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NATO dive-training exercise underway on Vancouver Island

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Canadian military divers and NATO partners have convened on the shores of Vancouver Island for a massive training exercise, prepping the military personnel for real-world scenarios.

“We need to make sure as a military that we are ready for whatever faces us whether that is protecting Canadians or for our mandates on behalf of the government of Canada domestically or abroad,” says Lt.-Col. Cindy Legarie with the Canadian Armed Forces School of Military Engineering. “We need to train those skills to make sure we’re proficient,” she says.

Canadian Armed Forces dive teams and military partners from six countries are working out of Pedder Bay in Metchosin, B.C., for the three-week exercise. The annual event is called Roguish Buoy.

“We extend engineering into the water,” says exercise coordinator Capt. Alexander Scott. “The role of the engineers is to provide friendly forces the ability to live, fight and move on the battlefield.”

On Wednesday, a reconnaissance drill was set up around the Department of National Defence’s jetty at Rocky Point. The teams were tasked with a dive mission that put their underwater compass navigation, measurement, and slope assessment skills to the test.

“I like to just be a better soldier and any opportunity I can get to further my skills is a great opportunity in my mind,” says Liam Simoes.

Legarie says the teams also practise conventional munitions disposal underwater and the drills change annually to focus on the most up-to-date skills required.

Military teams from the United States, United Kingdom, France, Belgium, Netherlands and Germany are taking part.

“I think the biggest benefit is to build a platform to exchange, to connect each other, especially for standard operation procedures and to train it,” says cadet Martin Wanucka of Germany’s armoured vehicle battalion. “We are all members of NATO so we have to prepare for the worst case.”

A total of 65 people are taking part in Roguish Buoy from Jan. 29 to Feb. 13. While they’re taking advantage of the island’s mild winter for coastal training, the divers conduct most of their work on inland waterways, working close to shorelines and riverbanks.

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