About 75 soldiers from the 3rd Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry flew to Latvia on Friday to take part in Exercise Saber Strike 2014.
The predominantly airborne military exercise, which will include a parachuting component, will be taking place in eastern and central Europe until June 21.
During that time, troops will visit Poland, Estonia and Lithuania.
The goal of the operation is to give the PPCLI a chance to practise working alongside other allied nations including the U.S., U.K., Denmark, Norway and Finland.
“Nobody fights alone, so it’s important we continue to train with our allies so that we can fight with our allies much like we did for 10 long, hard years in Afghanistan,” said Brigadier-General Dave Anderson on Friday afternoon.
“Plus, let’s face it, it’s probably a lot more fun to go on an exercise in eastern europe than it is to go to Wainright one more time,” he added.
In total, 2,000 soldiers will participate in Exercise Saber Strike, which was organized by the U.S. military.
A significant time
Sending a Canadian delegation to participate in the international exercise affirms the country’s commitment to its NATO allies, said James Rajotte, the MP for Edmonton–Leduc.
“It’s particularly important at this time, with the aggression we’ve seen by Russia over the past number of months towards it neighbour, Ukraine, in terms of not respecting the territorial integrity of that country.”
The timing is also significant in that Friday marks the 70 year anniversary since Allied forces stormed the beaches of Normandy.
- D-Day 70th anniversary: World leaders pay tribute to veterans
- D-Day 70th anniversary: CBC readers share stories of the invasion
- D-Day Live: The historic invasion in real time
“It’s kind of interesting that we’re doing that today of all days on the sixth of June, commemorating in fact, a very significant airborne drop as part of Operation Overlord for D-Day,” said Anderson.
“I’ve stood on those beaches, and my first impression was that those were not men – those were supermen,” said Anderson, calling the experience ‘extraordinary’ and ‘humbling.’