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U.S. Soldiers Join Forces With Canadian Army During Maple Caravan 15
by U.S. Army Sgt. Jonathan Fernandez - April 11, 2015

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KAPUSKASING, ONTARIO, Canada -- Planning a transportation mission across more than 2,500 miles of frozen highways in a foreign country takes a lot of coordination, hard work and cooperation between the countries involved.

That is exactly what happened months ago when U.S. Soldiers and Canadian Army Forces began planning exercise Maple Caravan 15, the U.S. Army's first ever long-haul mission across Canada. Planning for this mission began in August 2014, with a route reconnaissance occurring shortly thereafter.

March 16, 2015 - Canadian Army soldiers out of Canadian Forces Base Valcartier assist Soldiers of the 619th Transportation Company, 812th Transportation Battalion, 316th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), load U.S. Army Reserve M915A5 trucks with Canadian equipment as they begin a more than 2,500-mile journey across the country of Canada in support of Exercise Maple Caravan 15. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Jonathan Fernandez)
March 16, 2015 - Canadian Army soldiers out of Canadian Forces Base Valcartier assist Soldiers of the 619th Transportation Company, 812th Transportation Battalion, 316th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), load U.S. Army Reserve M915A5 trucks with Canadian equipment as they begin a more than 2,500-mile journey across the country of Canada in support of Exercise Maple Caravan 15. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Jonathan Fernandez)

“We planned everything with the Americans,” said Canadian Army Master Warrant Officer Eric Strong, a mobile support equipment operator for the Canadian Movement Training Center from Canadian Forces Base Wainwright, Alberta. “This mission has been a long time coming.”

Plans became a reality on March 16 when Soldiers from the 619th Transportation Company, 812th Transportation Battalion, 316th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), drove 11 U.S. Army Reserve M915A5 trucks from their home in Dexter, Maine, to Canadian Forces Base Valcartier in Quebec. The mission involves moving Canadian Army equipment more than 2,500 miles across the country to Alberta, and involves over 320 military personnel from both countries.

“There's been a lot of moving parts,” said Canadian Army Sgt. Adam Frey, a traffic technician at Canadian Forces Base Valcartier. “From adapting to using different loading procedures with us, to driving in different weather conditions, it's been a good experience for the U.S. Soldiers. It's interesting to see the American boys overcome the weather changes they faced here.”

Two military forces from two different countries working side-by-side is not an everyday occurrence for these two militaries, but with great attitudes, and a similar training and execution style, the task seemed to go very smoothly.

“Working with the Americans is definitely a lot easier than working with civilian transportation contractors,” said Frey. “It has been flawless. I've worked with the Americans a lot while deployed and it's easy to function. I wish we could do it more.”

Frey's insight and observations seemed to be shared by his American counterparts as well.

“We definitely could not have done this mission without the help of the Canadian military,” said Staff Sgt. Michael Grant, a squad leader with the 619th Trans. Company and native of Milford, Maine. “Unlike driving back home, we are not as familiar with these roads and driving laws, and there is a language barrier that the Canadians help us overcome. They are instrumental in the successful logistical aspect of the mission.”

Once the vehicles were loaded, the Soldiers hit the road receiving meal and lodging support at various Canadian military bases on predetermined waypoints along the route.

Canadian Army Master Cpl. Benoit Thisdel, a medic with the 5th Field Ambulance, is one of the convoys' medics and he has worked with American Soldiers previously during a deployment to Afghanistan.

“Working with American Soldiers is always a great experience,” said Benoit. “There are a lot of similarities in our military styles, but there are also many differences, and that's always very interesting to learn.”

For the U.S. Soldiers, working hand-in-hand with the Canadian troops not only assures the success of the mission here, but gives them experience training in a joint environment.

“Working here has proven to be beneficial for both the Canadian forces and the U.S. troops,” said Lt. Col. Daniel Lamb, the future operations officer of the 103rd Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) and native of Des Moines, Iowa. “It gives our Soldiers a very different perspective. We are the greatest military in the world, but we are not the only military in the world.”

By U.S. Army Sgt. Jonathan Fernandez
Provided through DVIDS
Copyright 2015

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