Op REASSURANCE: the Canadian National Support Element within NATO
by Lieutenant Ben Zuo,
NSE Operations Duty Officer
The Canadian National Support Element (NSE) is a unit under Task Force Latvia (TFL), within the larger scope of OP REASSURANCE. Commanded by LCol Kieran Kennedy along with Chief Warrant Officer Patrick White, the unit is roughly 100 personnel strong augmented with roughly 50 TAV personnel, consisting of Headquarters (HQ); Garrison Services Company with functional Transport/CMTT, Supply/LPO, and Kitchen sections; Health Services (HSS) Company; Engineer Services (ESS) Company; and functional Military Police (MP), National Rear Link (NRL), and Personnel Support Programs (PSP) sections. The unit consists of both Regular and Primary Reserve force personnel from various home units across Canada, although currently predominantly from Garrison Petawawa.
The NSE provides essential second and third line support to the enhanced Forward Presence Battlegroup (eFP BG) as well a range of garrison services that require liaison with the Host Nation (HN) Latvia. The eFP BG consists of Canadian-lead Head Quarters, Canadian Mechanized Infantry Company (Dukes Company) and Canadian-led Multi-National (MN) Combat Support (CS) Company; consisting of Canadian Recce Platoon, Canadian Electronic Warfare Platoon, Albanian EOD Platoon and Slovenian Recce Platoon. The remaining sub-units consist of three mechanized infantry companies (Italian – Aquile Coy, Spanish – Pelayo Combat Team and Slovakian – Stefanik Coy), Polish Armoured Squadron (Hussars), Spanish Engineer Squadron (Sappers), Canadian-led Artillery Squadron incorporating the Czech Republic Mortar Troop, and the Canadian-led MN Combat Service Support (CSS) Coy.
The Sending Nations (SN) have deployed NSEs which consist of the A-Echelon elements which are detached to the sub-units during operations and exercise. As the framework nation (FN), the Canadian NSE is the focal point for SN NSEs from Spain, Italy, Poland, Slovenia and Slovakia for institutional and second line support. Furthermore, limited service support is provided to Albania and the Czech Republic which have deployed without an integral NSE element. The Canadian NSE serves as the sole point of contact between the SNs and the HN, bringing SNs in line with a single set of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) in order to control and ensure critical requests and requirements are fulfilled in a timely manner. Common requirements for HN support include base infrastructure, provision of general goods, transportation, feeding on garrison and deployed, storage facilities for many classes of supply, base refueling and local contracting capacity. Each of these requirements is supported by the sub-units and sections within the NSE.
As the largest sub-unit within the NSE, Garrison Services Company consists of Supply, Transport, and Food sections, as well as specialised Ammo, Traffic and Postal functions.
The Supply Section supports second and third line BG stores requirements as well as all garrison functions and helps to restock SNs when required. Additionally, the framework has been established for a CQ in order to separate the functions of integral support to the NSE and support to the BG and SNs.
Transport Section is one of the most commonly leveraged sections within the NSE as they support the movement of NSE personnel and equipment as well as SN equipment and refueling for all of the eFP. Its dispatch and drivers work a rigorous schedule to ensure that all tasks are successfully and safely accomplished.
The Postal Section, deployed as CFPO 5004, provides full postal support to entire eFP as well as postal advice to the CoC. They enable personnel to send and receive mail with Canada and the Postmaster ensures all mail, such as care packages, received in theatre is accounted for and distributed properly.
The KO and his staff run the on-base dining facility, feeding roughly 1500 eFP soldiers and all HN personnel posted to Camp Adazi with delicious and healthy meals. The cooks work long, 12 hour shifts, 6 days a week, in order to achieve this feat; on top of regular feeding they also support official functions, BBQs and meals for exercises.
HSS Coy provides routine Role 1+ care to approximately 1500 deployed soldiers with a Role 1 deployable facility to support forward operations. They also develop medical plans in support of exercises to ensure effective employment of all MN medical resources within the battle space.
ESS Coy takes care of engineering projects and sustainment issues on a day-to-day basis that span the gamut of combat engineer functions from infrastructure project management to the construction of targets for range practice. Having a dedicated ESS sub-unit allows for tasks to be completed efficiently without drawing on external personnel or financial resources.
The Signals Troop runs the NRL and provides communication links between Camp Adazi and Ottawa. The NRL team is comprised of Information System Techs (ISTs), and Computer System Techs (CSTs). In addition to a 24/7 Service Desk, NRL provides services such as repair of NRL equipment and maintenance of open and secure networks for CAN BG and NSE with plans to incorporate support to TFL HQ in the near future.
The Canadian MP team helps to run the Military Police Coordination Center in partnership with the HN and provides professional policing and security services to the eFP in Camp Adazi. Working alongside SN MPs, they ensure all soldiers strictly adhere to policies and regulations while representing their nations. The MPs also support the Battle Group by ensuring safe road moves, professional handling of prisoners of war and that NATO assets are secured in accordance with a high physical security standard.
A number of civilian personnel are also deployed under PSP. They operate the gym and retail store, provide services such as the barber and travel office, and coordinate activities such as fitness, sports & recreation, and weekend excursions. In order to support all of these functions, PSP utilizes and manages the Non-Public Funds.
On the public finance side, the NSE Finance section supports the Canadian contingent in all financial matters such as TD, R&R, MTECs, etc. They also manage the accounts payable for goods and services on camp and training exercises, accounts receivable for the SNs, and the overall Canadian mission budget of approximately 20 million CAD.
Under HQ, the Orderly Room team consists of seven HRAs that provide support to both the BG and NSE chains of command and complete crucial administration for all soldiers in the areas of pay, claims, leave, and mission specific logistical management. The Operations cell consists of three officers and one Senior NCO. Under extremely challenging conditions due to the operational tempo, this team effectively resolves a myriad of logistical requests from Canadian elements and SNs, ensuring resolutions are consistently achieved. During major exercises, the Ops team manages the Logistic Coordination Centre alongside SN duty officers to provide critical support to BG operations.
All Canadian NSE personnel work tirelessly to provide the support required to maintain maximum operating capacity of the eFP BG and always conduct their business to the highest professional standard all while reinforcing Canada’s reputation as a well organized Framework Nation for the NATO eFP mission in Latvia.