Camp Shelby, Miss. – More than 1,500 reservists of the Canadian Forces’ 34th and 35th Brigade Groups held their annual “Noble Guerrier” exercise at Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center (CSJFTC). The exercise was held from January 3rd through the 13th, and consisted of a variety of situational training exercises designed to simulate a contemporary operating environment in Afghanistan.
This year’s exercise also included student journalists from the University of Quebec in Montreal (UQAM), who took part in the training as “embedded journalists” alongside the Soldiers in the field. The students shared in the training experience, enduring long hours, MRE’s (Meal, Ready-to-Eat), and the sudden surprise of simulated ambushes and Improvised Explosive Devices.
“I want to be a war correspondent,” said Andriane Williams, one of the UQAM student journalists, “so coming here was a kind of test to see if I would be able to do this kind of work. I love this experience, even though it’s been tiring and difficult, because it’s made me realize that even though there is a real risk to this kind of work, I still want to do it.”
This year’s exercise concentrated on replicating what the Canadian Army calls a Contemporary Operating Environment, and their aggressor forces, which used to be known as “Opposing Forces”, or OPFOR, are now known by the term “Contemporary Operating Environment Forces”, or COEFOR.
“We replicate the Afghan National Army, police forces, villagers and religious leader as well as the insurgents,” said Maj. Christopher Bradley, COEFOR Officer in Charge, “and we found that the name OPFOR wasn’t really a good name for the things that we do, and with that you also run the risk of saying that everybody is the opposition, which clearly isn’t the case because the Afghan Security Forces are on our team, so we changed the name to Contemporary Operating Environment Forces, or COEFOR.”
During the exercise, the Canadian Soldiers conducted a wide variety of training scenarios, including area defense, artillery bombardment, Counter-IED (Improvised Explosive Device), peace negotiations and Military Operations on Urbanized Terrain (MOUT). This training is intended to prepare the 34th and 35th Brigade Groups for upcoming deployments to Afghanistan in support of the Global War on Terrorism.
By Sgt. Kenny Hatten