U.K. troops to continue training at CFB Suffield
The British are staying at Alberta base after considering a move to Germany
The British Army will continue its longstanding practice of training at CFB Suffield in southeastern Alberta, officials announced Monday.
After conducting training exercises at the base about 50 kilometres northwest of Medicine Hat for four decades, U.K. officials had been looking into moving its operations to a base in Germany.
But Col. Jim Landon, Commander of the British Army training unit (BATUS), confirmed at a press conference on Monday morning that his soldiers are staying at CFB Suffield.
There will be belt-tightening though, he said.
"This does not mean that we continue with business as usual. The British Army has observed that training at BATUS costs a considerable amount of money,” Landon said.
The British military spends almost $250 million on its CFB Suffield operation. It's not clear yet where the cost savings will come from.
The British Army’s training facilities at Suffield include mock Afghan villages — with civilians played by Afghan-Canadians — where soldiers practice tank maneuvers and train for mortar attacks.
"In terms of the realism you can generate, it is the closest you can get to being on real operations,” said Maj. Charlie Chuter, who has been part of the British Army training unit for three years.
Blake Pedersen, MLA for Medicine Hat, said the base brings important economic spin-offs to the area.
"So the busier they are, the more battle groups they run, the more elaborate their battle training is, of course the more money that would be spent in the area."