Canadians hit the muddy ground running on Operation REASSURANCE

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Article / March 31, 2017

By: Lt(N) Tony Wright, Public Affairs Officer, Operation REASSURANCE Land Task Force

“Nothing says infantry like digging a hole.”

        - Private Kelly Mottershead, 3 PPCLI

Among the rain, mud, and sopping wet trees, Private Kelly Mottershead is digging in.  He’s creating a defensive position: a hole in the ground that he and his fire team partner can fight from when the enemy comes.

It’s going to take about ten hours. Strangely, he appears to be smiling.Kelly is a soldier with 3rd Battalion Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (3 PPCLI). He and the other 184 soldiers from 3 PPCLI were in the Joint Multinational Readiness Centre training area at Hohenfels, Germany for Exercise ALLIED SPIRIT VI from March 12 to 30, 2017.

Pitting Opposing Force troops (OPFOR) from the United States against a multinational NATO force in a “free play” scenario, this exercise was designed to help train NATO and Partnership for Peace militaries to work and fight together.

About 2,700 troops from Canada, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Hungary, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Macedonia, the Netherlands, and Slovenia were all part of this exercise in the hills and forests of southeastern Germany during a rainy start of spring.

Canada worked closely with Latvia during the exercise. Among other things, the Latvians exercised their Command and Control element and commanded the brigade group of which 3 PPCLI was a part.

“This exercise is providing our soldiers with a unique opportunity to put to use the skills they have learned training in Canada in a complex multinational scenario,” says Op REASSURANCE Land Task Force Commander, Major Jesse Van Eijk. “They are working hard to support our Latvian allies through tactical and sustainment operations despite harsh terrain and weather. I am extremely proud of the determination and capability they have demonstrated. It is shared experiences and hardships such as these that will continue to build our cohesion within NATO.”

The troops from 3 PPCLI arrived at their base in Poland in late February 2017. With barely any time to unpack, they were in Germany in early March. Besides training in Poland, over the next six months they will find themselves in Hungary, Bulgaria, Estonia, and Romania.

It is a lot of places, travel, and training. But, according to Logistics Platoon Commander Captain Nathan Leung, it is just what they signed up for: “Every day is a new experience. No day is the same and we get to go out and play with cool toys and come out to the field and work with different partners. It is my favourite part of the army!”

The Canadians are in Europe as part of Operation REASSURANCE. Canada launched this mission in 2014 to contribute to NATO’s collective defence in Europe and demonstrate Canada’s commitment to the Alliance.

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