From May 1 until May 11, approximately 2,500 Canadian Armed Forces (CAF, Forces armées canadiennes) personnel will take part in Exercise MAPLE RESOLVE 21 in Wainwright, Alberta. Exercise MAPLE RESOLVE is the Canadian Army’s largest and most complex annual training exercise. This essential event ensures Canadian soldiers are prepared to deploy in support of Canadians in any capacity, including combat operations. Over the course of the pandemic, the Canadian Army has demonstrated it can responsibly conduct essential training in a persistent COVID-19 environment. This has been completed through strict adherence to a layered risk mitigation strategy, which will continue to be firmly enforced.
Exercise participation has been reduced by about 50% this year, with most soldiers originating from and remaining in Alberta. Most soldiers participating in Exercise MAPLE RESOLVE 21 are from 1 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group (1 CMBG). 1 CMBG has units in Edmonton, Alberta, and Shilo, Manitoba. The Royal Canadian Air Force will provide an Air Task Force to support Canadian Army training operations during the exercise. This will include two CH-147F Chinook and eight CH-146 Griffon helicopters, an MPN-25 radar and approximately 400 personnel. A CP-140 Aurora is also participating in the exercise, along with a detachment of three UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters from the Wisconsin Army National Guard. A Royal Canadian Air Force CC-130J Hercules and BE-350 King Air are supporting with transport of personnel and equipment.
While this annual exercise is historically a key event to practice interoperability with foreign partners, international participation will be strictly limited this year. Roughly 30 air medevac personnel from the Wisconsin National Guard and a 150-person light infantry company from the British Army are participating. All foreign personnel have quarantined 14 days and arrived in Canada with a negative COVID-19 PCR test. As outlined in Strong, Secure, Engaged: Canada’s Defence Policy, participation in this exercise ensures Canadian Army soldiers are ready to be mobilized as a brigade to respond to crises throughout the full spectrum of operations alongside Canada’s close allies and partners.
In 2020, the Commander of the Canadian Army made the conscious decision to cancel Exercise MAPLE RESOLVE; the risk of perpetuating the spread of COVID-19 within the defence team and to Canadian communities was unacceptable in light of the ongoing public health crisis. This cancellation also allowed the Canadian Army to sequester and isolate personnel in order to provide personnel should provincial or federal requests for military assistance be approved (as later demonstrated by Canadian Armed Forces deployments into Long Term Care Facilities during the first wave of the pandemic).