Details/Information for Canadian Forces (CF) Operation NYLON

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.


International Information

International Operation Name: Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe - Nagorno Karabakh

International Mission Name: Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe - Nagorno Karabakh (OSCE - NK)

Mandating Organization: Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe

Region Name: Europe

Location: Vienna, Austria

Mission Date: 20 December 1994 - Present

Mission Mandate:

The OSCE High Level Planning Group was created on 20 December 1994 with military experts seconded from member nations. The HLPG was mandated to:

Mission/Operation Notes:

Nagorno-Karabakh is a mountainous region located within the nation of Azerbaijan and consists of approximately 75 percent ethnic Armenians. The Russian Empire took over much of the area that is now Armenia and Azerbaijan in 1813. With the Russian Revolution of 1917, both areas declared independence and sought to control the mountainous (nagorno) Karabakh region in which both ethnic groups were represented. Their freedom was short-lived, however, as the Soviet Union asserted control over the region in 1923 and ended all thoughts of independence.

As the Soviet Union began to come apart in the late 1980s, demonstrations against Azeri rule broke out in both Nagorno-Karabakh (N-K) and Armenia. In 1990, after violent incidents, Soviet forces moved into N-K and began to seek out Armenian paramilitary groups, with support from the Azeri militia. By September 1991, Moscow indicated its intention to pull out of N-K. Armenian militants increased their level of violence, in which 30,000 people are estimated to have been killed in the period between 1992 –1994.

The fighting resulted in Armenian and Karabakhi forces creating a link between Armenia and N-K, occupation of most of N-K and parts of western Azerbaijan. Hundreds of thousands of Azeris fled, while the UN Security Council adopted resolutions calling for a cease-fire. The fighting continued until Russia arranged a cease-fire in May 1994; however, the situation remains tense.

Early mediation attempts resulted in cease-fires that were usually broken within minutes of being signed. There was hope in 1992 when Armenia and Azerbaijan joined the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) - the predecessor of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) - and a group of 11 nations within the CSCE, including Armenia and Azerbaijan, was created to assist in negotiations. However, the original “Minsk Group”, named for the location of its proposed first meeting, failed immediately when Armenia and Azerbaijan quarreled over terms of reference the Karabakhi Armenians pointing to Principle VIII of the Helsinki Final Act (the ‘charter’ of the OSCE) to substantiate their claim to self-determination and Azerbaijan citing Principle IV’s guarantee of territorial integrity. Further complicating negotiations was the fact that Azerbaijan demanded negotiations with Armenia, while Armenia indicated that only the Karabakhi could speak for themselves.

Retaining the name of ‘Minsk Group’, the other nine members continued to work at finding a solution, resulting in a cease-fire being implemented in May 1994. At the same time the OSCE considered a small verification mission to assist in the maintenance of the cease-fire. Political developments soon escalated the level of proposed activity to an OSCE-led monitoring mission and security force. As this would have been the first OSCE force of this size, and the first deployed into such a hostile environment, Canada was approached to provide personnel to assist with the development of the mission. The OSCE created a High Level Planning Group (HLPG) on 20 December 1994, located in Vienna, to determine and plan the mounting of an OSCE peacekeeping mission in Nagorno-Karabakh.

The HLPG was composed of military experts seconded from member nations. The mandate was to:

The original mandate of the HLPG was to expire on 30 December 1995. Personnel began arriving in Vienna in March 1995, with familiarization training for the planning mission beginning on 20 March. A reconnaissance was conducted of the N-K area in the latter half of May. From this a basic framework for the size of the mission was developed and an understanding derived of the basic situation in which any OSCE peacekeeping mission would operate. This was presented to the Chairman-in Chief on 14 July 1995, and consisted of four options.

While the military planning reached a highly developed state, the local political will to allow a peacekeeping mission was more problematic and with no agreement in sight the mandate of the HLPG was therefore extended from 30 December 1995 to 30 June 1996. When no solution was forthcoming, most of the HLPG members returned to their home nations beginning in July 1996. The HLPG nevertheless continued to exist, with eight officers seconded from OSCE members. This slimmed-down organization was prepared to provide advice to the OSCE on military matters related to peacekeeping in N-K and to keep abreast of current military matters in the region. OSCE efforts at finding a solution to the N-K problem continue through the Minsk Group.

Top of Page

Canadian Forces (CF) Information (NYLON)

Date: 1 March 1995 - 15 July 1996

As a member of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Canada was aware of the planning for OSCE-assisted negotiations on Nagorno-Karabakh. In September 1995, approval was given for Canadian participation in the OSCE High Level Planning Group (HLPG) for Nagorno-Karabakh. Canadian participation was given the name Operation NYLON, and consisted of three staff officers. They operated under the name Canadian Contingent to the OSCE.

The three officers arrived in Vienna in March 1995 for a one-year posting. The lieutenant colonel was to be employed in the operations cell, one major in the logistics cell and one major as the HLPG Chief Financial Officer. From 18 May to 1 June 1995, all three officers deployed to N-K as part of the HLPG reconnaissance mission.

In December 1995, two of the Canadian officers were seconded to the OSCE mission in Bosnia created to support the recently-signed Dayton Accord and were sent to the OSCE planning secretariat in Vienna. Both would return to the HLPG, but when it became clear that there was no apparent solution to the N-K problem, the Canadian contingent Commander and Canadian Embassy recommended that Canadian participation should end with the expiry of the extended HLPG mandate. Approval for the termination of Op NYLON was given on 7 June 1996, with the three officers scheduled to depart Vienna on 15 July.