Air Force becomes command authority for CFS Alert
Responsibility for CFS Alert—the northernmost permanently inhabited location in the world—changed hands April 1.
The station, previously under the control of Assistant Deputy Minister Information Management (IM) Group, became an Air Force component and unit of 8 Wing Trenton.
“We are pleased to receive command of CFS Alert,” said David Strong, an infrastructure and projects officer with the Alert Management Office at 1 Canadian Air Division. “There are new ideas and new initiatives planned, so we look forward to seeing how things will evolve in the next few years.”
The station’s personnel gather signals intelligence in support of military operations; operate and maintain radio facilities in support of search and rescue and other operations; and provide support to Environment Canada weather services and Arctic researchers.
The handover of command authority comes on the heels of equipment and process modernization at the station. The modernization reduced the number of personnel needed to manage the station, causing a swing in the balance of activity.
“As technology advanced, operations at Alert started being done remotely,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Stewart Beal, from the Directorate of Air Programmes.“Now, we’re at a point where most of the military personnel at Alert are support personnel.”
As a result, logistics support that was already being provided by the Air Force became the station’s main area of activity, demanding a formal shift in command authority.
Currently, Alert has 55 personnel: 21 are military, 30 are commercial contractors and four are Environment Canada employees.
The transfer of command includes the handover of certain responsibilities from the IM group to the Air Force. Tasks that now officially fall under the purview of the Air Force include the operation of the station, military facilities and equipment; and management of all agreements, contracts and policies associated with Alert.
CFS Alert is located on the northeastern tip of Ellesmere Island in the Canadian Arctic archipelago, 817 km from the geographic North Pole. It was first settled in the 1950s as a weather station.