It’s hard to believe that more than a year has passed since members of Edmonton, Alberta-based 408 Tactical Helicopter Squadron redeployed from the final rotation of Canadian Forces aviation support in Afghanistan.
It has been an incredibly busy year as 408 Squadron members have regrouped, refocused on endeavours such as northern operations and provided a high level of support to other operations and exercises. All of this was accomplished while everyone got back up to speed on domestic operations and underwent further skills training.
The year began with a major deployment in support of Exercise Arctic Ram, a northern operations exercise led by Land Force Western Area (LFWA) and 1 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group. The deployment included four CH-146 Griffon helicopters and almost 100 personnel from 408 Squadron, augmented by an array of supporting aircraft from other Royal Canadian Air Force units.
As the spring and summer went on, 408 Squadron was called to support exercises held from Shilo, Man., to Wainwright, Alta., to Valcartier, Que. The squadron supported a variety of LFWA units as well as road-to-high-readiness exercise efforts in Land Force Quebec Area. Starting in the late summer, 408 Squadron also began individual and collective training efforts to prepare for the road-to-high-readiness, which will see 408 Squadron take over from Valcartier-based 430 Squadron as the tactical aviation high-readiness unit for 1 Wing Kingston, Ont.
An ongoing theme of lessons learned has been woven throughout everything 408 Squadron has done this year. Its members strive to garner lessons learned from all they do, including from operations in Afghanistan, and continue to incorporate those lessons wherever possible.
A painting entitled “Griffon Gunner,” by artist Charles Kadin, has been released on the subject of lessons learned from Afghanistan and 408 Squadron’s history of service in support of the people of Afghanistan and our ground troops. It captures the combined operations of the CH-147 Chinook and CH-146 Griffon helicopters in Afghanistan, with a special focus on those who manned the aircraft’s door guns. Prints can be purchased by contacting the Air Force Museum of Alberta.