“They are ready”, Canada’s largest military exercise in the face of war in Europe

For 12 days, nearly 2,800 Canadian, British and American soldiers train non-stop on a 625 km field.2larger than the island of Montreal (472 km2).

Armored vehicles, helicopters, trenches: everything is real during these missions which alternate attack and defense tactics, except the ammunition of the weapons which are replaced by lasers as in a life-size laser tag game.

We simulate an invasion to which we, the allies, must reactexplains Colonel Éric Landry, commander of the 2and Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group.

It has cameras, sensors and GPS on the soldiers to be able to replay all the battle that takes place in the field, learn from our mistakes and improve..

This exercise is essential for the troops, according to Colonel Patrick Robichaud, Commanding Officer of the Canadian Maneuver Training Centre.

Working with allied troops, understanding how they work together reassures the troops and establishes a relationship of trust between the different elements of the Canadian and international forces.he explains this Thursday morning.

When they are called for missions outside the country, they already have this confidence to be able to operate together.

Colonel Patrick Robichaud at the Wainwright military base in Alberta on May 12, 2022.

Colonel Patrick Robichaud is Commanding Officer of the Canadian Maneuver Training Centre.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Axel Tardieu

Scenario resembling Latvia

This life-size training takes place in a particular geopolitical context. Canada has sent weapons to Ukraine, invaded by Russia, and soldiers to Poland for a humanitarian mission.

The current exercise feels even more real for the soldiers due to the current context in Europe, according to General Wayne Eyre, Chief of the Defense Staff. They are ready. The world is dangerous and we must be ready to leave tonight, if necessaryhe adds.

A soldier wears a helmet on which is placed equipment allowing him to blend into his environment.

The soldiers are mainly Canadian, British and American. Two are from Australia and one from France.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Axel Tardieu

Currently, we have 3,400 members of the Canadian Armed Forces on standbyrecalls the Minister of Defense, Anita Anand, present at the Wainwright military base.

Soldiers present in Wainwright will also soon be deployed in Latvia to reinforce NATO’s presence there.

To finalize their training, the military exercise reproduces conditions resembling those of Latvia, a NATO country neighboring Russia. The maps used by the troops have the names of real Latvian towns and roads.

A camouflaged tank among trees.

The military exercise is done in real conditions. Weapon ammunition is replaced with harmless lasers.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Axel Tardieu

The exercise today is an invasion from the East towards the Baltic countries which is basically inspired by the current conflict in Europespecifies the Minister of Defense who recalled that Ottawa granted an additional 500 million dollars in military aid intended for Ukraine in its 2022 budget.

What priority for Canada?

Do the Canadian Armed Forces have the means to match their ambitions? Not as much as before, according to Pierre St-Cyr, a retired Canadian Armed Forces colonel.

Over time, the Canadian Forces experienced a decline in their equipment. We couldn’t get the right equipment at the right time.

Now we have a big grocery list just to keep us going as a military force and after that there is going to be another list considering the threats identified.he explains.

Faced with recruitment difficulties and aging equipment, experts say that Ottawa must decide what is the priority for its next investments.

To this, Defense Minister Anita Anand responded on Thursday morning: There is no scenario where the defense of the North American continent is not the priority. We always make sure the Arctic is well protected.


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