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NOTES ON A FACT-FINDING TRIP TO DWYER HILL, OTTAWA, LANSDOWNE AND KINGSTON

7-9 MAY 2002

The Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence

Grant Purves
Political and Social Affairs Division

Library of Parliament
13 November 2002


 

TUESDAY, 7 MAY 2002 – DWYER HILL, OTTAWA AND LANSDOWNE

 

JOINT TASK FORCE 2

 

The Committee visited Dwyer Hill and was briefed about Joint Task Force 2 by its Commanding Officer.

 

   A.  Personnel Selection

 

The Force will increase in size slowly because quality will not be sacrificed.  To be selected for a “tryout” in Dwyer Hill the recruit must have served for about seven years in the Canadian Forces, have a stable family and financial background free of substance abuse, and receive a favourable recommendation from his/her commanding officer.  If the recruit passes the “tryout,” basic training lasts for approximately seven months.  At some point the recruit takes psychological tests administered by a contract psychologist to ensure his/her personality is mature and stable.  Because training standards are very high, only about 22% of those who take the “tryout” eventually become “assaulters” in the Force.  Because of its special nature, all training is done by the Force itself.  

The first engagement is for three to five years, after which the soldier must decide whether or not to make the Force his/her career.  This choice must be made because after about five years away from the original unit the soldier’s knowledge of his/her regular trade becomes stale, and a return to the unit is not feasible.  After about seven years as an assaulter, members are eligible for special training as snipers, divers, explosives experts, etc.

 


   B.  Organization

 

The Commanding Officer of Joint Task Force 2 reports directly to the Deputy Chief of the Defence Staff.  The proposed increase in size will lead to the formation of an additional Assault Squadron.  In addition, there is a Headquarters Squadron, a Training Squadron, a Support Squadron, and an Air Detachment equipped with Griffon helicopters.

 

   C.  Operations

 

The unit is always on high alert for readiness to move.  The Commanding Officer must be ready to be “out the door” within two hours, the advance party within four hours and the main body within seven hoursThe unit moves by air transport and by road; in addition to ground and helicopter assault, most assaulters have paratroop qualifications.

 

   D.  Command and Control – Domestic Operation

 

Joint Task Force 2 trains frequently with the RCMP and occasionally with the Ontario and Quebec provincial police forces and the police forces of large cities such as Montréal, Toronto and Vancouver.  As a result, the Commanding Officer of Joint Task Force 2 knows, and is known by, most senior police officers of the major police forces across the country.  

By the time Joint Task Force 2 has been called out, at least the immediate incident site will be under the jurisdiction of the RCMP, which has legal jurisdiction over the investigation of terrorist incidents.  A request for the assistance of the Joint Task Force is therefore made to the local RCMP or directly to the Solicitor General by a province.  It then passes to National Defence and the Deputy Chief of the Defence Staff, who is responsible for Joint Task Force 2.  

            Within two hours, the Commanding Officer leaves to consult with the RCMP officer in charge of the incident site.  The two officers sign a document turning the site over to Joint Task Force 2, but the document may not be acted upon immediately or at all.  Even before the document is signed, members of the Joint Task Force have been given police powers.  Once the site has been secured, the two officers sign another document restoring RCMP control.  (Thus the incident site moves from being the site of a criminal investigation to the site of military operations and back again.) 


   E.  Communications Security Establishment

 

                        On Tuesday afternoon, the Committee visited the Communications Security Establishment headquarters in Ottawa for a round of briefings about Canada’s crypto logic agency.  The Communications Security Establishment acquires and uses information from the global information infrastructure to provide foreign intelligence to meet Canadian needs; it advises on the protection of Canadian electronic information and information structures; and it provides technical and operational assistance to federal law enforcement and security services.  The Committee received briefings on information technology security, the legislation and other authorities that govern the operations of the Establishment, the Security of Information Act (which has replaced the Official Secrets Act), etc., and toured the building.  

                        The visit made it absolutely clear to the Committee that the Government must provide the Establishment with the resources necessary to maintain its ability to equip itself with state-of-the-art computers and the staff necessary to use and exploit them.  The briefing personnel seemed happy with the new Security of Information Act.  

                        The Committee learned that the Communications Security Establishment can help police forces to decode any domestic communications that the latter are legally entitled to intercept.

 

   

F.  The Thousand Islands Bridge, Lansdowne, Ontario

 

                        Late on Tuesday afternoon, the Committee visited the headquarters of the St. Lawrence District, Canada Customs, and the border crossing at the Thousand Islands Bridge.  The port of entry operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for passenger traffic, and offers commercial service 24 hours a day on weekdays.  In 2000-2001, almost 2 million travellers and 600,000 cars crossed the border here into Canada, as did 250,000 trucks.  From Lansdowne, service is extended to seasonal small vessel traffic and tour boat traffic (there were 35,000 vessel report-ins), the municipal airports of Gananoque and Kingston, and the seaplane bases of Gananoque and Collins Bay.  A chain of 45 designated telephone reporting locations processes about 42,000 calls from owners of aircraft, boats, snowmobiles and cars that use this system in the Northern Ontario Region and the eastern part of the Prairie Region.  

                        The Committee was briefed by Cathy Monroe, Regional Director of Customs for Northern Ontario, and by local officials.  During these briefings the Committee learned that the Canadian officials are as well equipped as their U.S. counterparts and that they cooperate fully with each other, right down to exchanging equipment.  Cooperation with U.S. officials has intensified since 11 September 2001.  

                        Members of the Committee expressed concern about a number of issues:  

§      The telephone reporting system basically operates on the honour system – border crossers phone in and the centre decides whether or not to dispatch someone to meet them.  Holders of a CANPASS may be checked on a random basis.  Airports and marinas are monitored, sometimes by a video camera.

 

§      Even more disturbing were the accounts of how refugee claimants are handled.  About 50-100 persons coming from the United States apply for refugee status at the Canadian border rather than in the United States.  Lansdowne has 24-30 hours to decide whether to detain these people or, as is usually done, collect what information the refugee claimants can or are willing to divulge, and then allow them to enter with instructions to report to and register at an inland location.  Once these people have been allowed to enter, no effort is made to check whether they are residing at the address they gave on registering during the roughly two years it will take before their claim is processed.

 

§      Lansdowne has space to unload only one truck at a time.  Of the 23,000 trucks crossing into Canada each month, about 500 are “back-ended” – their rear doors are opened and inspectors look in or the dog team may be sent in to sniff the containers – and 50-60 are offloaded and their contents checked manually or by X-ray.

 

WEDNESDAY, 8 MAY 2002 – KINGSTON

 

   A.  Lieutenant-Colonel Tarrant, Deputy Director of Army Training

 

                        Lieutenant-Colonel Tarrant, Deputy Director of Army Training, briefed the Committee on the resources devoted to training, the costs of training non-commissioned ranks and officers, and some of the challenges that the training establishment faces.  

                        There are five Developmental Periods in the training of a non-commissioned member of the army.  The first, for example, consists of 10 weeks of basic training for the recruit, which is followed by 12.4 weeks of army-specific training and 5.6-10.5 weeks of occupational training.  This training qualifies the soldier as a trained Private.  The second Developmental Period takes in trained and experienced Privates and trains them as junior non-commissioned officers, and so on.  The costs of training are staggering – about $425,000 to turn a recruit into a Warrant Officer in the infantry, $570,000 to train in the artillery and $600,000 in the armoured corps.  

                        There are four Developmental Periods in the professional training of an officer from Officer Cadet to General Officer, beginning with basic training (14 weeks plus 10 weeks of second-language training), followed by 11 weeks of army-specific training and 37 weeks of occupational training for infantry officers or 22 weeks of training for armoured corps and artillery officers.  The training costs from Officer Cadet to General Officer are about $961,000 in the armoured corps, $1,041,000 in the artillery and $1,127,000 in the infantry.  

                        Although grade 10 education has been required for 20 years, almost all of today’s recruits are high school graduates and many have at least some college education.  

                        Reservists are essential to maintaining the Battle Groups abroad – 250 participate in each rotation – but they require 60-70 days of training to develop their skills before being deployed.  Since reserve soldiers can be paid for the equivalent of only 35 days a year, their training opportunities are much more limited than those available to regulars, who work a 270-day year.  Reservists are given only the most essential part of the courses; if they join the regulars, they have to make up for their lack of full training.  The planned increase in the strength of the Reserves from 15,000 to 18,000 had not been funded at the time of the Committee’s visit.  

                        To maintain their skills and operational experience, instructors are posted for only three years before they return to their units.  The most effective are the full-time instructors, but these must be supplemented from the units in the summer due to staff shortages.  The cost of moving a soldier and his/her family averages about $40,000; for reasons of economy, only about two-thirds of those who should be moved, are moved.  

                        At the time of the Committee’s visit, a shortage of training staff for both officers and men was the most critical problem and had serious implications for the Field Force.  The additional 177 officers and non-commissioned officers needed for training were equivalent to the staff of three battalions.  A second problem was the shortage of supplies and ammunition for new equipment once provision had been made for overseas deployments.  

                        If the current recruiting drive is successful, it would take almost five years to produce the trained and experienced soldiers necessary to meet the needs of the army.  

                        Lieutenant-Colonel Brad Boswell, Acting Director of Army Doctrine, briefed the Committee on how the Land Force Doctrine and Training System planned and managed the intellectual development of the army.  To promote communications interoperability, they intended to test all the communications equipment used by the United States, Britain, Australia, and Canada to determine what could work together.  At present, the new Canadian digital communications equipment is fully interoperable with U.S. equipment.

   

 

B.  Captain Pascal Durocher, Deputy Commanding Officer,  
         2 Electronic Warfare Squadron
 
                        The Committee shared a stand-up lunch with the officers, men and women of the Electronic Warfare Squadron and learned a great deal about the ineffectiveness of the equipment and consequent frustrations of the Squadron staff.  

                        The ASDIC intelligence-gathering system has never worked.  A company that has now gone out of business originally supplied it on a pre-production basis.  As a result, there are no spare parts and a second unit is now being cannibalized to supply the parts necessary to keep the remaining three in operation.  In the forward unit, only one of the three functions actually works; the electronics are prone to damage by cross-country movement.  While the forward unit has voice communication with the soft-skinned base unit that processes data at the rear, it cannot transmit the data.  

                        The coding and decoding functions are increasingly obsolete.  Modern systems are digital and “frequency hop” as an added measure of security.  The CRTC, however, restricts the military to its assigned bandwidths, with the result that Canadian equipment cannot frequency hop.  It is thus more difficult both to develop code-breaking skills and to make Canadian communications secure.  

                        Personnel could make the ASDIC systems work if they were allowed to bypass the procurement system and buy off-the-shelf parts.  Off-the-shelf parts would also have the advantage of being relatively inexpensive and easily replaced.  

                        This electronic warfare element of Signals seems out of place.  The men and women seem to feel that they are neither wanted nor understood where they are; hence, they believe, they and their requirements receive a very low priority.  Their work involves signals intelligence rather than setting up and managing communications systems; would they be more at home assigned to Intelligence instead of Signals?

 

 

C.  Lieutenant-Colonel Michael Cessford, Acting Commander, Canadian Forces Joint Operations Group

 

                        Lieutenant-Colonel Michael Cessford, Acting Commander, Canadian Forces Joint Operations Group, briefed the Committee about the mission of the Joint Operations Group.  The mission is to provide a rapidly deployable, joint operational-level command and control capability for domestic and international missions.  Prior to the Group’s formation in 2000, the military had established ad hoc headquarters on a mission-by-mission basis, whether the mission was to participate in the Gulf War, or to help deal with the Winnipeg flood of 1997 or the 1998 ice storm in eastern Ontario and western Quebec.  Canada can now begin deployment of a headquarters within 48 hours, and insert an advance party of a command and control unit within seven days.  The Joint Operations Group provides the core of this unit, with one third of its staff of 128 being deployed at a time.

 

   D.  Major Wayne Gauthier

 

                        Major Wayne Gauthier briefed the Committee about the capabilities of the Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART), which is an integral part of the Joint Operations Group.  The Disaster Assistance Response Team is ready to move on 12 hours’ notice.  On deployment, it provides the four critical needs in an emergency situation: primary medical care; water purification; a limited engineering capacity; and a command and control structure.  It is self-sufficient for two weeks and includes a security section.  It is staffed by about 200 personnel and requires about 26 Hercules aircraft (four rented Antonovs) to move.

 

THURSDAY, 9 MAY 2002 – KINGSTON

 

   A.  Canadian Forces School of Communications and Electronics

 

                        Major Hall, Deputy Commandant of the Canadian Forces School of Communications and Electronics, gave a short briefing to the Committee.  The School trains soldiers how to set up, operate and maintain radio, telephone and computer communications in Canada and abroad.  Following the briefing, the Committee visited various classrooms and spoke with instructors and students before having lunch with some of the students.

                        The School lost its major building as a result of the halt in recruitment when the Forces downsized in the 1990s.  Now it is desperately short of space.

§      The Parade Square has about 20 temporary, portable structures. Twelve double trailers are on order and will be located at another site.

 

§      A converted garage has been developed into classrooms, but it leaks and is referred to as the “swimming pool.”  Its water supply, although potable, is an unsightly brown colour.

 

§      Funds are so short that old, unused buildings cannot be torn down.

 

§      Because the buildings are old, they have asbestos in their ceilings that must be removed before renovations can be done.  This adds about 25% to the cost of renovations.

 

§      Students share accommodation – four to a room about 16 feet by 16 feet.

 

                        Lack of staff is making it increasingly difficult to keep up with the demand for training.  The platoon of PATs (Privates Awaiting Training) has increased from the size of a platoon (30) to more than a company (174).  While some training can be extemporized for them (driver training, or further corps training back at their units – the latter is still unfunded, but done on the initiative of the School Commander), most of their time is wasted.  The normal waiting period seems to be at least seven months, but depending on the rhythm of courses and whether the recruit is prepared to take training in his/her non-maternal language, the wait can be more than a year.  When the Committee visited, about 30 PATS were watching TV, others were working in the tuck shop, etc.  

                        There are currently 180 students in the Practically Oriented Electronics Training program.  Although the number of seats will be more than doubled to 384, there is a demand for 550-600 spaces.  

                        The courses the Committee observed had a fair percentage of female students – 20% to about 33%.  The courses were generally open to reservists.  

                        One of the instructors, Staff Sergeant Francis, is a reservist.  If he decides to go regular, his rank will drop to Corporal (a $27,000-a-year salary difference) and he will have to take a lot of courses, some of which he has instructed.  As a reservist, he gets no pension.  (A naval reservist on duty aboard a coastal defence vessel in the West made the same point, but at least he had not instructed some of the courses he would have to take to regain his reserve rank in the regular force.)


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