Saturday, March 14, 2015

CFIOG Commander testifies to SCND

Colonel Steven Moritsugu, who replaced Col. F.J. Allen as Commander of the Canadian Forces Information Operations Group (CFIOG) last year, testified before the Standing Committee on National Defence on February 18th. The committee is studying the "Defence of North America", and Col. Moritsugu's mission was to explain the role of CFS Alert and the CFIOG more generally.

Among his other comments, Moritsugu talked briefly about the support Alert and other signals intelligence stations provide to NORAD:
Our main reason for having the station there would be the defence of Canada, the defence of the homeland, and the defence of North America.

Our primary sharing is with NORAD. From my perspective, we figure out what's going on. We produce that intelligence. How our national command might then decide to share that or any other source of intelligence with somebody else, because we have a common problem we're dealing with, on a case-by-case basis, is echelons above me. Here's the information into the hopper, and somebody else decides whether my information or some other bit of information needs to be shared with somebody other than the people we regularly share with, and that is ourselves and NORAD.
Ever wonder how NORAD interceptors so often manage to meet those Russian bomber training flights before they even enter NORAD radar coverage? Now you know.

Moritsugu also described the HF direction-finding role of the stations at Alert, Masset, and Gander, and reported that the direction-finding system was involved in five search and rescue events in 2014:
Other services or the joint rescue coordination centre would call upon us when they know there's a ship or an airplane out there that somebody has lost contact with and has reported as potentially being lost. Our role then is to locate their radio signal and attempt to triangulate it so that we have an idea of where they are. Sometimes, because of the fact that we have very good radio receivers, it's possible for us to hear signals that other people cannot hear. For example, a normal base station or airport has lost contact with some airplane or some ship. They're still talking, but nobody is hearing them. They ask us to listen, and when we turn and look in that direction it is often possible to pick up signals and determine that they're actually not lost, that they're just out of communications.

In 2014, for example, there were only five instances where we were asked to do so. In three of them there was no actual emergency, but we were able to determine that this person was talking, but they weren't answering because they couldn't hear them. We could hear them, and it wasn't an emergency. On two of them, we did help to locate that the person was declaring an emergency, and we were able to say “they're about here”, which makes it easier for search and rescue to go find them.
Interestingly, Moritsugu did not include Leitrim in the list of stations participating in HFDF operations. Does this mean the Pusher array at Leitrim is no longer operational? Or is it just that the Leitrim array was never equipped for netted operations with the others?

He also reported that CFIOG currently has about 900 people. That's the same size as the CFIOG establishment in 2005, although back then the organization was reportedly not at full strength.

The full transcript of Moritsugu's testimony can be read here.

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