Naval Security Team deploys to Fiji
By Peter Mallett
Canada’s Naval Security Team (NST) has commenced a five-week deployment to provide force protection for Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Vancouver on its port visit to Fiji.
The deployment is part of Operation PROJECTION, the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) operation to conduct training, exercises and engagements with foreign navies and other international security partners.
The NST provides naval reservists opportunities for real-world, expeditionary operations around the world. Their primary activities will be supporting the security needs of Vancouver and its crew, at sea and on land, by providing protection from threats with the Republic of Fiji Navy at controlled access points, according to Lieutenant (Navy) Kay van Akker, NST Executive Officer.
“The mandate of the NST is mission dependent based on identified security needs of Canadian warships going into foreign ports,” said Lt(N) van Akker. “We work across multiple units and branches of the CAF to achieve this goal.”
Prior to its deployment, the NST completed five weeks of training in Victoria. The group is comprised of six full-time reservists based in Esquimalt, B.C., with the remaining 65 made up of naval reservists representing 18 Naval Reserve Divisions across Canada.
The CAF already has boots on the ground in Fiji, with a CAF advance party of 15 navy logisticians and army engineers who set up accommodations for the NST, including construction of a large tent city to house Canadian personnel in the capital city Suva.
A C17 Globemaster military transport plane was also loaded up with the team’s equipment, including its tactical operations centre and two Defender Class protection vessels.
Along with providing force protection, the NST will participate in a bilateral military exercise with Vancouver and members of the Republic of Fiji Navy as part of the CAF’s Building Partner Capacity initiative.
Lt(N) van Akker says the deployment will also involve discussions and collaboration with Fiji’s navy on techniques and tactics for naval and deployed force protection.
Lt(N) van Akker and other members of the team are also serving as consultants and mentors to the Republic of Fiji Navy regarding gender integration, especially relevant now as the first 12 women were enrolled into their navy in February.
Lt(N) van Akker was part of a 12-member team, eight male and four female, that made an initial trip to Fiji in August 2017 to conduct force generation training with the Republic of Fiji Navy. At that time she conducted workshops geared to open discussions about gender in operational military forces that included advice and discussions about Canada’s female integration into its military.
“We have also entered into conversations with them about their integration process [for women] along with any concerns and uncertainties. I will be looking forward to see how the integration has been progressing.”
Article courtesy of Lookout.
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