The Second World War was over and the Canadian armed forces were being reduced rapidly. The first chilly blasts of the Cold War had not yet penetrated to the consciousness of most Canadians. What role could the forces play in the postwar world? The most obvious answer was to revert to those interwar operations that had most directly benefited the nation—aerial surveys, northern communications, limited engineering projects. New tasks had evolved; aerial search and rescue was an example.

The Canadian government was aware that it had neglected the north during the war; the American presence in the Alaska Highway, CANOL, and aerial delivery routes via the Arctic had been more prominent than that of the nominal owners of the region. This was continuing even into the postwar period; early in 1946 the USS Midway was cruising in the Labrador Sea and Davis Strait areas, experiencing Arctic flying conditions and noting the effects of sub-zero temperatures on carrier-borne aircraft. “Musk Ox,” publicly described as a test of military equipment and capabilities in the north, was a gesture to reassert Canadian sovereignty “north of 60.”