Surf to sand during amphibious exercise

Amphibious Scout Team 1 swims ashore

Laden with gear, Amphibious Scout Team 1 swims ashore during littoral exercises off Metchosin.

When spending a sunny spring day at the beach, one seldom expects to see groups of armed military personnel trudge up out of the surf.
That’s what beach-side revellers in Metchosin would have seen last week as military members from the U.S. and Canada performed amphibious littoral exercises.

“Littoral exercises take our troops from the wet to the dry,” said Lt(N) Michael St-Pierre of Fleet Diving Unit (Pacific) (FDU(P)). “This is a brand new type of exercise for the Canadian military. We’re writing a whole new book here.”

The exercise was part of Jointex 2013, the first in a series of nation-wide joint training and readiness events designed to change how the Canadian Armed Forces train, develop and learn to prepare for future operations.. It also marked the start of Trident Fury 2013, a biennial and joint naval exercise hosted by Maritime Forces Pacific and conducted with the United States.

Boats laden with FDU(P) Clearance Divers and Canadian Army Patrol Pathfinders from the Royal 22 Regiment of Valcartier, Québec zipped up the coast towards Race Rocks and Royal Beach. Once they reached their embankment points they tumbled into the water, gear and all. From there it was a 30-metre swim to the beach, where they set up a perimeter, doffed their aquatic gear and transitioned to land-based operations.

The mixed group of navy and army members is being called Amphibious Scout Teams (AST), a newly formed type of task group created to address the stark division of labour found between marine and land-based operations.

“The skills needed for those two kinds of operations don’t overlap, so we came up with a composite team to bridge the gap,” said Maj Chris Comeau, the lead Army planner for Jointex Stage 5. “We created a team of clearance divers, army patrol pathfinders, and very shallow water divers to cover all aspects of the operation.”

The AST is conducting this training in preparation for the live exercise occurring May 16 to 18. The teams will conduct beach landing site reconnaisance in the middle of the night, wearing night vision goggles. The exercise ends on May 19.

-Shawn O’Hara, Staff Writer

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