Defence Minister Peter MacKay visited 4 Wing Cold Lake, Alta. to observe various aspects of the Exercise Maple Flag (MF) 41 and meet with some of the key players involved in this international fighter scenario.
The minister started his visit by attending a Canada Night event at the Junior Ranks Mess Club 41. The next morning began bright and early with preparations for a CF-18 flight and after lunch it was off to the MF Theatre for a briefing and a tour of 419 Squadron.
Despite the downsizing of the past two Maple Flags, Minister MacKay expressed confidence that MF continues to be a viable training opportunity not only for Canadian military assets but International forces as well. The integration of ground forces into mission scenarios by MF organizers provides unique training scenarios similar to the combat operations encountered by Canada and our allies in theatres such as Afghanistan and Iraq.
“We have found that the insurgency in Afghanistan has evolved,” said Minister MacKay. “We adapt, we make tactical and strategic decisions at a military level and what Maple Flag does is gives us a very active, robust, fast training process here that can certainly be utilized in the future.”
When asked about the military’s role in maintaining sovereignty in the arctic, the minister said that a presence there by Canadian Forces personnel and assets, as well as the Coast Guard and the RCMP, is extremely important when protecting Canada’s security and sovereignty. He also commented on 4 Wing’s long history of contributing to the defence of Canada and North America, by providing key personnel, resources and infrastructure to enable the NORAD mission in the North to succeed. “We certainly will rely on Cold Lake to continue doing the important work that they have been doing,” said Minister MacKay.
“I think that Cold Lake is such an important jewel in the Canadian Air Force as far as its location and its utility. The people that we have here are doing exceptional work and I feel very proud as Minister of National Defence to witness first hand Exercise Maple Flag.”
“The shine is back on the Force,” said Mr. MacKay borrowing a line by Chief of Defence Staff, General Hillier. “So much of what we are as a country is directly attributable to the men and women in uniform in the Canadian Forces and what they have done.”