Details/Information for Canadian Forces (CF) Operation BISON

CF Overseas Operations have most often operated within the construct of an international mandate. As such, the International Information is presented first in order to provide the context of the Canadian Operation (displayed second). Eventually, all rotations associated with the particular Canadian operation will also be displayed.

BISON

International Information

International Operation Name: Multinational Air Movement Detachment in Rimini

International Mission Name: Multinational Air Movement Detachment in Rimini (MAMDRIM)

Mandating Organization: North Atlantic Treaty Organisation

Region Name: Europe

Location: Italy

Mission Date: 14 December 1995 - 28 June 1998

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Canadian Forces (CF) Information (BISON)

Name: BISON

Date: 19 March 1997 - 28 June 1998

Canadian Task Force Name Mission Statement:

Canada is requested to take over the role as lead nation for the Multi-national Air Movement and Med-evac in Rimini, Italy (MAMDRIM) for SFOR.

CF Mission/Operation Notes:

With the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1990, the countries of the former Eastern-Bloc were free to determine their own, respective futures. While this was a peaceful transition for many, the Balkan nation of Yugoslavia disintegrated into bitter regional/ethnic fighting, sparked by the provinces of Slovenia and Croatia both unilaterally declaring their independence in June 1991.

Since that time both the United Nations (UN) and NATO were actively involved in the peacemaking, peacekeeping and humanitarian activities in the Former Yugoslavia. UNPROFOR, the UN’s main peacekeeping effort, existed between April 1992 and March 1995. Following the signing of the Dayton Peace Accords on 14 December 1995, NATO’s Implementation Force (IFOR, Dec 95 - Dec 96) and Stabilization Force (SFOR, Dec 96 to Dec 04) assumed control of military operations in the region.

An essential part of SFOR’s operations would be the Multinational Air Movements Detachment in Rimini Italy, otherwise known as MAMDRIM. Operating out of the Italian Air Force Base in the resort town, MAMDRIM provided SFOR with a Tactical Air Lift Control Centre (TALCC) handling per-mission weather/intelligence briefings, flight planning, scheduling, medevac and passenger/freight/aircraft servicing between Rimini and the in-theatre hubs of Zagreb, Sarajevo and Split. MAMDRIM existed since the inception of IFOR in December 1995, and had originally been manned by Norwegian troops. However, in January 1997, the Norwegian government announced it could no longer support this operation.

Canada was informally requested to take over as “lead nation” for MAMDRIM in January 1997, and officially accepted as of 19 March, though without providing the CC-130 Hercules and crew which had been part of SFOR’s original request. Operation BISON, as the Canadian commitment would be called, would comprise an operations and support staff of three officers and eight NCOs based at Rimini, and one Liaison Officer at the Regional Air Movement Control Centre in Vincenza, Italy. On 3 April 1997, the Canadian Contingent in MAMDRIM (CCIM, Op BISON) would be declared operationally ready. It should be noted that the contingent name was changed to Canadian Air Component MAMDRIM (CACIM) between August and November 1997, and later changed back to CCIM until its closure in June 1998.

CACIM was in charge of all TALCC operations from the Rimini base, primarily in support of a Greek (HAF, Hellenic Air Force) C-130 tasked to SFOR, as well as a Royal Norwegian Air Force C-130 (later replaced by a Belgian Air Force C-130) flying relief supplies between Sarajevo and Albania from 12 to 21 June 1998. In total, Op BISON would oversee 1,165 NATO flights, move 88,763 SFOR personnel, and transport 9.5 million pounds of freight.

By the end of Op BISON’s mandate on 20 June 1998, a total of 60 Canadian Regular and Reserve Force personnel (mostly from 8 Wing, CFB Trenton) had served in both Rimini and Vincenza. All MAMDRIM responsibilities would be handed over to a Greek Contingent on 17 June 1998, with the final Canadians leaving Rimini on 28 June.