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COVID-19 impacts CAF operations worldwide

The coronavirus (COVID-19) is disrupting life across the globe. This disruption also affects the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF). With over 2000 CAF personnel deployed on about 20 different operations, the CAF is putting measures in place “to protect the health and well-being of our members, prevent the spread of this disease, and preserve our ability to conduct mission-essential military operations.”  

Some of the impacts from the COVID-19 for the CAF include:

  • Restriction of all international travel by commercial air, which affects personnel from taking leave from a mission
  • Deployed Task Forces will not participate in training activities, exercises, events, and public gatherings that will put CAF members at risk or contribute to the spread of COVID-19
  • Some on missions are self-isolating if they have recently traveled or feel there is potential they may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19
A crewmember aboard HMCS WHITEHORSE conducts weapon maintenance during Operation CARIBBE on February 10, 2020. Credit: Canadian Armed Forces Photo 20200211XCAA0001D005

Some of the changes to specific CAF operations due to COVID-19 include:

Op PROJECTION – Africa

  • HMCS Glace Bay and HMCS Shawinigan will return to Canada early from Op PROJECTION Africa due to the cancellation of two international exercises in response to the global effort to contain the spread of COVID-19. The ships will now arrive back in Halifax by mid-April. 

Op REASSURANCE – Maritime Task Force

  • All non-operational port visits and ceremonies aboard HMCS Fredericton have been cancelled.

Op CARIBBE

  • HMCS Nanaimo and HMCS Whitehorse will return to Canada earlier than planned from Op CARIBBE due to ongoing concerns of the spread of COVID-19. The ships were originally set to return to their homeport of Esquimalt, British Columbia, in mid-May and they are now expected to arrive in early April.

Op PALACI

  • Operation PALACI is set to continue until April, as planned, or until such a time that Parks Canada ends this year’s Avalanche Control Program. Canadian Armed Forces personnel in Roger’s Pass, B.C., are located at a remote camp, isolated from the general population.
  • All participants are following Public Health Agency of Canada advisories and taking the necessary precautions to limit exposure to the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. They have limited their excursions away from the camp to help reduce any risk to the personnel at the camp and to the operation.

Op ARTEMIS

  • CAF members deployed under Op ARTEMIS have returned to Canada.

The CAF has adopted strict preventative measures on all of its missions based on instructions from the Canadian Forces Health Services Group and guidance from host and partner nations. 

Author: Marcello Sukhdeo

Marcello is the managing editor of Vanguard, IT in Canada and Canadian Government Executive and the host of Vanguard Radio and WRLWND Radio podcasts. He is an avid technology and security enthusiast, who has worked on content leadership strategies for a number of industries including the public sector, life science, technology and defence.

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