Exercises

Maple Resolve: 'Superb' British Soldiers Join Canadian Army's Largest Exercise

More than 5,000 soldiers, including nearly 100 from 2 Mercian, have taken part in the Canadian Army’s biggest exercise of the year.

More than 5,000 soldiers have taken part in the Canadian Army’s largest exercise of the year.

For two weeks, soldiers from Canada, the UK, US and France have been part of Exercise Maple Resolve at the Canadian Manoeuvre Training Centre in Alberta.

Nearly 100 of those are from the British Army, including C Company of 2nd Battalion the Mercian Regiment.

The exercise pits two forces against each other, culminating in one final battle.

One of the Canadian commanders in Alberta praised 2 Mercian as "superb" during the exercise.

"They’ve been integrated with our opposition force, so basically the enemy force for the brigade going to the road, and they have done all the tasks above and beyond what we’ve asked them to do," says Lieutenant Colonel Joe Pospolita, Deputy Commander at the Canadian Manoeuvre Training Centre.

"They’ve told us at the initial start of the exercise: 'These are the objectives and the training medals that I want to meet'.

"We were able to adjust our exercise accordingly so that they could meet those medals and walk away saying, we are now ready to go."

Canadian Commander: Exercise Maple Resolve provides a 'good sense of accomplishment'

Maple Resolve all takes place in the town of Wainwright in east-central Alberta, on a training area which measures 680m² - enough room for the cities of Birmingham, Manchester and York combined.

It is the soldiers' chance to get "validated", which means they will have the training approval required in order to be ready to deploy anywhere in the world.

"This is their culmination exercise on their road to high readiness," says Lt Col Pospolita.

"The road to high readiness means that they are prepared to go anywhere and do any task."

"So it’s a critical step here, it’s their last step on the road through all the year training that they’ve done up to this point."

Major Andy Bell, Officer Commanding of 2 Mercian's C Company, told Forces News that, as the two opposing forces react to each other during the exercise, plans constantly change.

"You have no idea what task we'll be given, where we'll go in the world, or if it's going to happen at all," he says.

"Being flexible is absolutely imperative - we've certainly had that on this exercise."

Exercise Maple Resolve soldiers
Maple Resolve finished with a final attack after two weeks of the exercise.

Lieutenant Colonel Jordan Schaub, Commanding Officer of the 'Enemy Force' on Maple Resolve, said the exercise "stretches your abilities": "Exercise Maple Resolve is an exercise that brings you to a point that you think is your limit and extends you beyond that.

"The Mercians are a tenacious group - they do not stop.

"They're like a soldier that every infantry officer would like to have.

"You don't ever have to push them to do something - you actually have to pull them back sometimes."

Exercise Maple Resolve British soldiers in trench
Personnel carried electronic trackers which determined when they were classified as injured or 'killed' in the simulation.

The final battle of Maple Resolve is the major moment of the exercise.

For C Company's Private Joshua Howdle, it is his first international exercise after just seven months with 2 Mercian.

"It's been a great learning experience for me, being overseas," he says.

"The Canadians have attacked us on multiple different points, and the nature of being the enemy, we've been having to withdraw and lost the firefights, but that didn't stop us giving them a hard time along the way."

In one scenario of Maple Resolve, a defending force is outnumbered by six to one, including 2 Mercian's Lance Corporal Matthew Lucic: "We do have the advantage of being in defence, we've got prepared positions and we're definitely going give the Canadians a hard time."

Due to the large scale of the exercise, medics from the US National Guard are required on 24-hour standby each day.

During Maple Resolve, they are practising as a team so they are ready for any injured soldiers that need their attention.

"We've seen a lot of muscular, skeletal issues - sprains, knee, ankle issues," says Staff Sergeant Raquel Reed, from Maryland National Guard.

"Some things are internal - constipation... sore throats, respiratory issues. It's rather dusty here, it's dry."

Attention to detail during the exercise is crucial, to the extent where it has its own makeup and wardrobe department and more than 100 actors playing injured soldiers.

Featuring across the training area, the actors are given makeup by experts with experience in the film industry, using more than 10 gallons of fake blood in total throughout the exercise.

Back in the field, personnel faced the final attack phase. In the scenario, an electronic system gives a notification when a soldier has sustained an injury or even succumbed to a simulated death.

After 24 hours of battle, with most of C Company having been 'killed', the opposing force closed in, forcing a surrender.