Canada’s special operations come out of the shadows. Again. Kind of.

June 30, 2016 by Adam Day

The Toronto Star has a series of articles out on the secretive Canadian Special Operations Forces Command (CANSOFCOM) that will certainly interest many readers.

Since its inception in 2006, CANSOFCOM has periodically made attempts to raise its profile with Canadians. This is clearly a good idea during a defence review, such as the one happening now. It’s probably important that everyone knows what your capabilities are–and that they’re important–lest your budget get slashed.

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Unofficial: Canadian Special Operations Forces Facebook
So what did we learn from this recent round of publicity? Not much.

CANSOFCOM has four main units: Joint Task Force 2 (JTF2) are the top-of-the-line counter-terrorist force (think U.S. Navy Seals or maybe even Delta Force); the Canadian Special Operations Regiment (CSOR) sometimes work alongside JTF2 and sometimes assault targets, but lately have started to specialize in training foreign forces like the Kurdish Peshmerga; the Canadian Joint Incidence Response Unit (CJIRU) specializes in chemical, biological and nuclear weapons; the 427 Special Operations Aviation Squadron (427 SOAS) gets all the guys above to where they need to be.

“When people think of special operations forces, they immediately think of rough and ready men running around in the night shooting people…. It’s important to underscore the fact that a lot of the work that [CANSOFCOM] does doesn’t involve gunfire,” CANSOFCOM Commander Brigadier-General Michael Rouleau told the Star. “It is sending smart people into complex areas and being able to provide ground truth or information back so senior leadership can make better informed decisions.”

We did learn from the articles that CANSOFCOM’s total size is more than 2,000 personnel, and that it gets $85 million as an annual budget. Though that last figure seems low.

“We’ve accepted that we’re going to have to show a certain amount of other parts of CANSOFCOM. The entire force of over 2,000 people cannot live in the shadows. That is unsustainable,” said Rouleau.

For more on all of these units, you could always read Legion Magazine, which has published several stories on CSOR (here and here) as well as stories on CJIRU and 427 SOAS.


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