Canada invades Camp Lejeune

17 Nov 2006 | Cpl. Brandon R. Holgersen

Nearly 300 Canadian military personnel conducted the culminating exercise of the Integrated Tactical Effects Experiment here Nov. 17-20. 

The experiment under the mentorship of the Marine Corps and Navy provided an opportunity for the Canadian forces to better understand what it will take to build an integrated, high-readiness, seaborne and sea-based force that can defend the nation’s interest.

“We have learned a lot from these Marines and sailors in the last couple of weeks. We have learned that the basic skill sets are already resonant in the Canadian forces and navy and we could assemble a unit like this if it is a desire for the government to do so,” said Canadian Navy Cmdr. Steven Bell, officer in charge of the Maritime Amphibious Unit. “In two decades, this is probably the most exciting thing we have done.”

One hundred and fifty infantryman from the 2e Battalion, Royal 22e Regiment, rode from the USS Gunston Hall on landing craft units to Onslow beach simulating an amphibious landing. Canadian forces exited the LCU’s on their light armored vehicles and started their mission to travel to the military operations in urban terrain training town and secure it.

“This is the first step in investigating these capabilities. A capability like this is not only a war fighting capability,” said Bell. “We can project humanitarian assistance across the beach for the remediation of a natural disaster. This is a great way to get in and help people who are in any kind of trouble.”

During the training, the Canadian forces received logistical support the II Marine Expeditionary Force, said Lt. Col. Terry Harwood, the reserve operation liaison, Future Operations Office, II MEF Training and Operations office.

“We are just happy to help,” said Harwood. “They are very enthusiastic. It is a new concept doing amphibious operations for the Canadians. They came to us looking to know how do we start this program and we were all too happy to help.”

In the early stages of the exercise, Canadian forces equipped with G-Wagons, LAV III, practiced surface connectors onboard LCU provided by the USS Gunston Hall and air connectors via Sea King helicopters converted for troop lift which started Nov. 2. The familiarization training was conducted in Halifax Harbor, Nova Scotia.

“In two decades, this is probably the most exciting thing we have done,” said Bell. “We have a world class navy, albeit small, and a world class army but we are going to take the skills sets we have in those two forces as well as from our air component and put them together in a new way and it will give us a new capability set and a new mission set that we can engage in and it is a very exciting professional development.”