There may not have been any bullets flying, but soldiers involved in a military exercise early Friday morning acted as if there could be as they stormed the beach at Rocky Point.
All three elements of the Canadian Forces – army, navy and air force – were working together to get troops from ship to shore as part of the large scale operation. HMCS Ottawa and Regina from CFB Esquimalt monitored the action from the Georgia Straight, along with the submarine Victoria.
The Canadian Navy has been engaging in anti-submarine and anti-warfare exercises and for this exercise worked with the army to practice a beach landing. In total more than 1,000 personnel from Canada and the U.S.A. are taking part in exercises, although just 39 troops landed on the beach at the Rocky Point ammo depot in Metchsoin on Friday.
Major Stewart Parkinson of the Canadian Scottish Regiment planned the ground forces element of the exercise. He said that exercises such as this help soldiers to learn to work in partnership with other divisions of the military and in a scenario that, while rare in recent times, has played out in many conflicts throughout history, including the D-day landings in the Second World War.
“It’s a good, worthwhile experience,” Parkinson said. “They’re good operations. They create a sense of cooperation, adds to the infantry’s ability to be flexible, adaptable and agile, which we need to be.”
Friday’s scenario involved Canadian troops landing on the beaches of the friendly country “Kumar” to take out an objective that has enemy intelligence.
The Canadian Forces’ 39 Brigade Group, made up of soldiers from all over B.C., landed in waves, first to secure the beach and then to unload more troops and equipment. With no opposition forces, the operation went smoothly and with little fanfare.
On Saturday, as a further part of the exercise, troops will be performing reconnaissance missions and then storming an “enemy” outpost to liberate “VIPs” and bring them to safety. Troops also took part in a drill that had them load on to helicopters from land and then jump into the sea to get back to ships.
U.S. Navy ships Ford and Rentz from Everett, Wash., and San Diego, Calif., are also taking part in the naval exercises, which run until March 16.