General Vance Issues Last Weekly Letter – for now

The Chief of the Defence Staff, General Jonathan Vance, at the announcement in Ottawa, Ontario, November 22, 2016. Photo: Cpl Mark Schombs, Canadian Forces Combat Camera.

Noting the end of May is here, the Chief of the Defence Staff General Jonathan Vance began his letter mentioning Canadian Armed Forces community members have been following pubic health advice. Hence the community has stayed “relatively well protected.” 

This week’s letter touched on the “deeply disturbing observations” in Long Term Care Facilities (LTCF), the search and recovery of the CH-148 Cyclone helicopter, callsign Stalker 22, that went down in the Ionian Ocean, the release of CANFORGENs, and resumption of operations and training. 

Regarding Op Laser, the General recognized the report released this week. The report, OP Laser – JTFC Observations in Long Term Care Facilities in Ontario by 4th Canadian Divison Commander Brigadier General Conrad Mialkowski revealed upsetting circumstances in LTCF that CAF personnel observed at five LTCF in Ontario. The report hit the headlines across the country this week.

“The troops and their leaders at all levels have performed superbly during this difficult operation,” stated Vance, continuing, “They not only stabilized the situation at the outset, addressing the problems as they came upon them, but reported up the chain of command and across to responsible officials in the respective LTCF and provincial governments, so as to meet legal and moral reporting standards. 

“I have had many people reach out to tell me how proud they are of the CAF. I want to pass those thanks to you, and on behalf of all of us in the CAF and DND, you have made us very proud of your dedication and professionalism throughout this deployment.”

In consultation with the Minister of Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC), he also announced that the Minister of Defence had designated the tasks as Special Duty Operations (SDO).

“Identifying the tasks as SDO ensures that CAF members have the timeliest access to disability and pension programs. Today, and from when the operation started, you are covered by the SDO/Special Duty Area regulations, which have a direct relationship to VAC compensation and benefits. It includes all training directly related to the deployment, during mission leave, and until you are returned to your home unit.”

Search & Recovery Stalker 22

Concerning the search and recovery of Stalker 22, Vance noted the EDT Hercules had begun scanning the Ionian Sea’s depths this week with USN Remotely Operated Vehicle (REMORA III) approximately 220 nautical miles east of Catania, Sicily. 

“The vehicle has located a piece of the fuselage and next of kin have been informed that remains have also been found in the vicinity of the helicopter wreckage. Search and recovery efforts will continue and you will be kept updated on progress as will the families of the Fallen.”

The mission’s lead is CAF personnel Cdr Rod Watt, working with US Navy. 

Vance thanked the United States Navy Office of the Supervisor of Salvage and the Captain and crew of the EDT Hercules.

“The attention and care they have demonstrated on this mission to recover our fallen is praiseworthy. To LCdr Michael Beautyman (USN), Assistant for Salvage, U.S. Navy Supervisor of Salvage and Diving, Mr. Evan Tanner, team lead for the Phoenix International Group, Mr. Marcin Fulek, Captain of the EDT Hercules and crew a grateful nation thanks you for this noble endeavour,” he stated. 


This week the CAF released two CANFORGENS: 


Vance noted in regards to CANFORGEN 071/20, “The aim is to protect 2020 promotion lists, to the greatest extent possible, while operating under a COVID-19 environment.”

Concerning CANFORGEN 072/20, the CDS stated, “If you are posted this APS, you need to read this CANFORGEN and work with your chain of command to support the planning of your move. I know that this is a stressful time for you and your families. Please be assured that your chain of command is there to support you.”

Resumption of Operations & Training

Regarding the resumption of operations and training General Vance noted the Deputy Minister of National Defence, Jody Thomas, and himself had hosted a town hall on May 27, 2020. 

“The main takeaway for all of us is that we will get back to our routine of force generation and operational readiness in a deliberate way that accounts for the many changes and restrictions we will have to manage carefully while the pandemic persists. Over the coming days and weeks you can expect Warning Orders and Orders from your chain of command with the details you need.”

For more information, visit the Directive on Business Resumption here.

He closed his letter stating that this would be his last. 

“Given that my commanders must now get on with detailed planning and execution of operations, training and administration – and the important communications to you that will take place, this will be my last CDS Weekly letter to you for now. 

“Should a situation arise where direct communications are helpful I will write again. Until then, I know that 2020 has presented many challenges to you all. Your professionalism and dedication to service is inspiring. My confidence in Defence and in the Canadian Armed Forces has never been higher.”

Closing the letter with the message “Stay Frosty!” 

Read the letter below.

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