Article / April 5, 2016
By: Captain Mark Ruban, Op REASSURANCE, Public Affairs Officer
In February 2016, a new contingent of Canadian soldiers landed in Europe as part of the Operation REASSURANCE Land Task Force (LTF). Since then, they have participated in a series of rewarding training activities alongside their partners from Poland and other NATO states.
Members of the new rotation, known as Roto 5, are primarily from 1st Battalion, Royal 22e Régiment (1 R22eR). A parade was held to mark the beginning of their bilateral training with the Polish 25th Air Cavalry Brigade at the airfield of the Drawsko Pomorskie Training Area, Poland, on February 29, 2016.
The Canadian troops are mostly mechanized infanteers, so they do not often have the opportunity to work with soldiers and helicopters from an air cavalry unit. During their training with Polish partners, they learned fast-rope techniques, as well as the principles of air-supported insertions and extractions.
“Working with the Polish forces and their helicopters not only enables us to operate together and share our knowledge—it’s also a chance to expand our tactical abilities,” said Captain Mike Cefaloni, a 1 R22eR Platoon Commander assigned to the LTF. “During this exchange, the Poles were impressed with our decentralized planning methods, while we were able to learn from their air-mobile drills.”
Interoperability activities also included demonstrations on firing ranges. Urban-combat training provided an opportunity to conduct joint assaults on targets and learn additional manoeuvres and room-clearing techniques. Each new situation was an opportunity to strengthen the partnership between the troops from different countries.
“Working with the Polish Army gives us a chance to test our communication skills as we learn new concepts and procedures, and teach them as well,” said Corporal Curtis Drakes, a reservist from The Royal Montreal Regiment. “During urban-operations training, there was a good level of cohesion since both Canadian and Polish soldiers were willing to learn about each other’s methods as we went along.”
|Drawsko Pomorskie Training Area, Poland. 15 March 2016 – A Canadian soldier and a Polish soldier fire a C6 machine gun at the Drawsko Pomorskie Training Area in Poland during Operation REASSURANCE. (Photo: Master Corporal Andrew Davis, Operation REASSURANCE Land Task Force Imagery Technician)|
The LTF also includes a detachment of artillerymen from 5e Régiment d’artillerie légère du Canada. In March, these members taught their Polish counterparts Canadian call-for-fire standards, and in turn learned Polish artillery drills. Moreover, the Canadian artillerymen completed a firing mission during which they were able to further their skills.
“The Polish operate differently than we do and they have their own procedures, but our coordination allows us to nevertheless work together,” said Captain Marc Grenier, Forward Observation Officer. “Thanks to the Poles, we participated in firing a multi-launch rocket system, a very impressive weapon that we do not have back in Canada.”
The exchange of knowledge and best practices continued in Estonia, where LTF members participated in Exercise SNIPER DYNASTY. During the exercise, snipers shared knowledge with counterparts from other NATO countries and practiced concealment and firing techniques.
Throughout all of these exercises, the logistics support personnel have played a large role in the success of the mission. The LTF support personnel got straight to work upon their arrival in Poland, providing tactical support to training and exercises. They coordinated the operational and strategic logistical requirements with the host-nation, the Operational Support Hub (Europe), and Canada.
Op REASSURANCE represents Canada’s contribution to NATO assurance measures in Central and Eastern Europe. The LTF conducts joint training activities with NATO allies to enhance interoperability, helping to ensure that the Alliance is ready to respond to challenges that may arise. During the rest of their deployment, the members of Roto 5 will participate in a series of military exercises in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Romania.