‘Together we’re strong’: Canada takes a leading role in NATO exercise

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Article / November 12, 2015 / Project number: 15-0199

Santa Margarida, Spain — The Canadian Army (CA) has played a significant role in the largest NATO exercise in more than a decade by providing expertise and core personnel for the Multinational Brigade Headquarters at its heart.

Exercise TRIDENT JUNCTURE 2015, which took place from October 21 to November 6 in Spain, Italy and Portugal, is NATO’s largest exercise in more than a decade, bringing together 36,000 troops from more than 30 countries in the simulated defence of an allied nation under threat. More than 1,600 Canadian troops took part, mainly in the cities of Santa Margarida, Spain and Tancos, Portugal.

The Brigade Headquarters was generated from the Headquarters and Signals Squadron of the 5th Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group (5 CMBG), based in Valcartier, Quebec.

Led by Colonel Michel-Henri St-Louis, 5 CMBG is the CA’s high-readiness brigade. That, explained 5 CMBG Public Affairs Officer Captain Mathieu Dufour, made it a natural choice for TRIDENT JUNCTURE.

The Army’s contributions also included infantry from the 2nd and 3rd Battalions of the Royal 22e Régiment, who worked alongside a Portuguese light infantry company. The 3rd Battalion joined the exercise from Poland, where Canada is participating in Operation REASSURANCE , a NATO-led initiative in response to Russian aggression in Central and Eastern Europe.

Operational training and logistical support for the exercise were provided by 72 personnel from 5 Service Battalion, which is also based at 2nd Canadian Division Support Base Valcartier.

A battalion of bridging engineers from Germany, 10 Portuguese tanks, and amphibious infantry from Italy were also part of the multinational brigade,” said Capt Dufour.

One of the goals of NATO and Canada is to show and share our operability so we can work together,” he added. “It shows that we can adapt and together we’re strong.

Other Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) personnel began preparations for TRIDENT JUNCTURE at the start of 2015 with an exercise of their own, called JOINTEX 15. It demonstrated CAF capabilities in operating a Multinational Joint Integrated Task Force Headquarters and in the planning and conduct of coalition operations in a joint, inter-agency, multinational and public environment.

The primary objectives of JOINTEX 15 were to:

  • Practice, evaluate and improve the capacity and ability to command and conduct joint, combined and integrated forces in complex operations;
  • Practice, evaluate and further develop national contingency plans;
  • Advance, integrate and evaluate force development and joint force capability enhancements; and
  • Develop, document and institutionalize the CAF Distributed Training and Simulation Capability.

JOINTEX got underway in January, 2015 with a month-long table-top exercise held in Kingston, Ontario. This was followed in September and October by a command-post exercise in Meaford, Ontario that was synchronized with the NATO Joint Warfare Center in Stavanger, Norway.

This is the first of three articles on Canada’s involvement in Exercise TRIDENT JUNCTURE. The others will take a look at overcoming the communications challenges and at how Canadian combat engineers built bridges both literal and symbolic.

By Steven Fouchard, Army Public Affairs

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