Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Medicine Hat as Kandahar?/Major exercise for Afstan at CFB Suffield

Wherever, as long as the training is good:
Medicine Hat, Alta., to stand in as Kandahar for Canadian troops in training

Canada's sunniest city, Medicine Hat, will stand in this spring for dusty, dangerous Kandahar as a new battle group of troops trains for duty in Afghanistan.

The community of 61,000 is going to allow more than 800 soldiers to practise convoys and patrols on its streets as well as how to respond to simulated roadside bomb explosions.

Some troops will act as Taliban insurgents as the units get experience on what it is like to operate in a busy urban setting, Col. Andre Corbould, commander of 1 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group, said Tuesday.

"We are going to make it as realistic as we possibly can," Corbould said. "We want to have them respond to incidents within the city like they will do in Afghanistan."

Most of the troops involved in the training will be serving with the Provincial Reconstruction Team based in Kandahar City.

Columns of LAV IIIs and other armoured vehicles will weave their way through Medicine Hat traffic starting later this month and into May, he said.

Troops will practise setting up security cordons. There will also be medical evacuations of simulated injured soldiers and civilians. Some of the troops will also practise setting up make shift classrooms and delivering other humanitarian aid.

Soldiers will also learn what it is like to perform their different tasks under the eyes of the public. The streets of Kandahar City are often filled with bustling crowds.

Canadian troops heading to Afghanistan have conducted similar training on isolated bases and in other communities before, but on a smaller scale.

Medicine Hat Mayor Norm Boucher said he is happy to allow the soldiers to use the city as a training ground.

Boucher, a former RCMP officer who served on peacekeeping missions in Bosnia and Kosovo, said he likes the idea of people in the city seeing first-hand the military doing the jobs they will perform in Kandahar.

"We owe it to them to ask, 'what do you do?'," he said. "I think it is about time that citizens see exactly how the military contributes. Where does the money go? We are going to see part of that here."

The troops that will train in Medicine Hat are part of a larger force of more than 3,000 soldiers who are taking part in live-fire exercises at nearby Canadian Forces Base Suffield.

The battle group that is to leave for Afghanistan in September includes infantry, armour, combat engineers and medics from Edmonton as well as an artillery unit from Shilo, Man., and reconnaissance troops from Petawawa, Ont.
About that exercise, from Land Force Western Area:

Large Scale Military Exercise Begins At CFB Suffield

CFB Suffield - 4,500 soldiers from across Canada, backed by approximately 3,000 tons of military hardware and electronic equipment, has arrived at CFB Suffield on April 6, 2009 to begin a six-week long exercise in preparation for deployment to Afghanistan this fall.

“This is a true representation of what we mean by brigade-sized exercise,” said Col. Andre Corbould, Commander of 1 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group (1 CMBG).

LFWA soldiers train on LAV III

Beginning April 6, Exercises Desert Ram, Western Defender and Total Ram will play out in full measure as the Army begins the arduous preparation to prove its soldiers and systems ready to deploy.

The first four weeks will see soldiers of the Regular Force under exercise name Desert Ram engage in complex but realistic training which will include convoy movement, road cordons, and search operations.

Reserve Force soldiers operating under Exercise Western Defender will begin similar scenarios as their regular counterparts but separately beginning April 21st.

Both regular and reserve troops will then merge in Exercise Total Ram for three days, May 5th to 8th and “fight” as one force under one command. Some aspects of this phase of the training will happen within the city of Medicine Hat, Alta [emphasis added].

The CF operates a total force concept for all its domestic and combat operations worldwide and ensures members of the Reserve are trained to the same standards as their Regular Force before deployments. Exercise Total Ram is when the blending of the forces begins in earnest.

The focus in Suffield, apart from ensuring a unified fighting force, are the many firsts this time around: “The shear size and scope of events planned for Suffield this year is a first,” said Col. Corbould. "We are deliberately introducing live ammunition earlier and to a greater degree. We have incorporated fixed wing aircraft, including CF-18 fighter-bombers. Other fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft may also be introduced to complement the multi-role Griffon helicopters [emphasis added]."

These exercises represent the largest military exercise in Western Canada this year [emphasis added]. It also marks the first large scale training exercise at CFB Suffield in five years for the Canadian Forces.

Preparation for Exercises
In preparation for this large scale exercise, individual units within LFWA have also been involved in smaller exercises doing work up training:

Unit Exercises


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Medicine Hat should be happy it is not standing in for Now Zad . . .

1:38 p.m., April 15, 2009  
Blogger holdfast said...

Better than Wainwright I suppose.

I still remember getting the "Ram" on numerous occasions with 6 FES and 1 CER. Western Challenge and Cougar Salvo also not being such great memories.

4:22 p.m., April 15, 2009  

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