can all be proud of the accomplishments of our soldiers, sailors, airmen and airwomen, and the work they did to protect the people of Libya.”
Recipients in Winnipeg included members of 435 (Transport and Rescue) Squadron, part of 17 Wing Winnipeg, who provided air to air refueling for the CF-18 fighter aircraft, members of 17 Wing’s Mission Support Flight who provided logistic and engineering support, and members from 1 Canadian Air Division.
“You made a contribution far greater than the size of the force deployed,” said MGen St-Amand. “Throughout Operation Unified Protector all of you demonstrated your outstanding skills, readiness and agility. You brought immense credit to yourselves, to the Royal Canadian Air Force, to the Canadian Forces, and to Canada as a nation.”
MGen St-Amand also praised the families of the deployed forces. “On behalf of all of you, I appreciate the sacrifices that our families made at that time. Their support is fundamental to our ability to project and sustain our forces halfway around the world,” he said.
The NATO Operation Unified Protector medal is awarded for 30 consecutive or 60 cumulative days of honourable service under NATO commencing March 23, 2011, and ending October 31, 2011. The medal is bronze, circular and bears the NATO star set in a wreath of olive leaves. On the reverse the medal bears the title ‘North Atlantic Treaty Organization’ and the words ‘In the service of peace and freedom’ in English and French.
At similar ceremonies across Canada and the United States, 950 medals were awarded in total in recognition of their participation in Operation Mobile, the Canadian Forces contribution to the NATO-led operation to protect the people of Libya by enforcing an arms embargo and no-fly zone.