WATCH: The minister of national defence was in Alberta Thursday as thousands of troops prepare for a possible mission in Europe. It's part of an annual exercise that has increased importance with the war in Ukraine. Breanna Karstens-Smith reports.
More than 3,000 Canadian Armed Forces personnel are currently taking part in the Canadian Army’s largest and most complex annual training exercise.
Approximately 3,200 personnel are taking part in Exercise Maple Resolve 22 in Wainwright, Alta. The exercise ensures soldiers are prepared to deploy in support of Canadians in any capacity, including combat operations. It also enhances their combat readiness.
This year, soldiers are going through the Date Europe scenario, which centres on a deteriorating security situation in Eastern Europe. According to the CAF, it theoretically proposes a situation where the Baltic States are invaded from the east by a fictional force and NATO is required to respond.
“That is fundamentally drawn from the current conflict in Europe, of course,” said Minister of National Defence Anita Anand, who was in Wainwright Thursday to meet with those taking part in the exercise. “But the reality is that our Canadian Armed Forces need to be prepared for any eventuality.
“My impression is that this is a highly organized and highly planned exercise. What I have seen today has been remarkable in terms of the level of planning that goes into a very complex exercise like this.”
Most of the soldiers taking part in Exercise Maple Resolve 22 are from 2 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group (2 CMBG) based in Petawawa, Ont. It also includes soldiers from the United States and the United Kingdom.
Civilian actors are also taking part, helping the troops lay out what could be very real situations.
Col. Eric Landry, commander of 2 CMBG, said this large-scale exercise is part of training they’ve been doing all year.
“The scenario is essentially: there was a ceasefire, we were at the border of a NATO country and there’s an invasion we have to react to,” Landry explained. “It’s very, very, very realistic.
“It makes it real for the troops. The troops are ready, they’re ready to go, they are excited about what they do, they love what they do.”
Chief of the defence staff Gen. Wayne Eyre said this type of training underpins their readiness to be able to conduct operations around the world.
“They know this is real, they know what they’re preparing for could come to fruition,” Eyre said.
“This group here, over the course of the summer, will become the nucleus of our NATO response force.”
The Royal Canadian Air Force is providing an Air Task Force to support the training operations. This includes six CH-146 Griffon helicopters and about 300 personnel. A CP-140 Aurora is also participating in the exercise, along with a detachment of five UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters from the Oregon Army National Guard.
This year, Exercise Maple Resolve is also part of a wider spring training regimen for 2 CMBG, which includes Exercise Intrepid Bear. Also held in Wainwright, that training exercise will also serve as live-fire training.
The CAF said this year’s exercise is not a complete return to the size it was before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, but it’s a sizeable increase over last year’s training.
Wainwright is located about 200 kilometres southeast of Edmonton.
— with files from Breanna Karstens-Smith, Global News.
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