Troops point to details on a map inside the tactical operations centre. (Jenna Hauck/ The Progress)

Military testing wildfire response in Rocky Mountain House this weekend

Exercise Grizzly Ready brings municipal staff and military together to prepare for a wildfire

Army reservists from across Alberta will join forces in Rocky Mountain House this weekend to hone their wildfire response skills.

Exercise Grizzly Ready will see around 40 members of 41 Canadian Brigade Group, which includes all of Alberta’s army reserve units including Red Deer’s, practise their response and co-ordination with municipalities — Clearwater County and Town of Rocky Mountain House in this scenario.

While mostly a tabletop exercise, the military sent out a public service announcement so as not to alarm residents who may be wondering why there are military vehicles and uniformed soldiers suddenly appearing in town, said Capt. Derrick Forsythe, public affairs officer for Exercise Grizzly Ready.

“The reason we sent out the (public service announcement) is because when our advance party went up to look around just to check out the ground before the exercise, there was like four people in one army vehicle and that caused a bit of a stir in Rocky Mountain House,” he said.

There were likely be eight to 10 military vehicles in Rocky Mountain House for the exercise that starts on Friday and runs until early Sunday afternoon.

“We just don’t want people to get nervous or concerned that they’re seeing the Canadian Armed Forces in their community.”

The exercise will test the military’s response, as well as giving the municipalities a chance to run through their emergency management plans.

“We’re training to integrate with civilian organizations when a domestic situation arises,” he said.

“We send troops, not infrequently, to places like B.C. and Saskatchewan, to help with wildfires in the summer.”

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