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Last Updated: 05 June, 2016

PART ONE: BACKGROUND

1.0     Introduction

Canadian Joint Incident Response Unit, CJIRUThis article provides an overview of the recruitment, selection and training process for the Canadian Joint Incident Response Unit (CJIRU).

CJIRU is the CBRN response element of the Canadian Special Operations Forces Command (CANSOFCOM or CSOFC) Special Operations Forces (SOF) community, a “fourth service” (Horn, 2012, p.48) of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF).

The Canadian Joint Incident Response Unit (CJIRU) was established in September 2007 (Virgin, 2015). The CJIRU is headquartered in Canadian Forces Base Trenton, Ontario and is commanded by an OF-3/4 level officer.

Simplistically, the role of the CJIRU is to deal with weapons of mass destruction. Elaborating on this role, the CJIRU provides the Government of Canada with a CBRNE response (aka chemical, biological, radiological nuclear and explosive defence).

The CJIRU has three key mandates (Virgin, 2015):

  1. Domestically, the CJIRU supports the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and the Public Health Agency of Canada in response to CBRN incidents;
  2. Providing specialised CBRN support to CANSOFCOM forces both domestically and internationally; and
  3. Providing support to other CAF elements, including instruction, training, and education in any aspect of CBRN matters.

Internationally, the CJIRU is an integral component of CANSOFCOM providing a rapid response capability for SOF missions throughout the world.

Canadian Special Operations Forces CommandDomestically, the CJIRU is a branch of the CBRNE Response Team (in association with the RMCP and Public Health Agency of Canada) responsible for CBRN counter-terrorism operations. Additionally, they provide direct and indirect CBRN support to CANSOFCOM operations. Internationally, the CJIRU provides CBRN support to CAF elements in all theatres of operations.

The CJIRU accepts members of the CAF (both Regular and Reserve forces) in the role of operator or supporter, and is spearheading the development of the new CBRN Operator occupation as a trade within the CAF (around 2015-2016).

“For example, he likes to joke that the JTF2 commander introduces him at briefings by saying ‘if JTF2 needed to recruit from high schools, we’d go to the football team, but CJIRU goes to the chess club or Star Trek club.’ It may not be all that much of a joke, actually. Indeed, many if not most of the CJIRU operators are given college-level courses in the science behind CBRN…” (Day, 2009).

It must be emphasised that a candidate must be physically fit at the beginning of the CJIRU training process if they are to stand any chance of success. The training requires far greater expenditure of physical energy than is normally required in other peace time training. It is essential that candidates arrive fully fit and carrying no injuries.

1.1     Aim

The aim of this article is to describe the fundamental entry requirements, selection process and training for personnel seeking to become a member of the Canadian Joint Incident Response Unit.

1.2     Women and Canadian Special Operations

Applications for special operations is open to both men and women, “no military occupation is off-limits to women. Submarines were the last all-male bastion and that restriction was dropped in 2001. Combat is open to both genders.” (Campion-Smith, 2016).

“Although no women have qualified as Special Operations Assaulters, one woman (out five) who completed the assessment and selection process but was not selected, later qualified as a Category B, Special Operations Support Personnel, specifically as a coxswain.” (Knarr et al., 2014, p.84).

“In 2006 the first enlisted female completed assessment, selection and qualification course and became a badged operator [within the Canadian Special Operations Regiment].” (Knarr et al., 2014, p.84).

1.3     Brief History

The events of 9/11 led to the immediate CBRN response capability of the CAF being assigned to a new high readiness unit – the Joint Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Defence Company (JNBCD), part of the Joint Operations Group (Virgin, 2015).

This unit was assigned to CANSOFCOM on 01 February 2006 and was transitioned to become a specialised joint incident response unit focused on the CBRN threat.

The unit was officially given its new title the Canadian Joint Incident Response Unit – Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CJIRU-CBRN) in September 2007 (Virgin, 2015).

1.4     Tier 1 or Tier 2 Status

CJIRU is considered an enabler/support unit and consequently deemed a Tier 2 SOF unit.

Some units are sometimes referred to as a ‘Tier 1’ units because they are usually tasked with a direct action role. Other SOF units are referred to as ‘Tier 2’ units because they, usually, fulfil a supporting role for the Tier 1 units.

1.5     The Purpose and Roles of CJIRU

The CJIRU has three key mandates (Virgin, 2015):

  1. Domestically, the CJIRU supports the RCMP and the Public Health Agency of Canada in response to CBRN incidents;
  2. Providing specialised CBRN support to CANSOFCOM forces both domestically and internationally; and
  3. Providing support to other CAF elements, including instruction, training, and education in any aspect of CBRN matters.

Simplistically, the purpose of the CJIRU is to deal with weapons of mass destruction. Elaborating on this purpose, the CJIRU provides the Government of Canada with a CBRNE response which manifests through five roles (Day, 2013; Virgin, 2015):

  1. Sample and identify CBRN agents; simply confirming or denying the presence of these threats is paramount to the potential follow-on activities that may take place.
  2. Undertake CBRN surveillance; i.e. define the CBRN threat and determine the extent of the contamination.
  3. Perform decontamination and medical extraction (in a precise and limited role). The CJIRU would not perform large-scale decontamination of an area or population. Rather, they can support the immediate force conducting operations in the area. For example, small teams of operators from the CJIRU would accompany counterterrorist forces during a mission in order to provide CBRN protection to other members of SOF.
  4. Provide a CBRN incident command centre for the coordination and analysis all of information related to a specific attack or threat, including modelling and projecting weather effects. This command centre would be complementary to the command and control centres of other government departments.
  5. Perform CBRN explosive ordnance disposal; i.e. destroying or rendering safe an explosive chemical, biological, or radiological device.

The CJIRU is an integral component of CANSOFCOM, and provides a rapid response capability for SOF missions throughout the world.

Domestically, the CJIRU is a branch of the CBRN Response Team (in association with the RCMP and Public Health Agency of Canada) responsible for CBRNE counter-terrorism operations. Additionally, they provide direct and indirect CBRN support to CANSOFCOM operations. Internationally, the CJIRU provides CBRN support to CAF elements in all theatres of operations.

The CJIRU is divided into three troops (Day, 2009):

  • The Sampling and Identification of Biological, Radiological and Chemical Agents or SIBCRA Troop are usually the first operators into a potential hot zone. They scope the situation and get samples to bring back so that it can be identified.
  • The Surveillance Troop conduct typical surveillance tasks, but mainly they operate the remote control, sensor-laden vehicles that gather basic information about a potential hot zone.
  • The Decontamination Troop is geared towards getting personnel out of a hot zone safely using a multi-stage process of cleansing and inspection. The Decontamination Troop also has medical extraction teams to go in and stabilise the injured before putting them through the decontamination process.

Selected members of CJIRU are qualified to conduct certain types of operations with Joint Task Force Two (JTF 2), the counter-terrorism unit.

“The unit is not a first responder element, and it is also not a large-scale consequence management organization. It is, however, very well situated to provide niche capability to sample and identify agents and toxins, determine the extent of potential contamination, and provide integrated support to other departments and agencies, from municipal to federal, and it is a capability of the Canadian Armed Forces that is still evolving.” (Virgin, 2015).

1.6     CANSOFCOM Human Performance Programmes

The CANSOFCOM Human Performance (HP) Programmes section sits within Human Performance Research and Development, an element of the Directorate of Fitness (DFIT) (itself an element of Personnel Support Programmes (PSP), a division of the Canadian Forces Morale and Welfare Services (CFMWS)).

The HP Programmes conducts a variety tasks for CANSOFCOM which include:

  • HP Research;
  • Development of physical fitness selection and maintenance tests/standards;
  • Assessment centres;
  • Supporting physical fitness training programmes;
  • Other HP research as directed by the Commander CANSOFCOM.

The HP Programmes may utilise the CANSOFCOM Human Performance Research Team and the CANSOFCOM Human Performance Lab in order to realise these tasks.

PART TWO: ENTRY STANDARDS AND APPLICATIONS

2.0     Introduction

Information regarding the basic requirements for enlistment or commissioning in the CAF can be found by clicking on the link, which the reader is advised to read if not already familiar.

The CAF does not accept direct entry applicants, i.e. civilians with no prior military experience, for the CJIRU. As a result, volunteers for the CJIRU may be accepted from both CAF military personnel (both officer and enlisted) from any branch of military service to serve with the CJIRU.

Consequently, there are two recognised pathways to become a member of the CJIRU:

  1. Join as a CBRN Operator; or
  2. Join as a CBRN Supporter.

2.1     Recruiting Unit

Although the CJIRU is the recruiting unit, candidates must volunteer for service with the CJIRU through their chain of command using the current ‘Application Form for Service with CJIRU’.

2.2     General Requirements and Eligibility for All Candidates

Section 2.2 is not up to date as the CBRN pathway underwent some changes during 2015. However, it still provides a good insight.

Subject to the requirements outlined below, all CAF officers and enlisted (Regular and Reserve) personnel are eligible to attend the CJIRU assessment and selection programme.

General Requirements for all candidates:

  • Any Military Occupational Specialty (MOS):
    • However, the usual primary occupation providers for employment at the CJIRU include: Crewman; Infantry; Medical Technician; Medical Physician’s Assistant; Boatswain; LCIS Technician; NCI OP; Vehicle Technician; Fire Fighter; Support Technician; MSE OP; RMS Clerk; INT OP; Explosive Ordnance Technician (L); Armoured Infantry; Combat Engineer; PLT; AEC; Logistician (L); and Signals.
    • Officers: must be fully MOS ID qualified.
    • Enlisted: Must be qualified to a minimum of QL3.
  • Rank criteria:
    • Officers: Lieutenant/Sub Lieutenant to Captain/Lieutenant (Navy).
    • Enlisted: Private/Ordinary Seaman to Warrant Officer/Petty Officer Class One.
  • Medical Category:
    • Candidates must meet the minimum medical category for their MOS ID.
  • Fitness Standards:
    • Operators: Must pass Pre-Screening Physical Fitness Test (Section 3.2).
    • Supporters: Must have passed the standard Canadian Armed Forces FORCE fitness test.
  • Possess a valid driver’s licence.
  • Minimum two years’ military service for Regular forces.
  • Minimum three years’ military service for Reserve forces.
  • Obtain security clearance.
  • Obtain approval from chain of command.
  • Pass appropriate medical examination.

It should be noted that non-volunteer personnel (termed posted members) can be posted to the unit by career managers if sufficient volunteers (in supporter roles) do not apply.

PART THREE: OULTINE OF CJIRU SOAS SELECTION AND TRAINING

3.0     CJIRU Selection and Training Phases

Part Three is not up to date as the CBRN pathway underwent some changes during 2015. However, it still provides a good insight.

The journey to becoming a member of the CJIRU is not easy, and training is rigorous and highly selective, but the courage and strength individuals will gain as a candidate will stay with them for their entire life.

The CJIRU Programme is the selection and training process for all candidates wishing to join the Canadian SOF community.

In addition to Phase 1 (Basic Combat) Training, candidates must also have completed Phase 2 (Advanced Individualised) Training to be eligible for CJIRU selection and training.

All CJIRU candidates will undertake a number of distinct phases of training (Table 1), in which candidates are taught the fundamentals of CAF special warfare through formal CAF schooling and on-the-job training.

Table 1: CBRN training pipeline
Serial Sub-element/Course Duration
1 Meet eligibility criteria Variable
2 Pre-Screening Physical Fitness Test 2 days
3 CBRN Selection Process 3.5 days
4 CBRN Assessment Centre ?1 week
5 Special Operations CBRN Course 4 months

3.1     Training Hierarchy

Candidates undergo training delivered by the Canadian Special Operations Training Centre (CSOTC). The CSOTC is commanded by a Major (OF-3) and is located at the Canadian Forces Base Petawawa, Ontario.

3.2     Pre-Screening Physical Fitness Test

All components of the Pre-Screening Physical Fitness Test (PFT) are administered by appropriately qualified Personnel Support Programmes (PSP) Fitness and Sports Instructors (Section 1.5). The results of a candidate’s Pre-Screening PFT test are valid up to a maximum of 6 months.

It was announced in 2015 that CANSOFCOM would be introducing a Pre-Screening PFT for CBRN Operators (Couturier, 2015a), which had been introduced by January 2016 (Couturier, 2016).

Table 2 provides an outline of the Pre-Screening PFT for CBRN Operator candidates.

Table 2: PFT for CBRN Operators
Day Event Description
1 20 Metre Shuttle Minimum of Level 9 (non-stop): equates to a predicted VO2peak of 47.6 ml/kg−1min−1)
Press-ups 40 or more (non-stop)
Sit-ups 40 or more in a time limit of one minute
Heaves 5 or more (non-stop)
Combat Swim Test 25 metre swim in combats, boots, rifle and no flotation (no time limit)
2 Loaded March 13 kilometres carrying 35 kg in 2 hours 26 minutes (and 20 seconds) or less
Casualty Drag
  • A straight-line route of 25 metres on even grassed ground should be chosen in order to prevent unnecessary injury.
  • The test requirement is to evacuate a simulated casualty of similar weight, but weighing no less than 70kg (1541bs) a distance of 25 metres.
  • Each candidate will wear helmet and webbing/tac vest.
  • The candidate performing the drag will carry their own and the casualty’s weapon.
Source: Couturier, 2015b

3.3     CJIRU Selection Process

The CSOR Selection Process is divided into two phases:

  • Phase 1: In Phase I of the selection process, Canadian Forces members of the regular and reserve forces apply for service with a SO Unit and receive approval for their application from their current Unit’s Commanding Officer.
  • Phase 2: Candidates will complete a PFT, medical evaluation, aptitude testing and a structured interview with a Personnel Selection Officer. Candidate’s files are then forwarded to the respective Unit to which they are applying for service.

At this point, Unit review boards are held, and candidates who meet the minimum threshold for service with that specific Unit are then invited to attend the CSOR Assessment Process, at the appropriately named Assessment Centre.

3.4     CJIRU Assessment Centre

The CJIRU Assessment Centre (AC), also known as the Assessment Phase (AP) and CBRN Operator AC, is a structured assessment process designed to measure performance while placing candidates under physical and mental stress in order to determine their suitability to undertake the Special Operations Basic Qualification course and ultimately be employed as a CBRN Operator.

With this in mind, candidates undergo a rigorous selection process designed to assess a number of critical attributes that have been linked to task performance on the job. Extremely high levels of physical fitness and personal motivation are crucial for the successful completion of the CJIRU Assessment Centre. Therefore, the physical demands placed on candidates during the selection process reflect the actual job and training demands, and permits candidates performances to be observed in controlled conditions and environments.

During the assessment process, candidates may decide that the job, as previewed during the assessment process, is not right for them, and thereby voluntarily withdraw (VW). In the same vain, the Unit may decide that a candidate, based on multiple assessments during the assessment process, is not suitable for further training.

From this perspective, assessment centres are not only a cost-effective approach to selection as personnel are screened-out prior to expensive training, but they also ensure that the right person is put into the right job, at the right time.

Upon completion of the CJIRU Assessment Centre, a selection board is held to determine which candidates that have completed the assessment process will be invited to attend further training on the Special Operations CBRN Course. Successful completion of the CJIRU Assessment Centre does not guarantee selection.

“From the statistical analysis, the key predictors of AC completion were VO2peak (βexp: 7.91; CI: 1.6-38.7), 1-repetition maximum squats (βexp: 6.11; CI: 1.5-24.9) and number of continuous pull-ups (βexp: 3.59; CI: 1.0-12.7), thus further highlighting the importance of aerobic capacity, lower and upper body muscular strength.” (Carlson & Jaenen, 2011, p.212).

3.5     Special Operations CBRN Course

The Special Operations CBRN Course (SOCBRN) is approximately 4 months in duration.

3.6     Special Operations Support Orientation Course

Upon arrival at CJIRU, all new (non-Operator) members undergo the Special Operations Support Orientation course. This course prepares support personnel for their duties as a member of CJIRU and ensures a heightened level of deployment readiness.

PART FOUR: MISCELLANEOUS

4.0     Summary

The Canadian Joint Incident Response Unit training pipeline is open to all male and female officers and enlisted personnel of the Canadian Armed Forces, subject to certain criteria. CJIRU training seeks to attract determined, highly-motivated, intelligent, reliable and physically fit individuals to serve with the Canadian Joint Incident Response Unit. This article provides the basic information to allow individuals to make an informed judgement before applying for the Canadian Joint Incident Response Unit.

4.1     Useful Books, Documents and Magazines

  • CJIRU Pre-Selection Physical Fitness Training Programme:
    • First Edition: to be published late 2015 or early 2016.
  • The FORCE (Fitness for Operational Requirements of CAF Employment) Programme Operations Manual. 1st Ed. 01 April 2014.
  • Canadian Forces EXPRES Operations Manual. 5th Ed. July 2012.
  • Horn, B. & Balasevicius, T. (eds) (2007) Casting Light on the Shadows: Canadian Perspectives on Special Operations Forces. Kingston, Ontario: The Dundurn Group and Canadian Defence Academy Press.
  • Spencer, E. (2009) (ed) The Difficult War: Perspectives on Insurgency and Special Operations Forces. Kingston, Ontario: The Dundurn Group and Canadian Defence Academy Press.
  • Spencer, E. (ed) (2012) Special Operations Forces: Building Global Partnerships. Kingston, Ontario: The Dundurn Group and Canadian Defence Academy Press.
  • Rouleau, M. (2012) Between Faith and Reality: A Pragmatic Sociological Examination of Canadian Special Operations Forces Command’s Future Prospects. Kingston, Ontario: Canadian Defence Academy Press.
  • Crabbe, R.R., Mason, L.G. & Sutherland, F.R. (2007) A Report on the Validation of the Transformed Canadian Forces Command Structure. Ottawa, Ontario: Report Prepared for the Chief of the Defence Staff, 31 January 2007.
  • Day, M. & Horn, B. (2010) Canadian Special Operations Command: The Maturation of a National Capability. Canadian Military Journal. 10(4), pp.00-00. Available from World Wide Web: http://www.journal.forces.gc.ca/vol10/no4/12-day%20horn-eng.asp. [Accessed: 20 April, 2016].
  • Day, S.J. (2013) 9/11 and Canadian Special Operations Forces: How ’40 Selected Men’ Indelibly Influenced the Future of the Force. Available from World Wide Web: www.dtic.mil/cgi-bin/GetTRDoc?AD=ADA583821. [Accessed: 17 April, 2016].
  • Horn, B. (2012) “We Will Find a Way”: Understanding the Legacy of Canadian Special Operations Forces. JSOU Report 12-2. February 2012. Available from World Wide Web: http://jsou.socom.mil/JSOU%20Publications/12-2_Horn_CanadianSOF(Feb12)_final.PDF. [Accessed: 17 April, 2016].

4.2     Useful Links

  • Canadian Special Operations Forces: http://www.forces.gc.ca/en/operations-special-forces/index.page
  • Joint Task Force 2 (JTF 2): www.forces.gc.ca/en/operations-special-forces/jtf2.page
  • Canadian Joint Incident Response Unit (CJIRU): www.forces.gc.ca/en/operations-special-forces/cjiru.page

4.3     References

Campion-Smith, B. (2016) Looking for a Few Good Women – Canada’s Military goes on a Hiring Spree. Available from World Wide Web: http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2016/03/14/looking-for-a-few-good-women-canadas-military-goes-on-a-hiring-spree.html. [Accessed: 20 April, 2016].

Couturier, D. (2015a) SOA, SF Operator and CBRN Operator Pre-Selection Physical Fitness Test Program: Professional Development. Available from World Wide Web: https://www.cfmws.com/en/AboutUs/PSP/DFIT/Fitness/Correspondence/Documents/CANSOFCOM/SOA,%20SF%20OPERATOR%20AND%20CBRN%20OPERATOR%20PRE-SELECTION%20PHYSICAL%20FITNESS%20TRAINING%20PROGRAM.pdf. [Accessed: 05 May, 2016].

Couturier, D. (2015b) Amendment – CSOR Pre-Screening Physical Fitness Test – Operations Manual – Amendments. Available from World Wide Web: https://www.cfmws.com/en/AboutUs/PSP/DFIT/Fitness/Pages/Canadian-Special-Operations-Regiment-(CSOR).aspx. [Accessed: 21 April, 2016].

Couturier, D. (2016) Requirement for CANSOFCOM Pre-Selection Physical Fitness Training Programs. Available from World Wide: https://www.cfmws.com/en/AboutUs/PSP/DFIT/Fitness/Pages/Canadian-Special-Operations-Regiment-(CSOR).aspx. [Accessed: 05 May, 2016].

Day, A. (2009) The Dragon Hunters. Available from World Wide Web: https://legionmagazine.com/en/2009/09/the-dragon-hunters/. [Accessed: 05 May, 2016].

Horn, B. (2012) “We Will Find a Way”: Understanding the Legacy of Canadian Special Operations Forces. JSOU Report 12-2. February 2012. Available from World Wide Web: http://jsou.socom.mil/JSOU%20Publications/12-2_Horn_CanadianSOF(Feb12)_final.PDF. [Accessed: 17 April, 2016].

Knarr, W., Turnley, J.G., Stewart, D.J., Rubright, R. & Quirin, J. (2014) Special Operations Forces Mixed-Gender Elite Teams (SOFMET): Examining Socio-Cultural Dynamics of SOFMET. Joint Special Operations University, Centre for Special Operations Studies and Research. Available from World Wide Web: http://www.defense.gov/Portals/1/Documents/wisr-studies/SOCOM%20-%20JSOU%20Study%20on%20Special%20Operations%20Forces%20Mixed-Gender%20Elite%20Team3.pdf. [Accessed: 20 April, 2016].

Virgin, S.A. (2015) Capt(N) S.A. Virgin (Deputy Commander, Canadian Special Operations Forces Command, Department of National Defence) at the National Defence Committee. Available from World Wide Web: https://openparliament.ca/committees/national-defence/41-2/53/capt-1/only/. [Accessed: 17 April, 2016].

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