The West Island has seen the Canadian Armed Forces’ (CAF) come to the rescue on more than one occasion. The 2017 and 2019 floods meant a community addressing extreme flooding needed help. The COVID-19 may see the deployment of the CAF again but at the time of this publication no official deployment has taken place.
UPDATE March 23, 2020: While West Island sitings were real the CAF confirmed on social media that there was movement of vehicles as vehicles were transported home from another operation. Not Operation Laser.
Operation LASER is the Canadian Armed Forces’ (CAF) response to a worldwide pandemic situation. The CAF is prepared for this outbreak should the need become necessary.
HMCS Nanaimo and HMCS Whitehorse (ships) will return to Canada earlier than planned from #OpCARIBBE 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. The exact date is still to be determined as details are being finalized.
During Operation LASER, the CAF implement certain measures on their personnel and Department of National Defence (DND) employees to reduce the impacts of a pandemic situation. These measures are implemented in order to maintain operational capabilities and readiness to support Government of Canada objectives and requests for assistance.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
The three lines of effort for Operation LASER
- Preserve and protect CAF personnel to maintain operational capabilities and readiness, and meet the core mandates of the CAF.
- Assess CAF activities at home and abroad including continuity plans, protecting defence supply chains, and taking measures to limit the chance of infection of CAF personnel.
- Support other government departments to ensure the CAF are ready to support the Government of Canada’s objectives and requests for assistance.
Operation LASER is the activation of Contingency Plan (CONPLAN) LASER for the response to a pandemic of an influenza-like disease. It consists of 4 phases:
Phase 1: Pandemic preparedness
- Mitigation planning and normal monitoring of worldwide pandemic threats
- This phase is permanently activated unless a higher Phase is active
Phase 2: Pandemic alert
- Active monitoring of the evolving pandemic threat, with some protective measures adopted
- This phase is activated by the Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS)
Phase 3: Pandemic response
- Activated on order of the CDS, this phase is characterized by widespread and continuous transmission of the virus in the general population and the imminent risk or existence of significant absentee rates
- The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) response will be dependent on the disease’s impact in and around the location of CAF elements and requests for assistance to civil authorities
Phase 4: Post pandemic restoration
- This phase starts when the CDS declares that the pandemic situation has concluded
- This phase involves the resumption and re-establishment of all DND/CAF services and operations to normal levels
- This phase transitions back to Phase 1 and coincides with Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) declaring a post-pandemic phase
Operation LASER 20-01 – COVID-19
For up-to-date Government of Canada information related to COVID-19, please visit: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/coronavirus-disease-covid-19.html
The CDS activated phase 2 of Operation LASER on March 2, 2020. On March 13, 2020, he activated phase 3.
Joint Task Force-LASER
1st Canadian Division Headquarters is assigned as Joint Task Force-LASER (JTF-LR). They are a high-readiness, rapid-response unit based out of Kingston, Ontario.
JTF-LR is responsible for the coordination and command of all domestic operations related to Operation LASER. Their role is to:
- monitor and implement force health protection measures that preserve CAF operational capabilities and
- respond to and act on requests for assistance from other government departments and agencies
(source: CAF website)