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Learning together at the Maple Arch military exercises

Soldiers standing at attention
Two hundred soldiers who participated in the 2011 Maple Arch Exercises (Photo credit: Mr. Mariusz Bieniek, Polish Ministry of Defence)

Military personnel shake hands
Canadian Defense Attaché, Colonel Andre Sévigny, with Poland’s 6th Airborne Division Commander Bogdan Tworkowski (Photo credit: Mr. Mariusz Bieniek, Polish Ministry of Defence)
Soldiers standing beneath flags
The opening ceremony of the Maple Arch exercises started with a minute's silence to honour the victims of the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Centre. (Photo credit: Mr. Mariusz Bieniek, Polish Ministry of Defence.)
Soldiers marching
An international military parade ended the opening ceremony of the Maple Arch exercise in Zagan, Poland. Featured in this photo are the Polish Forces. (Photo credit: Mr. Mariusz Bieniek, Polish Ministry of Defence.)

Standing side-by-side and shoulder-to-shoulder, a group of two hundred soldiers undertook special training known as the Maple Arch exercises, so they can learn to cooperate effectively in the field. Hailing from Canada, Poland, Lithuania and Ukraine, the soldiers came together for the international military exercises in Zagan-Swietoszow, Poland.

The Maple Arch exercises are especially designed to increase interoperability of diverse international forces so that they can work together during coalition Peace Support Operations. A significant component of the exercises involves teaching a Canadian technique for securing threatened urban areas, through both knowledge sharing and practical drills.

This year’s exercises, co-hosted by Canada and Poland, are part of preparations for the 11th shift of the Polish military contingent in Afghanistan, which is scheduled to start its mission in the spring of next year. Instructors brought in from Canada shared their knowledge, skills and experience to improve the implementation of tasks performed in conditions similar to those in Afghanistan.

At the official opening of the exercises, Canadian Defense Attaché Colonel Andre Sévigny stressed that Maple Arch is not only an excellent training opportunity, but also enhances cooperation and deepens mutual understanding between soldiers.

Troops often face a language barrier when working with international forces, and so the Maple Arch exercises place emphasis on clear and effective communication between soldiers –irrespective of mother tongue.

“Ukraine, Poland and Lithuania are strategic partners of Canada internationally, both at the political level and the military level, and so we are here training them, to enable these countries to participate with Canada,” said Andrew Rasiulis, Director of Military Training and Cooperation.

Members of the Canadian Forces have participated in the Maple Arch Exercise since 1990, as part of NATO’s Partnership for Peace. With experience in missions and operations in Bosnia, Afghanistan and Libya, Canada’s training leadership is invaluable in these activities.

To learn more about the Maple Arch Exercise and meet some of the soldiers who participated, check out this Canadian Forces video. Next year, Canada will conduct the Maple Arch exercise in Ukraine.

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