Training together to better protect the North

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Military participants were challenged in their ability to detect, deter, and defend against a variety of threats to North America’s sovereign airspace recently.

More than 700 military members from the CAF, the US Air Force, the US Navy, and the US Air National Guard braved the beginning of the Canadian winter during Exercise VIGILANT SHIELD 16, the NORAD Field Training Exercise in Iqaluit, Nunavut, and 5 Wing Goose Bay, Newfoundland and Labrador.

The exercise was a portion of an annual exercise series sponsored by NORAD and led by a regional command who undertakes field training exercises aimed at improving its operational capability in a bi-national environment.

“This year’s exercise scenarios provided participants the opportunity to realistically train and practice their mission in a simulated training environment. The teamwork between Canadians and Americans has been outstanding straight from beginning of the exercise,” explained Lieutenant-Colonel Kyle Paul (RCAF), VS16 NORAD FTX Air Task Force commander. “Both nations were able to improve their interoperability and ultimately to demonstrate NORAD’s ability to defend North America.”

NORAD used the exercise to build on previous years’ training successes, when deploying air assets and personnel to exercise Northern sovereignty operations in the High Arctic.

“Operating from Iqaluit presented a number of challenges for logistics, communications and flying operations. Nevertheless, through careful planning, co-operation with local agencies and hard work, the Iqaluit detachment was able to bring the Forward Operating Location facilities to an operational state very rapidly to support our flying operations,” said LCol Dave Turenne (RCAF), detachment commander in Iqaluit.

NORAD ensures US and Canadian air sovereignty through a network of alert fighters, tankers, airborne early warning aircraft, and ground based air defence assets cued by interagency and defence surveillance radars.

“In order to be effective we need to work together. We come [to Canada] to operate in a different environment and also operate with different organizations,” said LCol Robert Swertfager (USAF), Air Expeditionary Wing commander.

“The exercise certainly allowed 5 Wing Goose Bay and Iqaluit to demonstrate their ability to serve as valuable operating sites in support of NORAD’s mission and showcase their role in the defence of North America as Forward Operating Locations,” said LCol Paul.”

NORAD is a bi-national command formed by a partnership between Canada and the United States. NORAD provides maritime warning, aerospace warning and aerospace control for North America.

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