Canada, Minnesota partner to maintain readiness across borders
March 20, 2022 (CAMP RIPLEY, Minnesota) – Canadian Army reservists of the 38th Brigade Group conducted several annual training activities on Camp Ripley March 11-21, 2022 including an air assault and squad movement exercise in cooperation with a Minnesota National Guard Aviation unit.
“As usual, Camp Ripley provided an environment where Soldiers of the Lake Superior Scottish Regiment were able to achieve their required challenging and complex training goals,” said Canadian Army Maj. Jim Davis, the unit’s deputy commanding officer.
The training opportunities on Camp Ripley are no different than many other installations in either Canada or the Unites States. However, the prime reason the units from Thunder Bay and Winnipeg to travel over the border is the closer proximity to Camp Ripley’s ranges, year-round billets and ready customer service.
“The big appeal comes from Soldiers and officers of the regiment being able to train, billet, store equipment securely and continue training all while reducing time on the road between homes station,” said Canadian Army Maj. Brian Mollison, training coordinator with the regiment.
“Our time on rifle ranges and out in the field is already limited being a reserve unit, but with a long distance between Thunder Bay and our bases in Canada, the better option was to travel to Minnesota,” said Canadian Army Cpl. Rob Neron, transportation Soldier with the 38th Service Battalion.
The Canadian 38th Brigade Group is an Army Reserve Formation of the 3rd Canadian Division, headquartered in Winnipeg, Manitoba, with units distributed throughout Northwestern Ontario, Manitoba and Saskatchewan.
“We appreciate the partnership with Camp Ripley and the Minnesota National Guard. We appreciate the hospitality both on and off post,” said Davis.
One of the more exciting training events took place on the weekend of March 20-21, 2022 as Soldiers of the regiment trained with aviators from the Minnesota National Guard’s 2nd Assault Helicopter Battalion of the147th Aviation Regiment. The training event included instruction and training on boarding the UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter, as well as how to safely and tactically exit the aircraft once it touches down in the landing zone. For many in the regiment, this was the first time training with equipment they would likely work with overseas.
“The opportunity to cross train with our American counterparts allowed for a training environment more typical of deployments,” added Davis.
As Canadian Armed Forces train in tactics such as being air-lifted by helicopter, the most common practice in country is with a version of the CH-146 Griffon utility tactical-transport helicopter while more recent trends overseas with allied countries is to operate using the CH-47 Chinook or UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters for air movements.
“We are observing and learning a lot, “said U.S Army Warrant Officer Matthew Sherwood, a pilot with the Minnesota National Guard. “It’s a benefit for us to understand how other nations communicate and operate though many different scenarios.”
The exercise went full-speed the morning of the 21st as three UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters landed just north of Camp Ripley cantonment area. Hand signal communication began between the helicopter crew chief and the Canadian squad leaders as Soldiers of the regiment began loading under the spinning rotary blades.
Within minutes, the first groups of personnel were loaded, and the aircraft lifted off the ground. Fifteen minutes later the signal was given to prepare to land as all three aircraft negotiated the snow-covered landing zone across the road from the Infantry Squad Battle Course near the very Northwest corner of Camp Ripley’s training area.
As safety straps released and troops exited the aircraft to secure the landing zone, the helicopters lifted off leaving the Canadian unit to tactically move onto the range and begin the next phase of their training event.
By Tony Housey
Minnesota National Guard’s Camp Ripley
Editor’s note: additional photos available at: https://www.dvidshub.net/news/417109/readiness-and-partnership-maintained-across-borders