Changes to military operations in response to COVID-19

The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) are deployed across Canada and the world on over 20 different operations. Given the nature of our missions, we must be ready at all times to conduct military operations, at home and abroad. Consequently, the CAF have taken an aggressive approach to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 within our force and with whom we work with while conducting operations.

For each of the regions and countries within which we operate, a detailed analysis of our operations has been conducted to determine whether further adjustments are required to protect our personnel while ensuring continuity for critical tasks.

Following reviews in April and June 2020, the CAF made changes to some of our active and upcoming missions. These adjustments ranged from delaying the deployment of some capabilities, to amending the number of CAF personnel deployed, to modifying the length of deployments as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The decision to delay or adjust the number of personnel deployed on select missions was a balance between weighing the acceptable risk factors for our personnel, our ability to sustain the mission, and the impact any changes would have on the mission itself. For some operations, this decision is the result of a pause in operational activities by the host or partner nations. In others, it is preferable to delay the movement of forces in and out of missions at this time. Regardless, these changes will demand more flexibility from our personnel and their families as they may experience longer duration deployments or face delays in their planned deployment.

The CAF constantly analyze the risk factors associated with the COVID-19 environment. Our goal is to return to our scheduled operations at full strength when conditions permit. Our priority remains the safety and security of our men and women in uniform while maintaining continuity of our operations where possible.

Despite the limitations of operating in a COVID-19 environment, the CAF have remained agile and able to conduct successful missions around the world, all while adhering to both domestic and host nation COVID-19 safety requirements. Working alongside our regional partners and Allies, the CAF continues to successfully conduct operations at home and abroad, while minimizing the risk to the safety of our personnel and the populations we serve.

Our strength is in the professionalism of our military force, as we stand united to combat COVID-19.

CAF operations adjustments

Canada and North America

Canada and North America

Name Description
Operation NANOOK Op NANOOK-TATIGIIT and Op NANOOK-NUNAKPUT will be rescheduled. Op NANOOK-TUUGAALIK will proceed as planned from 4 to 23 August, however, due to COVID-19 considerations, port visits will not take place in any Nunavut communities.
Operation NEVUS Maintenance activities will be pared down to only those essential to maintain operational requirements.
Seach and Rescue On March 27, 2020, as a force protection measure due to COVID-19, the Search and Rescue (SAR) readiness posture had been temporarily adjusted to a two-hour response time (from initial mission call to aircraft take-off). On June 29, all SAR units had resumed the normal readiness posture state of 30 minutes from call to take-off during normal working hours (Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.).
National Sentry Program On July 13, 2020, the National Sentry Program resumed, at a reduced posture, with COVID-19 protective measures in place.

Central and South America

Central and South America

Name Description
Operation CARIBBE HMCS Nanaimo and HMCS Whitehorse returned to Esquimalt on 7 April, 2020, from Op CARIBBE earlier than planned due to concerns regarding the spread of COVID-19 and associated logistics challenges due to closed ports in the region at the time. RCAF Long Range Patrol Aircraft and RCN deployments have been postponed.
Exercise TRADEWINDS The United States has decided to cancel this exercise due to the current COVID-19 challenges. The CAF remain poised to support in 2021.

Europe

Europe

Name Description
Operation DISTINCTION Scheduled activities and events, both at home and abroad, have been deferred to 2021.
Operation ILLUMINATION The last deployment to Iceland on Op ILLUMINATION concluded as scheduled mid-May.
Operation KOBOLD There are no changes to Canada’s current deployment to Kosovo in support of the KFOR mission. However, there was a four week delay to the spring rotation of personnel due to COVID-19 related restrictions.
Operation OPEN SPIRIT Due to current restrictions related to COVID-19, participation in this operation will be deferred.
Operation REASSURANCE No major changes to Canada’s current mission, personnel or tasks, for Op REASSURANCE were made or are planned at this time. At present, the land, air and sea components will continue as currently planned. CAF members on this mission continue to take strict preventative measures based on instructions released by Canadian Forces Health Services Group, as well as the policies set out by the Host Nation and in consultation with other Partner Nations.
Operation SNOWGOOSE No major changes were made, or are planned for the mission, personnel or tasks due to COVID-19.
Operation UNIFIER As announced on 26 March 2020, the decision was made to initially deploy 60 CAF personnel to relieve the 200-strong contingent in place at the time for the planned rotation of personnel in April 2020. The approximately 140 remaining CAF personnel scheduled to deploy remained on high readiness in Canada to engage in training as soon as conditions would permit. In June, approximately 90 personnel from the remaining contingent deployed to Ukraine to prepare for the resumption of collective training in July. Now at a strength of approximately 160 personnel, Op UNIFIER has resumed some collective training with the Security Forces of Ukraine. The next rotation of personnel is planned for Fall 2020.

Africa

Africa

Name Description
Operation CROCODILE CAF personnel currently stationed in Goma and in Kinshasa have remained in place. Personnel rotations are ongoing, and aim to be completed by end-July.
Operation FREQUENCE The latest iteration of the mission took place from 26 June to 4 July 2020, where the Canadian Armed Forces supported our Ally by successfully transporting cargo between France and the Sahel region of Africa using a CC-177 Globemaster.
Operation NABERIUS Following consultations with our host nation partners, and in strict accordance with CAF preventive and public health measures, Operation NABERIUS is set to resume.
Operation PRESENCE (MALI) There has been a minimal reduction in staff officer personnel in Bamako due to reduced MINUSMA operational tempo in March. Rotations of personnel will take place between the end of July and August.
Operation PRESENCE (UGANDA) The mission iterations scheduled for the Spring were deferred due to COVID-19 isolation requirements for aircrews put in place by the host nation, as these requirements would have limited the availability of the aircraft and its crew for other operations. The mission has resumed its normal deployment schedule, with the next iteration taking place from 14 to 25 July 2020.
Operation SOPRANO A limited number of personnel were temporarily relocated from the sector regions to Juba in March. Personnel rotations were suspended by the United Nations for this mission until September. Approval from UN and host nation to resume is pending.

Middle East

Middle East

Name Description
Operation CALUMET No major changes were made for the mission, personnel or tasks. However, deployment timelines for the spring rotation of personnel on Op CALUMET were impacted by COVID-19 travel restrictions. Rotations scheduled to take place in the summer are occurring on their regularly scheduled timelines.
Operation FOUNDATION No major changes were made, or are planned for the mission, personnel or tasks due to COVID-19.
Operation IMPACT Coalition and NATO training activities and partnered operations are currently on pause as a mitigation measure to prevent the spread of COVID-19. In light of this operational pause, Canada has temporarily repositioned the majority of its military personnel from Iraq. A small number of key personnel have remained in place throughout in order to conduct critical coordination and support activities. Recently, NATO Mission Iraq saw a new rotation of personnel arrive in theatre, while still respecting COVID-19 mitigation posturing. Personnel on capacity building operations in Lebanon and Jordan have remained in country and are currently working with their host nation partners to determine the conditions for a resumption of capacity building activities. Under the Coalition’s special operations mission, Canadian Special Operations Forces Command (CANSOFCOM) has reduced its footprint, including the return of its Tactical Aviation Detachment. CANSOFCOM elements remaining in theatre are focused on force protection measures, including COVID-19 risk mitigation.
Operation JADE Other than minor deployment date changes in order to comply with specific country restrictions, there have been no major modifications to the mission, personnel or tasks as a result of COVID-19.
Operation PROTEUS No major changes were made, or are planned for the mission, personnel or tasks due to COVID-19. Deployed CAF members are following strict health protection measures set out by the CAF and the Host Nation at all times.

Asia-Pacific

Asia-Pacific

Name Description
Operation NEON HMCS Winnipeg will deploy on Operation NEON from September to December 2020 following its participation in Exercise RIMPAC 20 in August.
Operation PROJECTION Due to the cancellation of major events in Southeast Asia and the closure of many borders, HMCS Calgary’s Op PROJECTION deployment this spring was cancelled. HMCS Winnipeg will be deploying under Op PROJECTION from September to December 2020 in concurrence with its Op NEON deployment following its participation on RIMPAC 20.
Exercise RIMPAC United States Pacific Fleet has recently announced changes to the timing and scope of RIMPAC 2020 due to COVID-19. The exercise is now limited to the last two weeks of August with no training events ashore. The CAF are in close communication with the United States Navy, and have scaled down their participation in RIMPAC to balance the requirement to complete critical tasks and high readiness training in support of planned operations, with the requirement to protect the health and safety of our personnel. Two Royal Canadian Navy ships deployed this summer to participate in RIMPAC 20, HMCS Winnipeg and HMCS Regina. Both ships have embarked CH-148 Cyclone Air Detachments.

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