Fort McCoy News September 12, 2014

Canadian forces participate in Red Dragon exercise

BY SPC. ANDREW BABA
300th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

FORT MCCOY, Wis. — Canadian Army soldiers collaborated with U.S. counterparts during the recent Red Dragon exercise here.
Red Dragon is an annual training exercise of the 415th Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) Brigade of Greenville, S.C. The exercise usually attracts friends and allies of the U.S., and the 2014 iteration was not any different.

Photo for Red Dragon article
Sgt. Matthew De La Cruz, a reconnaissance noncom-
missioned officer of the 369th Chemical Company of
El Paso, Texas, observes as Lt. Louis-Philippe Roy-Cyr,
a logistics officer of the Canadian Forces' 1st Service
Battalion, from Ontario, Canada, decontaminates his
protective mask during the Red Dragon exercise at
Fort McCoy in August.
Photo by Staff Sgt. Peter Ford

For 13 Canadian soldiers who took part in Red Dragon, it was an opportunity to train together with U.S. Soldiers since both countries occasionally fight jointly during multilateral military operations, and take home best practices in CBRN operations.

"From this training, our Soldiers would experience working with a foreign Army, which is important because whenever we go overseas we never go alone," said Canadian Army Lt. Roger Leblanc of 2 Service Battalion, Petawawa, Ontario. "We always have NATO partners, and the U.S. is one of those big partners we travel with on foreign military operations."

Beyond acquiring experience in working with foreign counterparts the Canadian forces were here to compare notes and seek out knowledge gaps to fill on their return to their home units.

"We're here to observe as well as participate, and to gain knowledge," said Leblanc. "We will also determine whether or not we are going to send Canadian Soldiers here next year to be active participants, and gain the CBRN knowledge that we lack back home in Canada."

"The Canadian Army has sent in 13 of their Soldiers. The Canadian Army does not have a military occupational specialty dedicated to CBRN operations, but they are trained in CBRN defense operations," said Richmond, Virginia native, Col. Charles Jones, deputy commander of 415th CBRN Brigade. "They are here to enhance their training by syncing with our CBRN units doing joint training efforts to enhance their ability for CBRN defense.

"We embed the Canadian Soldiers in the squads and company levels, we also embed them in the battalion level so they can see command and control operations as well," Jones said. "They are also given the opportunity to be observer controllers so they get to see from a broader perspective."

From this multi-faceted involvement of the Canadian Soldiers in the CBRN training operation, it is hoped that one of the key objectives of their participation, which included information gathering, was met. "A successful mission for us would be gathering of information and learning exactly what CBRN battalions and companies here do, and take that back with us," said Canadian Army Sgt. Dave Melcher of the Highlander Infantry Unit, Calgary, Alberta.

The U.S. forces are not in this for themselves alone. As the exercise progressed, they trained with a sense of responsibility and commitment, not just to the defense of the U.S., but also to rise to the occasion should allies be attacked with weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

"We're manned and equipped to support this country and any allied forces in terms of our ability to defend against WMD," Jones added. "When we as an organization are proficient in those skills necessary to defend us from WMD and to continue to fight, then this mission is a success."