Canada’s military sees no “greater threat” to Canadians than the coronavirus pandemic and is mobilizing up to 24,000 troops to do whatever is needed.
As the toll of COVID-19 climbs unabated across Canada, the forces is rallying under the new mantra of Gen. Jonathan Vance, Canada’s Chief of the Defence Staff: “Stay fit to fight.”
On Monday, Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan outlined some of the Canadian Armed Forces’ plans for the pandemic and the mobilization order for up to 24,000 regular and reserve armed forces members to be ready for domestic needs.
This includes 10 “immediate reaction units” within the army to respond to local requests for assistance, such as providing humanitarian support, wellness checks and natural disaster response. The navy is prepared to assist coastal communities.
Fifty patrols of the Canadian Rangers, Canada’s largely aboriginal reserve force, has been activated to full-time readiness for assistance primarily in the Arctic and northern regions.
“When Canada needs their armed forces, they are always there,” Sajjan said. “During these unprecedented times, those who wear the uniform will be there for Canadians when called upon.
“We will provide local commanders the authority to be flexible in our assistance to ensure that local needs are met quickly.”
So far, the military has not received any “formal request for assistance,” Sajjan said Monday. On Friday, the military said there had been “no requests” for assistance, suggesting some discussions of the need for military assistance may be underway.
The military says the pandemic’s threat to the nation is real and significant.
“The Canadian Armed Forces does not see any greater threat to ourselves or Canadians than what has been described by health authorities,” Department of National Defence spokesman Daniel Le Bouthillier told National Post on Friday.