Exercise Ardent Defender


A member of a Canadian Armed Forces Explosive Ordnance Disposal team inspects a simulated improvised explosive device at Victoria International Airport as part of Exercise Ardent Defender.

For the past two weeks, over 175 personnel from the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), 11 partner nations, and civilian law enforcement agencies gathered at CF Ammunition Depot Rocky Point and locations around Greater Victoria to observe and practice military bomb disruption techniques.

At the heart of the two week exercise, dubbed Ardent Defender, were potential real life scenarios such as a threat to mass transit.

“Every country has seen the potential devastation of IEDs (improved explosive devices) on mass transit. All you need to do is turn on a TV,” said CPO1 Rob DeProy, a planner for the exercise.

“So we need to evolve with the threat. With Ardent Defender, we’re doing that by sharing our techniques with our civilian agencies and with other countries. We’re teaching at the same time as we are learning.”  

Over the two weeks, teams from military bomb disposal units across Canada had the opportunity to improve their readiness to counter explosive threats, and test their specialized equipment in a variety of scenarios, including a simulated attack on 443 MH Squadron and a bomb scare on a B.C. ferry, and on B.C. Transit buses.

Within those scenarios, local police and ferry staff were able to test their response to a bomb threat, and work with their military counterparts in the search and disabling of located IEDs.  

During the first week of Ardent Defender at the Rocky Point demolition range, observer nations (Austria, Mexico, New Zealand and Poland) watched as Canadian, Australian, Belgian, Dutch, Swedish, American and  British military set-up, blew up, and impeded IEDs.

During one exercise, makeshift bombs were placed on the range, including one placed in the trunk of a parked car, and a collective 8.2 kilograms of explosives placed in garbage cans within a large metal sea container.

EOD experts each showcased their bomb disruption techniques on the IEDs, such as using water to disturb the circuity of a bomb, or a remotely operated vehicle to get a close up look at the device.

“The IEDs placed in the targets were based on real world threats, like the pressure cooker IED attempted threat in the legislature building a few years ago,” said CPO1 DeProy.

Onlookers took refuge in the protective concrete observation huts in the safety zone, bracing themselves as echoing booms thundered through the air as each IED was disrupted.

Once the smoke cleared, observers examined the explosion sites, taking note of the damage done to the container, car, and the ground surrounding the pressure cooker.

Ardent Defender is in its third year and according to Maj Terry Evoy, an exercise planner, the most ambitious so far.

“The exercise has already gained an international reputation as we can tell by the increasing number of diverse partners. More of our NATO colleagues have also expressed interest in being involved,” he said.  

The exercise ended June 5.

Rachel Lallouz
Staff Writer

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