Two nations teamed up together when Canadian Forces were on the ground and Minot Air Force Base crews in B-52 bombers were in the air for simulated bomb drop training.
"This is a training for both the bomber crews and the Canadian military members," said Lt. Col. Michael Cardoza, commander of the 69th Bomb Squadron at Minot AFB, explaining the training that began Tuesday morning. The 69th is Minot's second and newest squadron of B-52s.
"This is really valuable training for bomber crews," Cardoza said. "We're doing training with our advanced targeting pods and also training on working with ground parties to find the target for us, to find the areas of interest that we can look at."
Eloise Ogden/MDN --
Canadian Forces’ members, from the left, Master Bombadiers Andrew Burhoe and Michael MacIntyre observe the target area from their post on the ground. In the back is Warrant Officer Todd Buchanan, also of Canadian Forces.
He and several other members of the 69th were observing the operation on the ground.
When the training began Tuesday morning six members of the Canadian Forces were situated by the Mindt Construction building, which is on a hill overlooking the southeast area of Minot. From there, members of the Canadian Forces, using their communication equipment, were in contact with B-52 crews flying high above.
"We are the eyes on the ground for the aircraft," said Capt. Candice Dunn, an eight-year member of Canadian Forces from Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. "We give them target information they need to get them to the right targets,"
However, no live munitions were used for this training.
Capt. Trevor Pellerine, commander of 1st Regiment Royal Canadian Horse Artillery, B Battery, from Canadian Forces Base Shilo at Brandon, Man., said what they were practicing with the Minot AFB aircrews Joint Terminal Attack Control or JTAC capability which also is useful for their deployments.
Pellerine said all six of the Canadian Forces members in Minot for the training, including himself, have been deployed. "Every one of us here in this party got back from Afghanistan the last tour was in 2008," he said.
He said training like this has been done before in Canada, with the U.S. bombers coming there and dropping bombs at Shilo. "But this is the first time we've had a chance to come down here and actually meet the pilots face to face and work some SOP's standard operating procedures some drills and that sort of thing," he said.
Pellerine said that later on they are planning to do more work with the Minot AFB forces. He said they're hoping the U.S. crews can come to their base in June for a tactical exercise.
"It's good training," said Dunn, who spent seven months in Afghanistan. She said she's done trainings similar to this before. "I've been in JTAC for over a year now so we've gone on a couple exercises down in the states. This is my first time here in Minot," she said.
Pellerine said they go on quite a few deployments but their deployments are shorter. "Our deployments are usually around seven months," he said. He said a few of those in Minot for the training are expecting to be deployed again in a few months so the training in Minot is getting them ready for it.
Canadian Forces participating in the training were Warrant Officer Todd Buchanan, Capt. Dave Ferrera, Master Bombadier Andrew Burhoe, Master Bombadier Michael MacIntyre, Dunn and Pellerine.
Pellerine said it's great to come to Minot to work with the B-52 crews because Canada has only one aircraft capable of this type of work. "That's the F-18s the same things you guys have," he said.
"We like to come down here because the Americans have so many more types of aircraft. We don't have any bombers... This is completely a different look at things before we have to go over and see it in theater," he said.
Shiloh is a small base with one infantry battalion and one artillery regiment, plus support staff, Pellerine said. The base is located about three hours from Minot. "It's a 20-minute plane ride," Pellerine added.
After the first part of the training with two B-52s, Cardoza said, "It was a success."
The training was held Tuesday and Wednesday.