Troops from around the world are stationed in southern Alberta this week, all to train for the possibility of a chemical weapons attack on the battlefield.
More than 400 personnel from 12 allied NATO countries took part in a training exercise on Wednesday.
“This is no simulation other than the simulations we’re putting together for them,” Lt.-Cmdr. Eric Dumas said.
“On each target that they’re exploiting, they’re working with live chemical, biological and radiological agents.”
Each group was given a different scenario or task related to a mass-casualty attack with chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear weapons.
The troops, equipped with gas masks and protective gear, were tasked with responding to a number of incidents, identifying the chemical element by taking samples and stabilizing patients who were contaminated.
Sarin, mustard gas, anthrax, ricin and californium isotopes were just some of the elements the troops had to deal with during the exercise.
“You can achieve a task in a high threat environment and at the end of the day, you’re able to go home to your wife and kids safely,” Dumas said.
It’s the 16th year that this type of training has been held at CFB Suffield. The base sits southwest of Calgary and is the largest military base in the Commonwealth.
Suffield is also home to Defence Research and Development Canada, an organization within the armed forces that responds to the technological and scientific needs of Canada’s military.
According to officials, it’s the perfect location for training with such dangerous elements.
“This place is quite unique,” Dumas said. “The expertise of the staff here, and then you have unique facilities that have been developed here, and the remoteness of the location.”
“All of this allows us to use live agents in the training that we’ve developed for NATO countries.”
According to personnel, the training exercise has proven to be successful, despite the extreme heat and high winds hammering southern Alberta.
“We’re folks in the military, so our job is to make sure, at the end of the day, that it always works and it always does,” Dumas said.
The training exercise takes place over three weeks in July and has been offered to more than 4,000 troops over the last 16 years.