Republished from The Maple Leaf 1 December 2010
A CF team achieved the nearly impossible in October 2010 when it was sent on short notice to move operations from the theatre support element (TSE) in the Arabian Gulf to new strategic lines of communication detachments (SLOC Dets) in Europe.
The Camp Mirage mission closure team (CMMCT) was a Canadian Operational Support Command (CANOSCOM)- generated unit primarily drawn from the CF Joint Support Group (CFJSG) in Kingston, Ont.
Comprising about 60 soldiers and commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Ghislain Sauvé, the CMMCT quickly moved required CF assets from the TSE at Camp Mirage to SLOC Dets in Cyprus and Germany. The team also assisted in the transfer of equipment belonging to the tactical air unit to Kandahar Airfield. LCol Sauvé was impressed with how quickly the mission was completed. “The task at hand was very demanding, physically and emotionally, but they pulled it off brilliantly,” he said. “We planned as best we could, and adjusted and adapted throughout our time, to ensure the deadline was met. This departure had to be orderly, dignified and professional and, given how much notice we had, think this was accomplished, in spades.”
The lieutenant-colonel worked closely with the CO of the TSE to ensure a seamless transition of personnel and assets from Camp Mirage to established alternate locations.
While the CMMCT was coordinating the draw-down of services, the TSE was able to continue providing a high level of support to the Afghan mission, liaise with host nation officials to guarantee diplomatic clearances for movement, and conduct final inspections prior to departure.
The CMMCT was mandated to facilitate the movement of essential items such as rations, ammunition and protective gear to Afghanistan; the dismantling of infrastructure (such as sprung shelters); and the transfer or disposal of sea containers, information systems (such as television monitors and computers), amenities (such as refrigerators and fitness equipment) and other Canadian assets.
Material not required for mission sustainment was either appropriately disposed of or returned to Canada via strategic airlift or commercial sea container service.
TSE CO Lieutenant-Colonel Tom Dunne was highly impressed with the effort put into assuring such a quick closeout. “I’m fiercely proud of the people that worked with me here at Camp Mirage, and the teamwork that has gone in to the closure activities,” he said. “We’ve been asked to do ... a very difficult task to close down this camp, and everyone has pitched in from every section.”
All movement was completed within the given timeframe of less than a month, and wrapped up with the dismantling of a memorial dedicated to fallen soldiers and an emotional closing ceremony attended by CF and allied personnel.