Members of Canada’s Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) transfer a simulated casualty during Exercise READY RENAISSANCE on March 6, 2016. DART member Lieutenant Josh Adamczyk says the exercise, and being part of the DART, is a big change from his work as an artillery officer. (Photo by Master Corporal Darcy Lefebvre, Canadian Forces Combat Camera. ©2016 DND/MDN Canada)
Commander Michael Lewis of Canada’s Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) briefs military representatives from China and Mexico during Exercise READY RENAISSANCE. Lieutenant Josh Adamczyk, currently on a DART rotation, says he is ready to deploy at short notice should the need arise. (©2016 DND/MDN Canada)
Artillery officer on standby with Canada’s Disaster Assistance Response Team
By Bryan Mackay
Posted on Thursday, August 25, 2016
Currently on standby to deploy on just 48 hours’ notice with Canada’s Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART), Lieutenant Josh Adamczyk has a lot more than just Artillery training to work on.
Lt Adamczyk grew up in a military family in Kingston, a military town. His father is a Lieutenant-Colonel with 1st Canadian Division. Two of his uncles are also currently serving in the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF). As a child, he was always interested in his father’s work. The sense of community that he saw there drew him to the service.
“I could see that they were a very tight-knit group, and that was always an attractive thing about the forces for me,” he said. At age 16, he joined the Army Reserve’s 772 Electronic Warfare Regiment (now 21 Electronic Warfare Regiment), based in Kingston, Ontario.
Six months into his Reserve service, it was recommended to him that he apply to the Royal Military College in Kingston, Ontario. He did so, graduating with a major in Psychology and a minor in Computer Science. Not only was his tuition paid by the CAF in return for service, he also received a salary to cover living expenses.
While he started out in the Signals trade, just like his brother and father before him, he decided to change over to Artillery. “I got a little more interested in the Combat Arms aspect of the military, so when I switched to Psychology, some of the career choices were Artillery and Infantry and Armoured. And I decided that I’d put Artillery first, because it’s a very technical trade that mixes itself up with tactical aspects.”
Lt Adamczyk is now an artillery officer at Garrison Petawawa. He is part of the 2nd Regiment, Royal Canadian Horse Artillery (2 RCHA), which is in charge of the DART’s Defence and Security Platoon. The DART’s 1st Canadian Division Headquarters is located in Kingston, a three hour drive from Petawawa. “Our job, mainly, is to control the battle space and manage all the personnel that will come along with the DART mission,” he explained.
The DART was created following the Rwandan Genocide in 1994, when a cholera outbreak occurred within refugee camps. In response, Operation PASSAGE was initiated and 2 Field Ambulance from Petawawa was deployed. Unfortunately, they were not deployed quickly enough and missed the peak of the outbreak. Learning from the experience, the federal government created the DART as a means to more promptly mobilize, when requested, to foreign nations afflicted by natural disasters. Its first formal deployment was Operation CENTRAL in Honduras in late 1998, when the aftermath of Hurricane Mitch caused flooding and water-borne disease to spread at an alarming rate.
DART membership is rotational rather than being a permanent assignment. For the recent deployment to Nepal, for instance, 2 RCHA’s Echo Battery was sent to assist the Canadian effort. Delta Battery, to which Lt Adamczyk belongs, has been on call to deploy if necessary since September 2015 and will remain so until September 2016.
Before deploying, members of the DART receive a detailed briefing on the destination country, so they can properly adhere to cultural expectations. This includes how people talk to each other, how they will interact with soldiers from another country and how that country’s military will respond to Canada’s presence. Until they are deployed, standby members need to make sure they are up to date on their soldiering skills, their weapons capabilities and their immunizations.
Every year, each member of the DART takes part in a two-week long exercise called READY RENAISSANCE that serves as a simulation to prepare for deployment. This year, Exercise READY RENAISSANCE took place from February 29 to March 10 at Sandbanks Provincial Park, located in Ontario’s Prince Edward County.
Set in the fictional country of Limeria, the exercise saw the DART set up a makeshift area of operations following a 7.82-magnitude earthquake to ensure that the affected nation could receive the necessary care and support.
This year, military personnel from China and Mexico observed the simulation to learn more about deploying to foreign countries for disaster response. “It’s a sheer change from what we’re used to as Artillery Officers and soldiers,” Lt Adamczyk said of his experience. “We simply deployed and our job was to liaise with the other elements that were in our area of operations. It was a challenge to ensure that everyone had some defensive security personnel with them.”
Making matters more difficult was the limited space available for vehicles. Aircraft in particular can be difficult to make room for, and even then the nature of the disaster will often impede landings. “It could be upwards of two weeks before we see another shipment of supplies,” Lt Adamczyk noted. “That’s something we actually did experience on the exercise too.”
When a disaster occurs, members of DART like Lt Adamcyzk are on 48 hours’ notice to deploy; however, the Canadian Government only deploys DART when it receives a formal request for help from the nation in crisis. Senior leaders have eight to 12 hours’ notice and make up the DART’s Humanitarian Assistance Reconnaissance Team (HART). The HART is crucial to providing the assembling team with communication and updates on the situation as it unfolds.
The DART serves three critical needs in these emergencies: water purification, primary medical care and engineering help. It is equipped to conduct emergency relief operations for up to approximately 40 days to bridge the gap until national and international aid agencies can provide long-term help.
Lt Adamczyk hopes that no major natural disaster strikes and devastates a country anytime soon; nonetheless, he is honoured to be part of the DART’s operations and is trained and prepared to deploy if need be.