Support to Operations


From the earliest planning stages through to completion and mission closure, military operations of all kinds depend for their success on a complex web of support activities.

Operational support provides task forces with the administrative, logistic, personnel support and specialist services required to ensure effectiveness throughout their tour of duty.

Basis in policy

The Canadian Armed Forces define “operational support” as “the action of a force… that directly aids or sustains the operations of another force, either within a theatre of operations or along strategic lines of communication.” It includes any support activity that:

  • is not a specific responsibility of the Royal Canadian Navy, the Canadian Army, or the Royal Canadian Air Force
  • is beyond the capability of support units at the tactical level

Canadian Armed Forces support activities of all kinds arise from policy direction set out in the Canada First Defence Strategy of May 2008. Operational support specifically relates to “Readiness,” the third of four pillars of the Canada First Defence Strategy. “Readiness” refers to the Canadian Armed Forces flexibility and preparedness to deploy in response to government direction, encompassing the resources needed to maintain equipment, conduct training and prepare units for operations.

Operational support activities

Operational support in the Canadian Armed Forces covers the following range of activities:

  • Logistics, including:
    • supply, providing deployed task forces with food, fuel, ammunition, equipment and mail
    • movement control and transportation, delivering materiel, equipment and personnel to theatres of operations
  • Land equipment maintenance, ensuring that weapons systems and vehicles issued to deployed task forces are ready for operational use
  • Communications and information management, providing voice, text and data equipment and related services of all types to give deployed task forces reliable round-the-world connectivity
  • Military engineering, providing the infrastructure required to:
    • sustain and protect deployed task forces
    • enable them to move freely
  • Health care, providing the medical and dental services required to:
    • keep deployed personnel fit for operations
    • sustain casualties through the evacuation chain
  • Security, including:
    • law enforcement
    • personnel and materiel security
    • traffic control
    • detention
  • Personnel support, including:
    • human resources administration and management
    • casualty support
    • mortuary services and repatriation of human remains
    • historical reporting
    • morale and welfare support
    • chaplain services

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