Operational support hubs

Operational support hubs (OSH) are a series of pre-negotiated arrangements with other countries and service providers in those countries to facilitate the movement of people, materiel, equipment and supplies in far-reaching locations. These arrangements can also be activated in order to provide a location for these services.

OSHs are not military bases. The CAF maintain operational support hubs in overseas locations because they offer flexibility and cost-efficient ways to launch and sustain international operations and respond to crises, such as natural disasters, in a timely manner.

Locations

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. 

OSH – Europe

The CAF has operated a small European Operational Support Hub in Germany since 2009, with the consent of the German government. Originally located at the United States Air Force base at Spangdahlem in western Germany, it was relocated in July 2012 to the joint military-civilian airfield at Köln-Bonn to take advantage of the broader range of support services readily available in that region. CAF personnel are co-located with the German Air Force on the military side of the airfield.

This location at the large Köln-Bonn airport provides a very capable facility with 24/7 operating hours and infrastructure that can provide great flexibility in meeting the CAF requirements, as well as providing tremendous access to the full range of transportation networks required to support our OSH operations.

OSH – Kuwait

In 2011, Canada entered into an arrangement with Kuwait to establish an operational support detachment in Kuwait to support CAF operations in Afghanistan. The operational support detachment was a transportation point where CAF personnel, materiel, and equipment was transferred between modes of transportation (for example from air to sea), in order to reduce costs.

On 12 May 2014, Canada signed a new memorandum of understanding with Kuwait to establish and maintain an OSH for CAF personnel, materiel and equipment who will transit through Kuwait to and from their areas of operation outside of Kuwait, or who may be present in Kuwait.

OSH – Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC)

June 2016 will mark the first operational activation of the Canadian Armed Forces’ Operational Support Hub (OSH) Latin America and the Caribbean when it serves as the in-theatre support platform for CAF personnel participating in Exercise Tradewinds 16 in Jamaica.

Support will include:

  • Camp services (power, accommodations, workspaces and ablution facilities);
  • Equipment storage;
  • Transportation;
  • Feeding;
  • Communications; and
  • Local contracting

Levels of readiness for operations 

Caretaker status

Caretaker status

A hub at caretaker status is not staffed. It consists essentially of contracts, agreements and activation plans. CAF personnel 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.

 

Cadre status

Cadre status

When the CAF 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.

Full Activation

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. 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

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

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.

Personnel support

Personnel support

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

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.

Military Police

Military Police

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.

Engineer support

Engineer support

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

Communications and information support

Operational support hubs easily accommodate basic and advanced information and communications technology installations.

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