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    (Photo by Patricia Leboeuf, Petawawa Post)

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    (Photo by Patricia Leboeuf, Petawawa Post)

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    (Photo by Patricia Leboeuf, Petawawa Post)

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    On National Aboriginal Day, June 21, 2 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group (2 CMBG) began its road to high readiness with the launch of Task Force Tomahawk. Among those celebrating the the event were (left to right) Elder Clem Sarazin, 2 CMBG Commander Colonel Conrad Mialkowski, Algonquins of Pikwàkanagàn Chief Kirby Whiteduck, 4th Canadian Division Commander Brigadier-General Lowell Thomas and Bearer of the the Department of National Defence (DND) and Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) Eagle Staff, Master Warrant Officer Stan Mercredi. (Photo by Patricia Leboeuf, Petawawa Post)

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    (Photo by Patricia Leboeuf, Petawawa Post)

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    (Photo by Patricia Leboeuf, Petawawa Post)

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    (Photo by Patricia Leboeuf, Petawawa Post)

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    This nearly 5,000-year-old tomahawk, held between BGen Thomas and Col Mialkowski, is the literal representation of the newly created Task Force. (Photo by Patricia Leboeuf, Petawawa Post)



2 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group unveils Task Force Tomahawk

Military News

By Patricia Leboeuf

Posted on Thursday, June 30, 2016

The unveiling of the newly formed Task Force Tomahawk (TFTH) was announced on National Aboriginal Day, chosen to honour the rich warrior culture of Canada’s First Nations people.

The declaration’s date wasn’t selected at random, but rather picked to celebrate the long history First Nations warriors have shared with their European-descended counterparts. For centuries, when Canada has been involved in a conflict, First Nations people have been there to lend their strength and knowledge. By choosing this name for the task force, the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) is acknowledging this historical and critical partnership.

“Algonquins have been a long ally to the Canadian government ... and we still considers ourselves to be allies,” said Algonquins of Pikwàkanagàn Chief Kirby Whiteduck.

The announcement was made using Aboriginal traditions including prayer, song and rites. Instead of standing on parade, about 700 soldiers sat in a circle, surrounding the drummers and speakers who stood on a medicine wheel. The DND/CAF Eagle Staff was also on display.

Town Crier Daniel Richer spoke about the meaning of these traditions, the importance they have, and shared stories that highlighted the integral use of tomahawks in First Nations culture. He hoped to inspire the CAF personnel in attendance.

“Show how wise you will be, how brave you will be,” said Richer. “If you do this right and if you mix your mind, your heart and your spirit, you will be truly our heroes.”

As part of the ceremony, a nearly 5,000-year-old tomahawk was presented to 4th Canadian Division Commander Brigadier-General Lowell Thomas, passed through the hands of 2 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group (2 CMBG) Commander Colonel Conrad Mialkowski, Whiteduck and Elder Clem Sarazin. It was a gesture replete with meaning as the tomahawk has been used for centuries by First Nations people both to create and destroy. Councils of war even began with a red-painted tomahawk placed on the ground; if war was decided, it was raised above the war-chief’s head.

“It is both symbolic and real,” said Col Mialkowski. “As we stand shoulder to shoulder honouring an important day across our nation.

“I believe that there is no better symbol that connects us to the name Petawawa and this land, and imbibes the warrior spirit and tradition of Canadians than a tomahawk,” he added.

TFTH marks the brigade’s journey to high readiness, slated to officially begin in July. TFTH soldiers will be ready for action, whether to help on domestic missions such as natural disaster relief, or abroad in Poland and Ukraine with Operation Reassurance and Operation Unifier, or even on Operation Impact in Iraq and Kuwait, joining a coalition against ISIS.

“We, much like this tool, will be an instrument for peace, or an instrument for war as required,” said Col Mialkowski.

TFTH is comprised of the regular and reserve warriors of the 4th Canadian Division and the aviators of 1 Wing Royal Canadian Air Force. It is capable of providing deployments nationally or overseas at reduced notice. It offers a command node, which incorporates joint, inter-agency and multi-national components.

According to Whiteduck, the tomahawk is a very versatile and utilitarian weapon. The Task Force bearing its name will have to follow suit, and rapidly adapt to new technology, platforms, tactics and knowledge.

“They’ll be quick into action for different reasons,” said Whiteduck.

Col Mialkowski also charged soldiers with three tasks: the creation of a crest for a patch, a motto, and the design of a tactical tomahawk that can be carried on operations.

“We need to be able to identify who we are as members of Task Force Tomahawk and reflect that caption back here to Petawawa and the community that surrounds it,” he said.

Soldiers with the creative spark are invited to share their design with their Chain of Command. The ultimate designs for all three will be decided during a war cabinet held the first week of August.