Op PODIUM theatre deactivation
Operation PODIUM, one of Canada’s largest domestic operations, involved four years of planning followed by months of co-ordinated preparation of sites in the Vancouver and Whistler areas to house the 4 500 troops required to ensure the safety of the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.
But as the old saying goes, “What goes up must come down!” Accordingly, a theatre deactivation team (TDAT) was formed to ensure that what had taken months to set up would be disassembled, deconstructed and cleared of all military personnel in days.
Following the close of the Olympics, 10 sites were deactivated over a span of 11 days – 3 500 troops returned to their units, support staff repatriated, morale and welfare equipment returned, and thousands of dollars' worth of equipment and vehicles was inspected, prepared and shipped all over Canada.
A smaller version of this deactivation, involving 1 000 personnel, took place following the close of the Paralympic Games.
The deactivation timeline was primarily driven by joint task force support element’s communication information systems (CIS), responsible for the technical inspection, preparation and deactivation of all communication, command and control systems while maintaining support capabilities for personnel remaining in the JOA. Given the many locations and distances between them, co-ordination of each site’s CIS teardown had to be finely orchestrated, taking into account all other support and transportation requirements.
The logistic support group supply (Log Sp Sup) responsibility was to verify all supply customer accounts, and prepare, package and ship all CF assets to a staging area. CIS and Log Sp Sup tasks were closely intertwined and the decision was made to embed a Log Sp team with each CIS team for the execution of each site/temporary accommodation facility deactivation. The first TAF teardown was seamless, efficient and completed faster than projected, placing the teams to be ahead of the game.
World events and the G8 meetings meant that equipment used during Op PODIUM was tagged for immediate use after the Games, and so had to be identified, sorted, prepared and palletized for onward movement to five locations. The G8-identified equipment required rapid redeployment.
During a site/TAF’s closure, equipment was marked with its next destination and sent to a warehouse, where a Log Sp production team sorted it, loaded it on pallets and loaded the pallets on trucks. By performing all the packaging, inspection, and destination identification tasks on the site/TAF, the time required to move equipment to its next destination was vastly reduced.
Log Sp Tn, Central Material Traffic Terminal, Maintenance, and Movement Control Detachment co-ordinated the inspection and return of more than 500 rental vehicles, and the retrieval (from 11 sites), inspection and loading of close to 300 shipments of vehicles and sea containers to be either returned to a local contractor or shipped out of the JOA.
Ensuring that environmental concerns were addressed was an important part of the deactivation process. All sites/TAFs had to be returned to their before-Games occupation, and assessed for environmental damage of any kind. Remediation had to be either undertaken or planned for before decommissioning.
Engineering Support Group (ESG) inspectors regularly assessed all sites/TAFs throughout the operation in order to address any preventive practice shortfalls and equipment shortages. Every HAZMAT spill, regardless of size, was recorded, and that record included details of remediation actions. The northern sites/TAFs had an engineer embedded to mitigate impact to the surrounding environment and take immediate steps to remediate any issues or spills, and the damage control team was stood ready to provide immediate HAZMAT support in case of a severe spill. Tire ruts were levelled, grass was reseeded and in some cases pavers re-positioned. While some of the remediation work will have to wait for spring, the majority of sites/ TAFs were put back to original form.
The incredibly ambitious task during the operation planning phase, and the vanishing act of 4 500 troops and all the related equipment and materiel, was a remarkably smooth undertaking. The success of Op PODIUM and the lessons learned during this operation will provide the foundation upon which future domestic doctrine will be shaped.
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