41 CBG IA Coy Area Assessments Training in Grande Prairie

Article / August 11, 2016

By: Captain Webly Thumwood, 41 CBG

The Canadian military has always had a strong and proud tradition of helping people in distress, particularly those at home.  Whether it is helping the people of Quebec deal with an ice storm, helping the people of Winnipeg with the Red River Flood, helping people of the Okanogan fight fires, or more recently assisting Southern Albertans with the 2013 flood, the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) has always provided aid to civil authorities when asked to do so. In these situations, success can hinge on the ability of the CAF to communicate and integrate with local officials.

The 41 Canadian Brigade Group Influence Activities Company (IA Coy) was proud to make its first foray into this ongoing tradition between January 8th and 10th 2016 in Grande Prairie, Alberta to gather the data necessary to complete a Civil-Military (CIMIC) Area Assessment of the city and its environs. Participating IA Coy members were broken down into small teams and each tasked with gathering relevant data and information from first-hand sources pertaining to key information categories.

The teams successfully met and held discussions with several key players in the emergency preparedness landscape including the head of the Grande Prairie Regional Emergency Partnership, the Grande Prairie City Manager, members of the local RCMP Detachment, and members of the local news team, among others. These individuals would be indispensable in the event of an emergency in which the military was called to assist, and establishing these initial connections would likely improve the speed and effectiveness of a military response to a request for aid. Indeed, through the teams’ liaison, some were even invited to participate in future mock emergency response exercises. While this decision rested well above the paygrade of those in attendance, the positive impression was much appreciated!

Following the gathering of first-hand information (primary information gathering) on the ground in Grande Prairie, the team then had the daunting task of sifting through the data and producing information relevant to a Commander and in a format that could be easily understood. To meet this end, the IA Coy conducted training in Victoria, BC. As CIMIC personnel with deployment experience can attest to, the circumstances are not always as ideal as those presented in Victoria for analyzing and reporting on obtained data.  However, the warm ocean breeze gave a welcome change to the members of the IA Coy to tackle what for many was their first Area Assessment Report. The first priority was compiling the data obtained by the different teams.  Following this, work could begin on the finalized report, which was well-received by personnel up to the divisional level within the CAF.

The final test came as the team was given a hypothetical disaster scenario in the Grande Prairie region, and leveraging the information compiled, provided an oral briefing to a hypothetical Commander who may potentially face deployment to aid a civil power. This provided the teams with the opportunity to practice their public speaking skills, as well as provided insight into the value of diverse experiential backgrounds amongst CIMIC teams. With an eye to current events, this training can be seen as invaluable, and the teams’ aim to leverage the learnings of these exercises moving forward.

By: Captain Webly Thumwood, 41 CBG

Date modified: