They came by land, by sea and by air.
Over 100 Canadian forces units descended on the little fishing community of Cartwright last Monday and Tuesday, in an operation called Swift Current.
The plan was to deploy troops on the ground to move out protesters so a radar installation site could be set up as well as to link communications in a cellular free zone, much similar to conditions found in the far North.
Lieutenant General Shawn Leonard for the Joint Swift Current mission says the exercises that are carried out is designed to get all three levels of the forces to work together and coordinate efforts to work hand-in-hand should they be called into action.
“This involves both the Army, Navy and Air Force. The focus of the training is to confirm out training capabilities, so we can all talk to each other.”
Leonard says the training is important in case of a domestic emergency to make sure communications can be done in case cell or computer services have been compromised.
“We selected Cartwright because there is no phone coverage, so this makes us rely on our own systems for communication capabilities.”
The arrival of the HMCS Goose Bay last Monday was used as part of the tactical training to assist the Army and the infantry and transport them into a location where a mission will be conducted.
“The Army will do a security mission, of certain location, the Navy will provide the actual lift, transporting the troops and the Air force’s CP140, and the Aurora will provide intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance over the actual objective area.”
The Aurora is a maritime patrol aircraft operated by the Royal Canadian Air Force and is capable of providing satellite images at an altitude of 50,000 feet.
Leonard says once the troops have landed they will engage protesters opposed to the installation of a radar system.
“The scenario is not to physically engage the protesters because they are not hostile or belligerent, we will engage and talk to them and ask them to move peacefully away from the area.”
“The scenario is not to physically engage the protesters because they are not hostile or belligerent, we will engage and talk to them and ask them to move peacefully away from the area.” - – Lt.-Gen. Shawn Leonard
Leonard says with this training in Cartwright, it will bolster the military’s stance in the far North and those participating in the exercise here will be able to carry what they learned in protecting Canada’s sovereignty in the northern part of Canada.
David Saunders, who was a former resident from Goose Bay now living in Ottawa, was surprised to see so many troops and the HMCS Goose Bay in port came to the dock to look over the ship.
“I was in the military 20 years ago on the HMCs Vancouver, so seeing the Goose Bay here brings back memories.”
Saunders says he has never seen a ship like the Goose Bay, although he has heard of Frigate class ships.
Former Cartwright resident, Pte. Feguet, from the 2nd RNFDR (Royal Newfoundland Regiment) is patrolling in a community setting for the first time says he enjoyed the experience and it focused on observation and look for things that seem to be out of the ordinary.
“We are looking for suspicious activity, like if someone drives by four or five times we make note of it and go into a defensive mode.”
Feguet says this training will be very critical to his training and will teach him what to look out for should he be deployed into a hostile area.
Close to 150 soldiers, sailors and the Royal Canadian Air Force participated in the exercise.
The exercise was a fictional threat to communications location near Cartwright. After the exercise the HMCS Goose Bay made its way to the Town of Happy Valley-Goose Bay where it will be on public display and allow for community members to go aboard and tour the ship.