JTFA Public Affairs team supports Op NANOOK
By 2Lt Michelle Noseworthy,
37 CBG HQ
There is no better place to see the Army, Navy, and Air Force working together like a well-oiled machine than in the Public Affairs hub of Operation NANOOK 2017 in Goose Bay, Labrador. Maj Amber Bineau, Senior Public Affairs Officer for JTFA, and her detachment know how to get things done. “We’re not just a team, we’re a family,” says Lt(N) Linda Coleman from MARLANT. “Together,” she says, “we successfully captured dynamic imagery and informed Canadians about the importance of Op NANOOK, and more importantly the CAF members that made it happen.”
From hosting executives and VIPs, daily briefings to higher headquarters, gathering still and video imagery, producing videos and social media posts, and coordinating embedded media, the Public Affairs team put in long days during the operation. The whole team learned to change plans and adapt quickly as inclement weather limited air support and affected troop movement, demonstrating the real life challenges of operating in the North. Despite rain and blackflies, image technicians, Cpl Anthony Laviolette, LS Brad Upshall, and Mona Ghiz climbed to the top of the air traffic control tower, deployed with the troops in the field, and climbed aboard aircraft to capture the perfect shot, then returned at the end of the day for hours of editing and uploading before they slept. Image technicians, LS Dan Bard in HMCS Montreal and Cpl Tony Chand in HMCS Goose Bay also provided imagery support from their ships, highlighting naval support during Op NANOOK.
Deploying to the communities of Natuashish, Nain, Voisey’s Bay and Saglek in northern Labrador provided the CAF an opportunity to celebrate the contributions that First Nations, Inuit, and Metis have made to Canada, and to continue refining ongoing work with communities and their leaders to increase awareness of the CAF and its importance. “My favourite part of the operation,” says Capt Sylvain Rousseau of 12 Wing Shearwater, “was interacting with the people from the communities of Labrador and hearing their stories.” Lt Matt Howse, also part of the public affairs team, showed his commitment to community interaction by participating in a 13.5 km canoe race with the people of Goose Bay.
The public affairs mission is to inform Canadians about their CAF, and despite the communications challenges in the remote and austere parts of the sub-Arctic, they were able to do so in real time. “It’s a challenge in itself to deploy with the army in the field, but doing this with sensitive camera equipment in the rain or dust with a job to do increases the challenge,” says imagery technician LS Upshall, who was forward deployed with the Arctic Response Company Group in Voisey’s Bay and Saglek. With no internet access, no place to set up, and only spotty satellite signal, getting the images out of the field seemed almost impossible, but with help from the Company Headquarters, he was able to transmit through the Ground to Air Transmitter Receiver (GATR), which enabled the Public Affairs team in Goose Bay to release imagery on social media within 24 hours instead of having to wait for the snail-mail option—using resupply flights to send still imagery back to Goose Bay Headquarters on memory sticks.
Social media experts Lt(N) Coleman, and Mona Ghiz pushed out over 110 photos, 60 tweets, and six videos during Op NANOOK, reaching thousands of Canadians. Four articles and seven hometowners were written, highlighting the personal stories of some of the deployed members, and what they have contributed to the operation.
It takes a lot of planning and coordination and solid relationships with the other branch/staff heads and components to make things happen, but as Maj Bineau states, “when the chain of command supports the human and equipment resources requirement needed to achieve the intended public affairs effect, the result is what the Joint Task Force Atlantic public affairs team was able to produce – rapid imagery and social media turn-around from air, land and sea operations in addition to traditional media coverage.”
Throughout Op NANOOK, the public affairs team used each other’s strengths, and cultivated their abilities with unique learning opportunities as a Joint Task Force and successfully communicated the importance of Northern operations to Canadians from coast to coast to coast.