National Post - April 26, 2012
By Lt-Gen. André Deschamps
Re: Courage Without Capacity Won't Cut It, Colin Kenny, April 23.
I would like to clarify a few points following the third CH-146 Griffon helicopter recently established at 5 Wing Goose Bay.
First, Defence Minister Peter MacKay was clear that the primary role of 444 Combat Support Squadron is to provide utility helicopter airlift and personnel recovery in support of military air operations at 5 Wing Goose Bay.
Second, the third helicopter sent to Goose Bay will provide greater operational flexibility by increasing the potential of having serviceable aircraft to support operations and training. It will also increase the availability of aircraft with which to support the squadron's secondary roles, which include support to Search and Rescue missions.
Third, while 444 Combat Support Squadron was originally established with three Griffon helicopters in 1995, the squadron's resources have been reassigned since 2005 to support other missions, including Canada's missions in Afghanistan and Haiti. Air Force resources are carefully managed and may be moved from one unit to another depending on where the military requirement is greatest.
It is important that Canadians understand the difference between primary and secondary roles of all CF aircrafts, including the Griffon helicopters at 5 Wing Goose Bay. The return of a third Griffon helicopter to Goose Bay is certainly good news, but should not be seen as a new allocation of dedicated Search and Rescue assets in that region.
Lieutenant-General André Deschamps, Commander, Royal Canadian Air Force, Ottawa.