JTF2’s top priorites: Dealing with domestic terror attack, 2010 Olympics says commander
By David Pugliese
The Ottawa Citizen
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Canada’s special forces including Joint Task Force 2 (JTF2) have identified their top two priorities as improving their ability to deal with a terrorist attack at home as well as preparing to provide security for the 2010 Olympics, according to a new publication being circulated among the military’s senior leadership.
The third and fourth priorities, respectively, are the contribution to international operations and the growth over the longer term of the special forces command, the organization that includes the Ottawa-based Joint Task Force 2 counter-terrorism unit and a special operations regiment in Petawawa.
The overview of the Canadian Special Operations Forces Command (CANSOFCOM) was produced in August and has made the rounds of the senior military leadership in the last several weeks. It is seen as a primer to explain what the command does and the direction it is headed.
The command’s continued development of domestic counter-terrorism skills includes the capability to deal with nuclear, biological, chemical or radiological attacks as well as to quickly provide a special operations task force to support law enforcement agencies. In the case of a terrorism incident in Canada, civilian law enforcement organizations would be the first to respond. Units such as JTF2 would be called in as a last resort.
For the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, the command notes that its ongoing preparation “includes completing the requisite planning, training, growth and integration required to provide the necessary (special operations forces) capability to assist with other government efforts to ensure the security of the Games.”
The command is expected to play a major security role at the Olympics and it is likely that much of JTF2’s force will be stationed in B.C. for the Games.
Commander Col. Michael Day points out in the publication that while special forces rely on intelligence and tight operational security, “Just as critical, they are dependent on enlightened and educated support by our conventional forces, allies and coalition partners as well as strong informed leadership with the CF.”
“The requirement for leaders of today and the future to have a full and in-depth understanding of who and what CANSOFCOM is, and most importantly, how to leverage the incredible capability our men and women represent, is critical to their success,” Col. Day writes.
In an interview earlier this year, Col. Day said the education about special forces within the Canadian military and government is continuing.
“That education piece is our responsibility,” he said. “If there’s ignorance, that’s our problem to solve.”
According to the publication, the command sees its contribution to international missions as including not only support to Canadian military operations, but also providing assistance to other government departments. In addition, that would include helping “select nations and allies to develop capacities and skills sets so that they can provide for their own internal security and defence,” the overview points out.
That is an indication that Canadian special operations could undertake training missions overseas, such as U.S. Green Berets.
The publication emphasizes that special forces must be used properly and such units are not a substitute for conventional forces. “In most cases, SOF are neither trained, nor equipped to conduct sustained conventional combat operations, and should not be substituted for conventional units,” it adds.
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