Army, Navy Reservists team up to fight COVID-19

Article / March 25, 2021 / Project number: 21-0008

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By Joint Task Force Central Public Affairs

Toronto, Ontario — Reservists from both the Canadian Army (CA) and Royal Canadian Navy have come together to assist with the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines in Northwestern Ontario.

The group, all residents of the region who have volunteered to transition from part-time to full-time service, has been dubbed Task Force (TF) LAKEHEAD. They are under the command of Joint Task Force Central (JTFC), one of six Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) task forces located in key locations across the country.

“Establishing this task force is truly a joint effort,” said Lieutenant Commander Nathanael Moulson, Commander of TF LAKEHEAD. “The members involved come from five different units spread across two cities overseeing an operating area of over 180,000 square kilometres.”

“The task was further complicated by our inability to meet face-to-face given COVID-19,” he added. “We have had to be creative to build unit cohesion and test our ability to function as a team.”

Army and Naval Reserve units in Ontario’s north-west (from Thunder Bay to Kenora) are normally under the command of the Army’s 3rd Canadian Division and the Naval Reserve, but become part of JTFC when supporting domestic operations.

TF LAKEHEAD is composed of members from HMCS Griffon and four units from 38 Canadian Brigade Group: 116 Independent Field Battery, 38 Signal Regiment, The Lake Superior Scottish Regiment, and 38 Service Battalion.

While TF LAKEHEAD is currently composed of 33 members, its size changes according to operational needs and has been as large as 75.

TF LAKEHEAD also includes local Canadian Ranger patrols who are assisting Ontario’s northern First Nation Communities.

In the farther reaches of Ontario’s north, First Nation communities have remained vigilant. Despite these efforts, however, some have faced COVID-19 outbreaks. As the number of cases continued to rise, the 3rd Canadian Ranger Patrol Group (3 CRPG) has assisted their communities with delivery of food, supplies, transportation, and public awareness programs.

Canadian Rangers are at the forefront, working in support of Ontario’s air ambulance and critical care transport services, which are responsible for delivering vaccine doses to the remote Nishnawbe Aski Nation.

TF LAKEHEAD takes some of the pressure off the Ranger teams by providing ground transportation and sustainment support including food, water, laundry, and banking. Having controlled movement and limited person-to-person contact outside of the team bubble reduces the spread, thus ensuring that Canadian Rangers are COVID-19-free before travelling to the communities.

“My experience working with Task Force LAKEHEAD has been nothing short of amazing,” said Captain Jason Dech, Regional Liaison Officer with 3 CRPG. “It is always great to work with a team of dedicated professionals who are operationally focused.” 

“As members of the CAF, we embrace the opportunity to travel to far off places to help,” added LCdr Moulson, “but with TF LAKEHEAD we get to apply our skills in our own backyard - helping our neighbours, friends, family and fellow citizens of Northwestern Ontario.”  

##MCECOPY##Canadian Army
##MCECOPY##Task Force
##MCECOPY##Joint Task Force Central
##MCECOPY##Canadian Armed Forces
##MCECOPY##3rd Canadian Ranger Patrol Group
##MCECOPY##Lieutenant Commander
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