Canadian Forces to open support hub in Germany

Defence Minister Peter MacKay has announced that a new operational support hub for the Canadian Forces will be set up in Germany.

Operational hub assists in quick response around world

Defence Minister Peter MacKay and his German counterpart, Thomas de Maiziere, met recently at a NATO meeting in early February in Brussels and on Tuesday, they made an announcement in Ottawa about a new Canadian Forces base in Germany. (Virginia Mayo/Associated Press)

The Canadian Forces are setting up a new operational support hub in Germany in anticipation of future missions abroad, Defence Minister Peter MacKay announced Tuesday.

MacKay made the announcement with Germany's Defence Minister Thomas de Maizière at a brief news conference in Ottawa.

MacKay said the recent experience of using a small logistical hub at an American airbase in Spangdahlem, Germany, to support Canada's mission in Afghanistan has "driven home the value of maintaining operational support hubs abroad in anticipation of future mission requirements."

The defence minister said the Canadian Forces must be "flexible, able to respond at a moment's notice and get halfway around the world sometimes at very short notice."

Canada has spent the last few months exploring ways to ensure that flexibility, MacKay said, and has been negotiating to set up a network of operational hubs in key locations.

The new Canadian base in Germany will be at Cologne Bonn airport and is the first of these hubs to be announced. It will serve as an operational base for the European region.

The Department of National Defence is estimating that it will cost approximately $500,000 per year to operate the new hub, but it didn't immediately have an estimate for the startup cost.

Discussions are still underway between Germany and Canada on when the hub will be up and running.

Under normal operation, the bases will only have a small number of personnel and facilities, according to MacKay.

"However, the benefit to Canada will be huge as the hubs will have the capacity to ramp up operations quickly should the need arise in response to those crises," he said, having cited Libya and Haiti as examples of where the Canadian Forces have played a role.