The Logistics Branch of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) is planning a number of national and local events throughout 2018 to mark the 50th anniversary of logistics and to foster unity and pride amongst a branch that supports the CAF in so many vital ways.
“It’s an opportunity for us to stop, because logisticians rarely stop, and acknowledge the fact that what we do is very important to the Canadian Armed Forces.
“The way I would put it is that each and every day logisticians are on operations because day in day and day out we are providing logistics support to the CAF, whether it’s operating a kitchen here in Canada or whether it’s issuing ammunition overseas for a plane that’s about to take off for a mission. So, it’s a chance for us to stop and acknowledge the tremendous support that we have and continue to give to the CAF,” said BGen. Virginia Tattersall, Chair for the National Planning Committee of the Logistics 50th anniversary.
The Logistics Branch is one of the most diverse branches in the CAF with members ranging from cooks to administrators. This anniversary, says Tattersall, is also an opportunity to unite the entire branch with pride.
The Logistics Branch existed as separate units and regiments in some form throughout the history of the CAF. The Canadian Army, for example, had the Royal Canadian Army Ordinance Corps, which dates back to the First World War, while the Royal Canadian Navy had the Royal Canadian Supply Services.
What logisticians are celebrating this year is the 50th anniversary of all of these units being brought under the banner of a unified Logistics Branch.
“So each service had their own various components that were providing logistics support and with the unification they were all amalgamated into the Logistics Branch,” explained Tattersall, a member of the Logistics Branch for more than 30 years.
To kickoff this year’s celebrations, an all-ranks mess dinner was held at the War Museum in Ottawa on Friday Feb. 2. This is the first time in a number of years an all-ranks mess dinner was held at this scale.
Throughout the year a number of national and regional events will be taking place.
“We have challenged them [regions] to organize events that are going to appeal to logisticians in their area to be able to mark 50 years and to foster that sense of unity and pride for what logisticians do,” commented Tattersall.
In October, an entire week will be dedicated to celebrating this historical milestone. The week will consist of events including a skill-at-arms with teams competing for the title of master logistician and a two-day professional development conference.
The week will cap off with a parade on Parliament Hill and the branch will receive its royal designation making it the Royal Canadian Logistics Service. The year’s events will then close off with a gala the following day.
Additionally, the Logistics Branch is working on a book to capture the oral history of logisticians, including their war stories.
“This is our attempt to capture some of those war stories for the Logistics Branch before they are lost,” said Tattersall.
Perhaps the highlight of this year for the Logistics Branch is the flag relay, brainchild of Chief Warrant Officer Paul Flowers.
While contemplating an extraordinary event to mark the branch’s 50 anniversary, Flowers realized the branch needed something to rally behind, something that touched every trade.
After receiving the green-light from the chain of command, Flowers began working on planning the flag relay early last year.
“The theme of the relay is to generate esprit de corps, inspire teamwork and create pride and unity within the Logistics Branch,” said Flowers.
To mark the significance of the anniversary and the flag, the flag was distinguished with a 50th-anniversary logo. It was also decided that the flag would travel with a ledger so every logistician coming in contact with it could leave their mark.
On July 1, 2017, a small send-off ceremony was held at Beechwood Cemetery with a number of currently serving and retired logisticians. The next day it was taken to CFB Trenton and then shipped off to Kuwait.
It has since travelled to a total of eleven countries OUTCAN, where logisticians serve, including Kuwait, Iraq, Germany, Belgium, the United Kingdom, Poland, Ukraine, Latvia, the Netherlands, Romania and two locations in the United States: Washington DC and Colorado Springs.
The flag has also made its way to the Arctic and will be travelling to Alert, Nunavut in March.
It will then make its way across Canada.
“The goal is to get the flag to as many locations that we can, OUTCAN, within Canada, wings, bases, reserve units, to give a wide range of logisticians a chance to sign the ledger, take a picture and put themselves in logistics history,” commented Flowers.
The flag will then return to Ottawa in October for the parade.
Over the last few months, Flowers has received a plethora of positive feedback from logisticians who have come in contact with the flag.
“It’s unbelievable. It’s been the highlight of my career,” said Flowers.
As the OPI on the flag relay, Flowers says at times the operation has been challenging and taken a lot of work to make a success, but for someone who has served with the Logistics Branch for decades, it’s certainly been the highlight of his career.
“To imagine that at this stage of the game being an OPI of such a huge event that affects so many people and see the pictures that will be logged in the history and just to know that nobody can ever take that away from you, it’s unbelievable,” said Flowers.