ARCHIVED - Exercise Unified Spirit 2000

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Backgrounder / October 27, 2000 / Project number: BG-JHQ NCE 00.01

Exercise Unified Spirit 2000 is one of a series of large-scale NATO exercises conducted every two years. Although these involve primarily naval forces, they also include elements of land and air forces, and are designed to train Alliance partners in joint operations. The last exercise in the series took place in 1998 off the coasts of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland.

The aim of Exercise Unified Spirit 2000 is to train and exercise a sea-based Combined Joint Task Force in responding to an escalating crisis situation involving sea, land and air forces. Taking part will be approximately 27,000 military personnel from six NATO nations: Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States. Most other NATO nations will provide individual participants. While headquartered at the US Navy station at Norfolk, VA, the exercise area encompasses much of the US eastern seaboard, extending from Virginia to Florida and even into the Caribbean.

Canada's contribution to this important exercise consists of approximately 2,500 personnel from all three services. Two of the exercise's senior posts have been assigned to Canadians. Rear-Admiral Bruce MacLean, Commander Maritime Forces Atlantic, is in command of all exercise naval forces, while Brigadier-General Greg Mitchell, Commander of Land Force Atlantic Area, leads Task Force Savannah, a senior-level planning exercise. While this part of Unified Spirit 2000 does not involve field troops, it will practice the headquarters staff of a multinational corps that would consist of between 50,000 and 60,000 NATO soldiers. Task Force Savannah's assignment is to develop a campaign plan for a Kosovo-like commitment.

Sailing aboard the command ship USS Mount Whitney, RAdm MacLean is in charge of some 35 ships, more than 120 aircraft and about 12,000 personnel. Apart from Canadian naval vessels, the force includes ships of the US, German and French navies. They are grouped around the USS Harry S Truman Carrier Battle Group, the USS Nassau Amphibious Ready Group, and a Canada-U.S. Minesweeping Squadron.

Canada's naval contribution to the exercise consists of the destroyer HMCS Iroquois, the support ship HMCS Preserver, the frigates HMCS Fredericton and Charlottetown, and the coastal defence vessels HMCS Goose Bay and Moncton. In all, about 1,200 Maritime Forces personnel will take part. Further information about these ships and the navy can be found at:

More than 1,000 Canadian army personnel are taking part, most from 2nd Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group at CFB Petawawa. The largest contingent is First Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment, with a strength of 596. They are supported by a 118-strong company from 2nd Service Battalion, along with the 101 members of E Battery of 2nd Royal Canadian Horse Artillery. There is also a troop of 12 from 1st Air Defence Regiment, 55 members of 23 Field Squadron of 2nd Combat Engineer Regiment, and a four-person section from 2nd Military Police Platoon. From Land Force Atlantic Area, is the 160-strong 4th Air Defence Regiment. The 1 RCR Battle Group soldiers will practice airmobile operations, fighting in urban areas, and amphibious landings with the US Marines at Camp Lejeune, NC. Further information about these units of the army can be found at:

The Canadian air force participation consists of 14 CF aircraft from four squadrons. Operating from the Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, NC, they are: 5 CF-18 Hornets of 433 Squadron from Bagotville, QC; 5 CT-133 Silver Stars of 434 Squadron and one CP-140 Aurora of 405 Squadron, both from Greenwood, NS; and one KC-130 Hercules refueler of 435 Squadron from Winnipeg, Man. Additionally, radar and air traffic control equipment is being staffed by personnel from 8 Air Command and Control Squadron from Trenton, Ont. Further information about Canadian aircraft and the air force can be found at:

Exercise Unified Spirit 2000 is scheduled to end October 30, 2000.

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