CJOC and Phase Zero
Jul 15, 2014

Canadian Joint Operations Command (CJOC), which officially stood-up on 5 October 2012, is responsible for conducting domestic and continental operations, expeditionary operations, and for providing operational support. CJOC effectively combines Canada Command (Canada COM), Canadian Expeditionary Force Command (CEFCOM) and Canadian Operational Support Command (CANOSCOM) into a single organizational command.

The CJOC Role
Today, CJOC is comprised of: its headquarters in Ottawa; task forces deployed on continental and expeditionary operations; six Regional Joint Task Forces (RJTF) across Canada; a support network that includes the Canadian Forces Joint Operational Support Group (CFJOSG), operational support hubs in Kuwait and Germany (with a third in development in Jamaica); and liaison officers that maintain relations with Canada’s partners and allies. These formations work together to achieve our mission to anticipate, prepare for, and conduct operations – to defend Canada, to assist in the defence of North America, and to promote peace and security around the world.

The structure and formation of CJOC, the RJTFs, JOSG and the other military components that assist CJOC, are all essential to achieving our mission. Continually improving our standards when working together is part of CJOC’s role to prepare for contingencies, and to command and conduct operations. All the while, CJOC must provide each unit with the framework to achieve mission success.

July 2014 – Major Thamer leads PPCLI paratroopers to their staging area to conduct an exercise in the Oleszno training area of Poland as part of NATO Reassurance exercises.
Commanding at the operational level means CJOC is able to provide effective, relevant and agile forces that are enabled to be flexible in their assigned missions and resilient in the face of challenges.

Our Forces must be trained and ready to deploy, some at a moment’s notice, to conduct operations. To do so requires understanding, preparedness and effectiveness in all aspects of our work, and achieving these three components at home and abroad comes down to what we do during what is referred to as Phase Zero.

Phase Zero refers to the steady state of activities before any specific operation is initiated. In other words, it encompasses all of that which occurs before the five doctrinal phases of an operation (warning, preparation, deployment, employment and redeployment) hence “phase zero.”

Command and Control
The six RJTFs across Canada provide command and control to task forces deployed on continental operations. They exercise the tactical level command of Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) during operations in their assigned areas of responsibility. The commander of a region in which an operation is occurring directs all assigned personnel and assets of the Royal Canadian Navy, the Canadian Army and the Royal Canadian Air Force. It should be noted that a special case exists in a Rapid-Response Operation (RRO), wherein the RJTF Commander can assume command of all CAF in his region.

CJOC is also assisted in command and control by the Maritime Component Commander (MCC) located in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and the Joint Force Air Component Commander (JFACC) based in Winnipeg Manitoba. The MCC and the JFACC are each responsible for planning, coordinating, allocating, tasking, and synchronizing maritime and air assets in support of CJOC. We also work closely with the 1st Canadian Division (1st Cdn Div) headquarters in Kingston, Ontario predominantly in the areas of non-combatant evacuation operations (NEO) and humanitarian assistance, but also in ensuring that we are ready to deploy a Combined Joint Inter-Agency Task Force (CJIATF) headquarters to any theatre.

To support our operations, the CFJOSG, headquartered at the Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Kingston, employs more than 1,700 military and civilian personnel across the country. These members work tirelessly from units across Canada to support operations and deliver capabilities such as theatre activation, health services, secure communications, logistics and sustainment. Remaining at high readiness, the CFJOSG executes a number of tasks tailored to each operation.

CJOC is also augmented by operational support hubs which exist as a series of pre-negotiated arrangements with partner nations to facilitate the movement of people, materiel, equipment and supplies in strategic locations. Strategic plans are created to determine where and at what level of readiness the hubs should maintain to support CAF operations. Hubs allow the CAF to reach a theatre of operation efficiently and to then sustain task forces for determined or indefinite periods of time.

April 2014 – Two CF-18 Hornets from 425 Tactical Fighter Sqn in Bagotville, Québec, fly to Keflavik, Iceland, in support of NATO Reassurance Measures.

Engaging with Operational Partners
Maintaining strong relationships with our partners and allies at home and around the world is crucial to our preparedness and can bring a higher level of understanding of myriad complexities and ambiguities of a tense operational environment.

Engaging with our partners builds trust and establishes relationships we can draw on to better understand the unpredictable security environment that exists today. But it doesn’t happen overnight. As the 22nd Commander of U.S. Pacific Command, United States Navy Admiral Robert Willard once said: “you can’t surge trust.”

Whether or not we are participating in a specific operation with our allies, we must continue to engage and communicate to assure we remain prepared collectively.

At home, we work closely with provincial emergency management offices and other government departments and agencies. There are 14 other government departments and agencies that CJOC works with to defend Canada and North America against a variety of threats including conventional military threats, rogue actors, and natural and man-made disasters. Maintaining dialogue with each department keeps CJOC cognizant of the wide range of responses available for mitigating potential threats to Canada and North America. Moreover, understanding how other federal departments or provincial authorities operate (often as the lead organization) as they fulfill their own specific security and safety mandates, allows us to provide more effective support of those operations.

May 2014 – HMCS Regina sails with her NATO insignia and flag in support of NATO Reassurance Measures in the Mediterranean Sea.

Humanitarian Assistance
The cooperative spirit has been exemplified during numerous iterations of Operation Lentus, the CAF contingency plan that outlines the joint response to provide Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Response (HADR) support to provincial and territorial authorities in the case of natural disasters. Op Lentus 13-01 was the CAF response to major flooding in southern Alberta in June 2013, a situation that was closely monitored by Alberta’s Government and Public Safety authorities. In preparation, Canadian Army soldiers from Edmonton, joined by local Army and Naval Reserve units were put on alert. The CAF responded to the request for assistance with 2300 soldiers, sailors, airmen and airwomen, who worked tirelessly to reduce human suffering and mitigate property damage.

Operation Lentus was again implemented in May 2014 to assist communities in the James Bay region of Ontario affected by spring flooding. Three operations took place, utilizing a CC-130 Hercules aircraft to evacuate Attawapiskat First Nations and residents of Kashechewan, Fort Albany.

July 2014 – Members of 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry based out of CFB Shilo, aid locals around Portage la Prairie, Manitoba in efforts to reduce damage from flooding during Operation Lentus.

In early July 2014, Op Lentus was once again implemented to support the Province of Manitoba in countering floods in southwestern areas at risk. A perfect example of efficient transition for international assistance occurred in November 2013 when Typhoon Hayan devastated the Philippines – setting off landslides, knocking out power and compromising communications in the country’s central region. A 43-member advance party of the Canadian Armed Forces’ DART (Disaster Assistance Response Team) deployed to the Philippines the same night that Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird announced the Government of Canada’s intention to provide military aid to the Philippines. The DART contingent, of just over 300 personnel in total, was deployed and operational on the ground within days.
Moving the necessary equipment and personnel halfway around the world to the Philippines is a momentous feat in itself. The fact that our Forces were able to do so in such a short time is a testament to why we remain prepared and work closely with our allies.

Medical services, humanitarian aid supplies and safe drinking water were available to the areas cut off and devastated by Typhoon Hayan in critical time. CJOC operational-level phase zero activities and engagements were critical enablers to the ultimate success of the mission.

Nov 2013 – MCpl Stephan Fortin, a DART Medic, checks locals in a refuge camp near Roxas city after the area was devastated by Typhoon Hailan, one of the largest typhoons on record.

Search and Rescue (SAR) Training
Search and rescue is another domestic operation conducted under CJOC, which is responsible to maintain the continuity of SAR training between incidents. For instance, CAF and Canadian Coast Guard personnel work side-by-side in the Joint Rescue Coordination Centres (JRCCs) maintaining alert around the clock. Interdepartmental coordination is ongoing regularly to ensure that SAR resources are able to respond to distress calls anywhere in the Canadian SAR areas of responsibility.

Feb 2014 – Search and Rescue Technicians from 442 Transport and Rescue Squadron await as a Cormorant helicopter comes in to land on top of a mountain near Hope, British Columbia during an annual SAR Exercise. (Photo: Bdr Albert Law, 39 Canadian Brigade Group)

Continental Protection
In North America, we work with our closest ally, the United States, on a daily basis at the command and staff levels at: the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD); U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM); United States Joint Space Operations Center (US JSpOC); and U.S. Strategic Command (US STRATCOM).

Aug 2013 – A CF-18 Hornet from 409 Tactical Fighter Squadron, Cold Lake, Alberta flies in Alaskan airspace in preparation for Exercise VIGILANT EAGLE 13.

The Tri-Command Initiative that is comprised of CJOC, NORAD, and USNORTHCOM demonstrates a commitment to strengthening our collective ability to defend North America by outlining our joint strategy for the defence of the North, our intent for joint training, and our strategic view on how the three Commands should cooperate and collaborate. By maintaining a strong partnership, we ensure that each nation is aware of threats and challenges and can man a joint, combined operation in the defence of North America, if necessary.

We work increasingly with Mexico as well. The North American Maritime ­Security Initiative (NAMSI) provides a foundation upon which to build trilateral cooperation in the area of maritime defence as Canadian, U.S., and Mexican forces respond to regional maritime threats.

Multi-national Cooperation and Partnerships
The CAF works in coalitions such as in Operation Caribbe, the counter narcotics operation in the Caribbean, and in Operation Artemis, the counter terrorism mission in the vicinity of the North Arabian Sea. Furthermore, the CAF works with NATO; an alliance that continues to remain relevant to Canada and important to international peace and security since its founding 65 years ago. The CAF have been consistently contributing to NATO exercises and operations since its genesis.

Most recently, we contributed six CF-188 Hornet fighter jets, the Royal Canadian Navy frigate HMCS Regina, a company of Canadian Army infantry, and 20 CAF operational planning staff to Central and Eastern Europe as part of NATO reassurance measures.

The CF-188 fighter jets are part of the Air Task Force (ATF) stationed in Câmpia Turzii, Romania conducting training with NATO allies. The training involves a high degree of military interoperability as the CAF fly alongside the MiG-21 LanceR aircraft used by the Romanian Air Force. These types of deployments help our Forces develop new skills and strengthen partnerships with our allies.

Liaison Officers
Our ability to transition seamlessly into different environments relies on partners and allies working together to support each other’s missions. We also need to understand each other’s responsibilities and capabilities. Deployed liaison officers are crucial to this end as they strengthen defence relationships with our primary allies. CJOC deploys liaison officers to NATO headquarters, to headquarters of our allies around the world including Unites States combatant commands (COCOM). These officers act as a conduit for information on operations and areas of mutual interest while interpreting and explaining information about the host to the command.

Planning and Practicing for Success
It is through the interaction with our partners at the domestic and international levels that CJOC can achieve a common understanding of regional problems and threats. Consequently, we can better plan for potential crises. Contingency plans are created to ensure immediate action can be taken if such a crisis occurs. Generic and specific contingency plans for humanitarian assistance, natural disasters and chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear attacks (CBRN) exist to ensure the Canadian Armed Forces can react immediately to any situation. Again, working with our closest ally the United States, CJOC has developed joint plans such as the Combined Defence Plan (CDP), a framework to synchronize military efforts from both countries into one coherent bilateral military defence plan. These plans are continually improved and expanded upon, based on lessons learned, to better prepare the CAF for the challenges of the global security environment through exercises and observations made during operations.

Practice is one of the most important factors in preparing for today’s global security climate. Every year the CAF strengthen and develop skills through a number of exercises at home and abroad – at the unit level and with our partners and allies. By simulating reality we can work on different aspects of an operation or plan at varying levels of complexity, improving each step of the way. Exercises ensure the CAF remain a joint, integrated, agile and ready force that can meet success in operations in defence of Canadian interests.

Units conduct training activities on a daily basis to hone their skills. National-level exercises, conducted by CJOC, give the CAF the opportunity to train from the lowest individual-level to the highest national-command level. These exercises leverage Army, Air Force, Navy, and Special Operation Forces to ensure joint training and readiness for the full spectrum of operations.

May 2013 – View of the Combined Air  Operations Centre in Cold Lake, Alberta  during Exercise MAPLE FLAG 2013 (JOINTEX 13).

Exercise Jointex is an example of a military exercise that helps develop and refine the skills required to meet the complexity of a changing international security environment. Monitoring and logging simulated incidents was the first step in the Jointex 13 training exercise. Live, virtual and constructive players shared the same training environment and reacted to synthetic incidents. The provision and functions of national command and control, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and sustainment while operating at home or abroad were practiced – everything that could be required for our Forces to ensure operational excellence.

Following operations and exercises, the Canadian Forces Warfare Center studies successes and obstacles to implement lessons learned in our existing doctrine. We train to crawl, then walk, then run.

Phase Zero
Anticipating operations means we must also constantly evolve to meet changing environments. It is through examining how we monitor, engage with operational partners, plan and practice that we can achieve even higher levels of preparedness, understanding and effectiveness. The key to improving these three areas is to capture the lessons learned from exercises and operations and to apply them in practical terms. This means adapting doctrine, training, tactics and procedures; and in making recommendations regarding CAF capability requirements.

This feeds back into our phase zero and continual efforts to improve the way our Forces meet the unpredictable nature of the security environment at home, in North America, and around the globe.

While it is impossible to predict the future, preparing for it is within our grasp. It is the responsibility of the CAF to maintain a high level of preparedness to respond to threats at home and abroad, and to support our partners and allies in making meaningful contributions to the full spectrum of international operations, in accordance with government direction.
Rear-Admiral Peter Ellis, C.D., is currently the Deputy Commander of Canadian Joint Operations Command (CJOC).
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