Operational support hubs

Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) operations abroad are enabled by operational support hubs (OSH) that exist through a series of pre-negotiated arrangements with partner nations to facilitate the movement of personnel, materiel, equipment and supplies in strategic locations around the world.


  • are not military bases
  • allow the CAF to move people, materiel, equipment and supplies around the world
  • allow the CAF to respond to crises like natural disasters in a timely way
  • offer fast, flexible and cost-efficient ways to launch and sustain global operations
  • can be activated or de-activated as needed


Currently, there are four operational support hubs in four locations across the globe, providing logistical support to ongoing CAF operations overseas:

The location of an OSH is selected with care to ensure:

OSH – Europe

The CAF has operated a small European OSH in Germany since 2009, with the consent of the German government.

It was first located at the United States Air Force base at Spangdahlem in western Germany. It was moved in July 2012 to the joint military-civilian airfield at Köln-Bonn to gain the broader range of readily-available support services in that region. CAF members are co-located with the German Air Force on the military side of the airfield.

This location at the large Köln-Bonn airport provides a very capable OSH that can operate on a 24/7 basis. It has flexible infrastructure to meet CAF requirements including access to the full range of transportation networks needed to support OSH operations.

OSH – Southwest Asia

In late 2011, Canada entered into an OSH arrangement with Kuwait to establish a means to support CAF operations in Afghanistan. This operational support detachment was a transportation point: a place where CAF personnel, materiel, and equipment were transferred between modes of transportation (for example from air to sea). This was done in order to reduce operational costs.

Canada signed a new agreement with Kuwait on May 12, 2014 to establish and maintain an OSH in Southwest Asia.

OSH – Southwest Asia:

OSH – Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC)

June 2016 marked the CAF’s first operational activation of the OSH-LAC.


OSH – West Africa

In Spring of 2018, an Interim Operational Support Hub (IOSH) was established at the Léopold Sédar Senghor (LSS) airport in Dakar, Senegal to support Operation (Op) PRESENCE Task Force Mali. This later became a standing OSH in West Africa.

OSH West Africa:

OSH operations - levels of readiness

The Government of Canada decides where the OSHs are and at what level of readiness an OSH is maintained. The composition of an OSH is scalable depending on the operational requirement of the task forces it supports within its geographic area.

Not Activated

Not Activated

An OSH that is not activated is not staffed. It consists of contracts, agreements, and activation plans. CAF members visit the location at least once per year. They confirm arrangements with the host nation and contractors. This ensures that the hub can be activated quickly if and when it is needed. When the CAF first goes in to an operational theatre, the hub serving that region begins the activation process with limited resources, including a small staff (up to 10 personnel). They can deliver essential operational support while preparing for potential full activation. This can include storage of pre-positioned materiel.

Fully Activated

Fully Activated

When an OSH is fully activated, it has everything it needs to support deployed task forces in the area it serves. It is staffed and supplied for both the current and projected needs in the operational theatre.

Even at full activation, operational support hubs are scalable. They are only as large and complex as they need to be. The operational support staff decide the nature and extent of the requirements for operations. The OSH returns to not activated status when fully-activated hub capabilities are no longer needed.

Functions of an operational support hub

OSHs are designed to be flexible. They grow and shrink according to the needs of the task forces they serve. The level of support depends on their readiness status. OSH provide some or all of the following services.

Local procurement and contracting

Local procurement and contracting

OSHs are placed in strategic locations in other countries. This allows for obtaining a good selection of local goods and services under contract. The overall intent is to benefit deployed task forces.

Material movement and storage

Material movement and storage

Shipping equipment and supplies to and from deployed task forces is among an OSH’s most important functions.

When an operation is underway, an OSH provides the facilities and skilled staff required to:

  • receive shipments arriving by air or sea
  • inspect and prepare the contents for use in theatre
  • reconfigure the loads for delivery to their destination by whatever means is needed, such as airlift

The OSH also serves as a final checkpoint. It inspects and prepares all materials being shipped into a theatre of operations, or back to Canada.

Personnel support

Personnel support

An OSH is the ideal location for various personnel support services. These are required by deployed task forces and include:

  • the Arrival Assistance Group
    • This group handles the administrative tasks involved in deploying CAF members into a theatre of operations
  • the Departure Assistance Group
    • This group handles the process to send CAF members who have completed their tour back to Canada
  • pay and compensation services
  • personnel records management
  • mid-tour leave
Health services support

Health services support

A fully activated OSH can be adapted to offer health services support. This support requires the cooperation of the host nation. Health services support can include:

  • medical evacuation by airlift
  • admission to local hospitals for sick or injured CAF members who need to be stabilized before continuing their journey home
Military Police

Military Police

Security is a major concern at OSH. The Military Police Security Service hires and supervises local security forces. This is done to safeguard warehousing and freight-forwarding facilities. Military Police services at a fully activated hub can extend to investigative and risk-mitigation services.

Engineer support

Engineer support

Depending on its readiness level, an OSH can offer some or all of the following engineer services:

  • real property and lease agreements
  • environmental and industrial hazard assessment
  • facility construction, operation and maintenance
  • engineer contract management
  • engineering planning and design services
  • provisions for fire safety
  • mission reduction and close-out services
Communications and information support

Communications and information support

OSH easily accommodate installations of basic and advanced information and communications technology.

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