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CAF Personnel Exemplified “spirit of unity” during Operation LENTUS

For over four months, more than 2,100 Canadian Armed Forces personnel assisted with forest fires in six provinces and territories.

Known as Operation LENTUS, the Canadian Armed Forces’ response to natural disasters in Canada spanned 131 consecutive days in 2023.

Members of Task Force Jamésie-Abitibi-Témiscamingue fight Level 3 fires at Saint-Lambert, in the Abitibi region of Quebec, as part of Operation LENTUS 23-03 on 15 June 2023. Photo by: Sergeant Vincent Lafond, 35 Canadian Brigade Group, Canadian Armed Forces.

Expressed Appreciation

In a message to Canadian Armed Forces personnel dated Oct. 20, 2023, the Chief of the Defence Staff General Wayne Eyre and Canadian Armed Forces Chief Warrant Officer CWO Bob McCann expressed their appreciation to CAF personnel that deployed on Operation Lentus this year.

“We want to express our profound appreciation for the exceptional work you have done in response to this year’s unprecedented forest fire season. Your unwavering dedication to our mission and the well-being of those in distress embodies the true essence of service and resilience,” stated General Eyre and Chief Warrant Officer McCann.

Members of the Canadian Armed Forces Air Task Force carry patients from the hospital onboard a CC-177 Globemaster III aircraft from 429 Transport Squadron as they prepare to transport patients during the evacuations from Yellowknife, NWT as part of Operation LENTUS on 18 August 2023. Photo by: Lt(N) Alex Roy, Canadian Armed Forces Photo.

On May 10, the Province of Alberta requested the Department of National Defence (DND) and the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) support as the province managed its wildfire situation.

This year, Operation LENTUS ran for 131 consecutive days, with 2,135 personnel deployed in various roles. CAF personnel fought wildfires in Alberta, Nova Scotia, Quebec, British Columbia, and Northwest Territories and provided evacuation support to communities in Ontario, Quebec and Northwest Territories.

“Your ability to seamlessly collaborate with different levels of government and various organizations involved in fighting forest fires exemplifies the spirit of unity that defines us as a nation. Together, we demonstrated that when Canadians need us the most, we stand together as one, committed to safeguarding our great nation and its people,” read the statement.

Members from Joint Task Force Atlantic’s Immediate Response Unit conduct Type 3 Wildland firefighting under Operation LENTUS 23-02 in Shelburne County, Nova Scotia, on 10 June 2023. Photo by: Corporal Brian Watters, 5th Canadian Division Public Affairs, Canadian Armed Forces Photo.

Protecting Canadians at Home

The message noted, despite the challenges CAF personnel demonstrated during the operation in its various forms in different provinces and territories, that “protecting Canadians here at home is our main effort” and the military members’ “unwavering support to communities affected by forest fires across Canada was nothing short of remarkable.”

Operation Lentus wrapped up in B.C. on Sept. 15th when the CAF support for the Request for Assistance with the province ended.

Canadian Armed Forces Chief Warrant Officer CWO Bob McCann and Chief of the Defence Staff General Wayne Eyre.

“Whether you were on the front lines, providing logistical support, or working tirelessly behind the scenes, each one of you played a vital role in keeping Canadians safe. Your dedication has not gone unnoticed. Your tireless efforts and unwavering dedication brought solace and relief to those who were most vulnerable. Your work was not just commendable; it served as a source of inspiration amidst challenging circumstances.”

As the CAF moves forward, the message noted the lessons during Operation Lentus are remembered, and the organization remains ready to fulfill its mission.

Members of the 3rd Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, participate in fire prevention operations in Grande Prairie, Alberta in support of Operation LENTUS 23-01 on May 11, 2023. Photo By: MCpl Cass Moon, Canadian Armed Forces.

“Deepest Gratitude”

“Together, we will face whatever challenges the future may bring, with the same unwavering commitment and dedication that you have demonstrated during this operation,” the statement noted.

In closing, the General and Chief Warrant Officer expressed their “deepest gratitude to each and every one of you. You are the embodiment of what it means to be a Canadian Armed Forces member, and we are honored to lead such an exceptional team. As the world becomes more dangerous, Canadians will continue, increasingly so, to call upon your service. Thank you for what you do.”

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