Exercise Noble Warrior brings Canadian reservists to Fort Pickett

Canadian Army reservists from the Montreal-based 34th Canadian Brigade Group and the Quebec City-based 35th Canadian Brigade Group “advance to contact” as part of their training during Exercise Noble Guerrier (Noble Warrior) 13 at Fort Pickett on Jan. 7. Approximately 1,500 Canadian reservists from 20 different units arrived at Fort Pickett Jan. 2 for a culminating training event, designed to validate and test the training conducted by the soldiers over the past several months. The exercise allowed infantry, engineer, military police, support and armored units to work together to accomplish various missions over the course of a 4-day battle. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Terra C. Gatti, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

FORT PICKETT, Va. – With upwards of three feet of snow covering the ground at home, approximately 1,500 Canadian Army reservists forming Task Force Phoenix descended upon Fort Pickett Jan. 2 to escape the sub-zero temperatures and to conduct a four-day collective training event, called Exercise Noble Guerrier (Noble Warrior) 13. The task force brought together Soldiers from 20 different units from across Quebec, all from the Montreal-based 34th Canadian Brigade Group and the Quebec City-based 35th Canadian Brigade Group.

Exercise Noble Warrior is a culminating training event for the reservists, designed to validate and test the skills learned and sharpened over the fall months, during which the soldiers came together for eight days, over four weekends, to train collectively.

“The only time we have to bring everybody together and to confirm the training they’ve done in the fall, is in January,” explained Task Force Phoenix’s chief of staff, Lt. Col. Richard Moffet. “If we tried to do this training in the austere conditions up north, it would be about survival, so that’s why we’re coming down to the States to hopefully have better weather and to do whatever it is we need to do.”

In order to evaluate the exercise, Task Force Phoenix deployed to Fort Pickett with staff from the Alberta-based Canadian Maneuver Training Center.

“They’re responsible for the quality control of collective training throughout the Canadian Army,” said Moffet of the Canadian MTC. “They can evaluate what we’ve been doing compared to others and then we can get a feel for what we need to improve on and what our strengths are. It’s great to have someone from the outside who can tell us if we’re there or not.”

Along with ensuring competency in training tasks, the Noble Warrior exercise also allowed infantry, engineer, military police, logistics and armored units, among others, to work together to accomplish various missions over the course of the 4-day battle. The chance to work collectively with fellow soldiers from different military specialties is one rarely afforded to the Canadian reservists.

“Usually back home we practice at a company level, and this is our chance to practice at a higher level,” said Lt. Hovig Maghakian, of Montreal and the 34th CBG’s Black Watch (Royal Highlanders of Canada). “We’ve been working with logistics and military police for the first time in a long time and we’re working with the engineers as well, trying to get them integrated with us.”

“It’s about working together with all the different groups that are on the battlefield,” said Moffet. “It’s about understanding the strengths and weaknesses of the various elements so you know how to employ them collectively on the battlefield.”
During the exercise, soldiers of Task Force Phoenix not only enjoyed the mild Virginia winter temperatures, but also the diverse and state-of-the-art training and range facilities available at Fort Pickett.

“This is stuff we don’t have an opportunity to do back home,” said Maghakian. “But over here, because of all the great facilities here, it’s very easy to do training like this and it’s a good opportunity for us to work with other elements and forces that we usually don’t have a chance to at home.”

Moffet was especially impressed with the legendary southern hospitality he encountered during his time at Fort Pickett. “I’d say people from the south are very warm and very welcoming,” he said. “Fort Pickett has been absolutely great.”

Task Force Phoenix wrapped up their four-day exercise Jan. 7 and headed back to north Jan. 9-10.

“At the end of the day, we’re developing leaders,” Moffet said. “They’ve all learned something here that they wouldn’t learn in their normal daily life.”

More on this event:

Photos: Canadian Army reservists conduct large-scale exercise at Fort Pickett — Jan. 7, 2012

Canadian Army reservists to take part in a large scale exercise at Fort Pickett — Jan. 4, 2013

34 Groupe-brigade du Canada/34 Canadian Brigade Group (Facebook Page)