Operational Support Hubs
An operational support hub is a node on one or more strategic lines of communications.
Canadian Joint Operations Command maintains operational support hubs in overseas locations to facilitate the movement of people, materiel, equipment and supplies to and from the various theatres of operations where its task forces are deployed.
The location of an operational support hub is carefully selected to provide:
- a safe and secure environment in a friendly nation; and
- an airport or a seaport or both capable of handling strategic-level movements of personnel, materiel, equipment and supplies.
Levels of readiness for operations
The size and capabilities of an operational support hub are related to its level of readiness, which is set in accordance with the nature and extent of the operational activity on its related strategic lines of communications.
Operational support hubs are maintained at three levels of readiness:
- caretaker status;
- cadre status; and
- fully activated.
A hub at caretaker status is not staffed, so it consists essentially of contracts, agreements and activation plans. Staff from CJOC Headquarters visit the location at least once per year to confirm arrangements with the host nation and contractors to ensure that the hub can be activated quickly if and when it is needed.
When the Canadian Forces establishes a presence in an operational theatre, the hub serving that region steps up from caretaker status to cadre status. At cadre status, the hub has limited facilities and a small staff (up to 10 personnel), sufficient to deliver essential operational support possibly including warehousing of pre-positioned materiel while preparing for potential full activation.
A fully activated operational support hub has the facilities and personnel required to support the projection and sustainment of task forces deployed in the operational theatres it serves.
Even at full activation, operational support hubs are only as large and complex as they need to be; the nature and extent of the operational support functions each hub offers are determined by the operational support staff at CJOC Headquarters. When the capabilities of a fully activated hub are no longer needed, the hub returns to cadre or caretaker status.
Functions of an operational support hub
Operational support hubs are designed to grow and contract according to the needs of the task forces they serve. Depending on their readiness level, hubs provide some or all of the following services.
Local procurement and contracting
Operational support hubs are placed in overseas locations that provide a good selection of local providers of goods and services that can be obtained under contract to benefit deployed task forces.
Material movement and storage
Among the most important functions of an operational support hub is handling shipments of equipment and supplies to and from deployed task forces.
When an operation is under way, an operational support hub provides the facilities and skilled staff required to receive shipments arriving by strategic airlift or by sea, inspect and prepare the contents for use in theatre, and reconfigure the loads for delivery to their destination by whatever means is necessary, such as tactical airlift. The operational support hub also serves as the final checkpoint for inspection and preparation of materials being shipped into a theatre of operations, or back to Canada.
An operational support hub is the ideal location for the various personnel support services required by deployed task forces, such as:
- the Arrival Assistance Group, to handle the administrative tasks involved in deploying Canadian Forces members into a theatre of operations;
- the Departure Assistance Group, to handle the re-deployment process for personnel who have completed their tour;
- pay and compensation services;
- personnel records management; and
- third-location decompression.
Health services support
With the cooperation of its host nation, a fully activated operational support hub can be adapted to offer health services support, such as aeromedical evacuation by strategic airlift, and admission to local hospitals for sick or injured Canadian Forces members who need to be stabilized before continuing their journey home.
Security is a major concern at operational support hubs, and the Military Police Security Service hires and supervises local security forces to safeguard warehousing and freight-forwarding facilities. Military Police services at a fully activated hub can extend to investigative and risk-mitigation services.
Depending on its readiness level, an operational support hub can offer some or all of the following engineer services:
- real property and lease agreements;
- environmental and industrial hazard assessment;
- facility construction, operation and maintenance;
- engineer contract management;
- engineering planning and design services;
- provisions for fire safety; and
- mission reduction and close-out services.
Communications and information support
Operational support hubs easily accommodate basic and advanced information and communications technology installations.
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