CANADIAN MANOEUVRE TRAINING CENTER, CAMP WAINRIGHT, Alberta --
It was a pristine Alberta day, weather in the mid-70s, likely a great reprieve from the unforgiving Canadian winter that recently began to wane. The slightly graded hills were covered with bright evergreens that silhouetted against backdrops of blue skies. Then, out of the blue: radio chatter, the percussive sound of helicopters and jet planes and the combined thunder of machine guns and bombs as members of the U.S. Marine Corps and Canadian Armed Forces conjured up lightning from the sky.
The Marines and Sailors of 1st Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company, I Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group, teamed up with members of the Canadian Armed Forces and conducted a series of close air support (CAS) missions using live munitions, May 5, during Exercise Maple Resolve 2015.
“Today, the Canadians had a directive basically to integrate some F-18s from Cold Lake Air Force base … into Maple Resolve and so we are out here to facilitate that training,” explained Capt. Austin Jones, company air officer, 1st ANGLICO. “It’s also a good opportunity for us to work with our Canadian counterparts and see how they’re doing business … we’re also able to ensure that some of their JTACs remain current.”
Maple Resolve is a multi-national exercise conducted annually by the Canadian Army as a three-week high-readiness validation exercise for Canadian Army elements designated for domestic or international operations.
The Marines and Soldiers first called in CH-146 Griffon Helicopters whose pilots and aircrew conducted several strafing runs using machine guns on a few targets about 700-meters from the Marine’s position atop a small-hill. The wooden and metal targets were meant to emulate armored vehicles.
After a couple of gun runs from the helicopters, an F-18 from the Royal Canadian Air Force joined the show and dropped two 500-pound bombs on similar targets.
“I would say this is very much ANGLICO’s bread and butter, close air support,” Jones explained. “This is what we do, pretty much our selling point.”
He added that exercises like Maple Resolve 15 with the Canadian Armed Forces increases interoperability and theater cooperation between the U.S. and its partner nations. It also gives 1st ANGLICO the opportunity to provide allied units a capability they might not have organically.
“Recently the world’s getting smaller and smaller so you’re going to see that U.S. forces and specifically Marines … are going to be working with foreign militaries … where we can become more familiar with their procedures and then also make them more familiar with our procedures,” he stated. “It’s going to make us more proficient as a team, as a unit.
During the training Jones, who’s call sign is “Boxer,” was able to run some of the companies newer Marines as well as several Canadian Soldiers through the process of calling in the aircraft, giving many the opportunity to wield the immense power for the first time.
According to Jones, teaching all Marines from 1st ANGLICO how to call for fires and communicate is one of the company’s principle tenants.
“It’s great for me to … do these types of training, especially to expose younger Marines who may not be able to see this, what fires can do to against an enemy force,” he said. “We believe that any Marine that is part of ANGLICO is an Anglican and should be able to at least be familiar enough with those procedures to be able to do that if they’re called upon to do it.”
For Cpl. Sandra Trevino, an administrative specialist with the company, this was not only the first time she has ever gotten to call in fire from an air craft, it is actually the first time any female assigned to the company has.
The Marine Corps just recently started assigning females to certain combat arms units, and Trevino is one of the first female noncommissioned officers to be assigned to 1st ANGLICO.
“I feel like I’m setting some type of milestone for somebody who can follow in my footsteps,” Trevino said.
The exercise, which is slated to last around another week, will continue to provide some unique training opportunities for the Marines from 1st ANGLICO and their Canadian brothers-in-arms as temperatures dwindled back to around 30 degrees Fahrenheit.