ARCHIVED - OP REASSURANCE: Standing With Our Allies

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Article / July 16, 2014

Overall, Operation REASSURANCE Roto 0 was very successful, we were able to deploy in a matter of days, conduct a parachute insertion half-way across the globe, and sustain valuable training with our Allies for over two months. It certainly has been one of the highlights of my career and I couldn't be more proud of the conduct and professionalism displayed by my paratroopers. I know that the incoming Company from 3 RCR will be able to build upon the foundation we have established with our Allies and continue to represent Canada and the Canadian Army very well.”  - Maj James Thamer, Task Force Commander

In late April, NATO requested the rapid deployment of airborne assets in Central and Eastern Europe to provide stability and security in an environment of escalating threats. In response, approximately 120 members from 3rd Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry (3 PPCLI), B Company deployed to Poland on Operation REASSURANCE, to conduct airborne and infantry exercises alongside our Allies.

Specifically, during Roto 0 of Op REASSURANCE, 3 PPCLI conducted multiple training exercises including but not limited to:

  • Ex ORZEL ALERT (5-9 MAY), Ex SABER STRIKE ( 9-21 JUNE),
  • Ex PEGASUS KORSARZ (23-27 JUNE), 
  • Ex GNIEZNO (2-6 JULY)

These all required 3 PPCLI to demonstrate their professionalism, interoperability, and flexibility while enhancing and building cohesion with our NATO partners.

Ex ORZEL ALERT

The first exercise conducted during the Operation, Ex ORZEL ALERT, was a joint parachute insertion into the Bledowska desert region of Poland followed by a second phase consisting of field and infantry training in Zagan, Poland from May 5th-9th. The exercise was designed to further develop and enhance collective capabilities and included approximately 70 soldiers from the United States' 1st Squadron 91st Airborne Cavalry Regiment (1-91 CAV) based out of Germany, 120 soldiers from the Polish 6th Airborne Battalion based out of Krakow, and 34 paratroopers from 4 Platoon, B Company, 3 PPCLI from Edmonton, AB.

 “The jump was impressive because it displayed the interoperability between NATO members,”  said Canadian Task Force Commander and Officer Commanding B Company, 3 PPCLI, Major James Thamer.  “Throughout the exercise we improved our functionality together, and shared and learned some best practices... it was extremely rewarding training,”  he continued.

The infantry training portion, conducted in Zagan, Poland, was under the direction of the Polish Army from the 6th Airborne Battalion. There, the troops conducted: section attacks, foreign weapons proficiency drills, and various ranges. They also participated in a friendly military skills competition that tested their strength, speed, and abilities.

 “The aim of the training was to establish international teams that could work together to conduct tactical training in order to learn how to cooperate in completing tasks.”  said LCol Robert Kruz, Commander of 6th Airborne Battalion. “The tri-lateral exercise was significant because it allowed us to practice like we fight; working together enabled us to develop our partnerships further while strengthening our collective defensive capabilities.” 

Ex SABER STRIKE

Following the initial training conducted in Poland, 6 Platoon, B Company, 3 PPCLI deployed to Latvia to conduct Ex SABER STRIKE from June 9th -21st.  Ex SABER STRIKE is a long standing U.S. Army Europe-led cooperative exercise that focused on promoting interoperability and operational capability. The exercise included over 2,000 participants from ten different countries including Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Canada, Finland, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Norway, Poland and the United States. The multi-lateral and multifaceted exercise allowed participants from each country to gain practical experience in organizing, controlling, and supporting coalitions operations.

6 Platoon was tasked with different tactical missions during the exercise that saw countries split into teams representing EAST vs. WEST, who then engaged in force on force battle training wearing Multiple Integrated Laser Engagement System (MILES) gear. 6 Platoon's first task was to link up with their UK, Norwegian, and US counterparts and move to disrupt an enemy reserve in their main defensive area. Mid-way through the exercise, 6 Platoon reversed roles and became part of the counter attack. Their main objective was then to ally with the Estonian's and conduct an attack on the US in a dismounted against mechanized fight. 

 “We were able to demonstrate our capabilities and unique roles in contributing to regional stability exercises,”  said Lt Max Peetsma, Commander of 6 Platoon, 3 PPCLI, who led the Platoon throughout the exercise. “For a lot of us it was the first time working with other countries in a tactical environment so we learned about the frictions and advantages of working together.” “For a lot of us it was the first time working with other countries in a tactical environment so we learned about the frictions and advantages of working together.” 

Ex PEGASUS KORSARZ

Ex PEGASUS KORSARZ, was a Canadian led initiative conducted in the Drawsko-Pomorski training area of Poland from the 23rd - 27th of June. The exercise focused on close quarter battle training and was designed to improve skills such as room entries and clearances while maintaining overall fighting abilities in built up areas. 

After four days of training on close quarter battle strategies, procedures, and drills, the exercise culminated in a platoon size raid on an urban objective. Each platoon moved tactically to the objective, assaulted, then consolidated on the objective using the techniques that had recently been learned. To increase realism, the exercise also incorporated a medical element where simulated casualties required care while taking contact during the consolidation phase.

The environment that the training was conducted in also added realism into the exercise. “The training facilities available were extremely realistic and a pleasure to use,” said Sgt Tom Millar, the urban operations instructor who designed the exercise.  “We are used to very sterile training areas in Canada, the facility here was semi-demolished and mimicked a realistic battlefield.”  The main takeaway and realization for soldiers from B Company was that  “urban combat can be one of the most complex and confusing of tasks,”   said Sgt Millar.  “Due to this complexity, frequent and realistic training is required to maintain our proficiency, which is what we accomplished.” 

Ex GNIEZNO

Ex GNIEZNO was a Canadian led, partnered defensive exercise that saw B Company, the Polish 2nd Company, 18th Battalion, and a reconnaissance (recce) element augmented with Polish troops, conduct a parachute insertion followed by a reserve demolition guard at secured bridge sites. This goal of the exercise was to demonstrate the Canadian and Polish Companies ability to work together and function as a precise defensive tool in the larger battlespace. 

The exercise commenced with the partnered recce element jumping into the area, gaining eyes on the objectives, and establishing the drop zone for the follow on force. 48 hours later, B Company and Polish paratroopers then conducted a parachute insertion, before moving to seize bridge objectives while the recce team conducted a screen. The exercise then demanded that the bridge objectives be held for a period before being notionally destroyed when the withdrawal was ordered to commence.

We learned from the exercise how to synchronize efforts in a defensive context between cooperating forces,”  said Lt Cheng Xu, Commander of 5 Platoon. “Significantly, the exercise displayed interoperability, not just amongst multi-national forces, but also amongst elements within our own force.” 

Taken as a whole, these four main bi-lateral and multi-lateral exercises combined with other parachute and infantry training conducted by 3 PPCLI within OP REASSURANCE Roto 0 provided an excellent opportunity to develop skills and enhance our ability to operate with NATO Allies. The operation ensured that our troops are ready to meet challenges in complex international environments, contributed to international peace and stability, and supported our partners and Allies around the world.

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