Air Force returns
Canadian forces launch month-long exercise

Daniel MacIsaac
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Mar 10/00) - About 200 Canadian Armed Forces personnel and dozens of aircraft are arriving this week as part of a month-long training exercise, according to a press release.

Unlike the recent overnight visit by four CF-18 fighter jets and crew, however, this time staff at the air force base in Cold Lake, Alta., has said it will be making full use of its Forward Operating Location (FOL) site at the Inuvik airport.

"It's a coincidence that the other exercise took place so recently," said acting public affairs officer Krista Rivet. "It costs money and takes time to get an FOL up and running; this exercise is much larger and personnel have already arrived in Inuvik to open it up."

Rivet said the Armed Forces personnel will be coming from the 4 Wing Cold Lake squadron as well as other air force wings. She said residents can expect to see a lot of air activity as the Hercules transports both people and goods back and fourth, and as the CF-18s fighters fly training missions.

She said the exercise is designed to test the Canadian Forces' ability to deploy to an FOL on short notice and to provide realistic training in protecting Canada's air space, a point that 4 Wing Cmdr. Jim Donihee elaborated on in a written statement.

"International commitments have prevented us from executing this type of (North American Air Defence) exercise in recent years," he said. "This is a valuable opportunity for us to regain proficiency in conducting NORAD operations from an assigned FOL -- the short response time is indicative of the demands facing Canada's modern day, combat-capable, multipurpose air force."

Mayor George Roach said the town itself received no forewarning of the training exercise, but has experienced others.

"They've done this kind of exercise in the past, but because it's the military they don't give us any notice," he said. "It doesn't impact on the town too much."