‘Bonds of friendship’ reinforced by Exercise MAPLE ARCH 2017

A miltary briefing

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By Steven Fouchard, Army Public Affairs

Nowa Dęba, Poland — The first Exercise MAPLE ARCH (Ex MAPLE ARCH) in 1999 fostered relations between the armed forces of Poland, Ukraine and Lithuania –  who were then yet to become members of NATO – and Canada.

This year marks the 18th edition of Ex MAPLE ARCH, which takes place from November 5 to 16 in Nowa Dęba, Poland, but it is more than routine. Those relations are now well-established and, as this year’s Canadian contingent commander notes in the following interview, Canada is coming to Ex MAPLE ARCH 17 in an “enhanced” mentorship role.

Lieutenant-Colonel Stephen Hale also notes that, 18 years in, Canadian skills and knowledge are still highly valued by our Allies in the region. And we, he says, very much value what they have to teach us.

As Commander of the Canadian contingent, what do you hope is accomplished during Ex MAPLE ARCH 17?

This year, Canada has shifted from being a co-host of the exercise and we are now supporting the ongoing development of Ukrainian Armed Forces (UAF) personnel in exercise planning and conduct. Our focus for Ex MAPLE ARCH 17 has been enhanced to include direct mentorship of key exercise planners from Ukraine. The optimal outcome will be the delivery of a high-quality exercise in which our allies from Poland and Ukraine receive solid training in operational planning and command and control of peace support operations.

Could you briefly describe the make-up of your team?

Each year, the size of the Canadian contingent has been tailored to meet exercise aims. For this year, our team of 15 will provide mentors for key leaders and planners from Ukraine and Poland, and provide a mentor/trainer team to support the training of a UAF Battalion Headquarters.

Aside from yourself, what roles are Reservists filling on this exercise?

Primary Reservists will make up over half of the delegation and provide mentorship, mostly at the battalion level. Mentors are drawn principally from across 5th Canadian Division with Lieutenant-Colonel Joseph Gervais of The Princess Louise Fusiliers returning for his second year to mentor the Battalion Commander.

Describe the exercise scenario.

The scenario has fictitious Skolkan forces seeking to re-establish ancestral lands in Central and Eastern Europe through force in the affected countries. With a general stalemate developing in the fictitious country of Rederia (geo-located in what is actually Northern Poland) the Lithuanian/Polish/Ukrainian Brigade is requested to monitor a zone of separation between North and South Rederia.

Ex MAPLE ARCH 17 is a computer-assisted exercise (CAX). How does it differ from others?

A CAX allows for increased complexity of operations, which are often difficult to replicate without great expense during a field training exercise. The CAX methodology will allow for multiple cycles of operational planning while at the same time challenging the unit HQ operations centre to track and control ongoing operations. In the CAX environment, sub-unit commanders can hone skills in mission planning without being challenged with the day-to-day management of deployed personnel and equipment maintenance routinely seen on field training exercises.

What are some of the most memorable experiences you’ve had, or most valuable lessons learned, from previous MAPLE ARCH exercises?

My MAPLE ARCH experiences have led to lasting friendships with many exercise participants. By working together with military personnel from various countries, it is possible to gain insights into how others view world issues and where our similarities lie in addressing them.

With respect to supporting the training of Ukrainian forces, I have been impressed by their professionalism and their willingness to continue to be active learners. My hope is that this year, as in previous years, interaction between exercise participants remains to be one of learning for both sides and that the bonds of friendship continue to flourish well after the exercise ends.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

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Related Links

Nations ‘standing shoulder to shoulder’ at Exercise MAPLE ARCH 2015
Ex MAPLE ARCH 14 – Enduring Relevance for a Multinational Exercise
5th Canadian Division
The Princess Louise Fusiliers
Canadian Army Reserve

Image gallery

  • A military briefing
  • Soldiers participate in Exercise MAPLE ARCH
  • A miltary briefing

Article / October 25, 2017 / Project number: 17-0110

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