Posted by Doug Fleming on Jun 14, 2017
Monday's speaker was Major Hugh Atwell, Chief of Staff at Canadian Forces Base Suffield. Major Atwell started his speech by suggesting that although not specifically mention in the latest 2017 Defense Policy, the base is optimistic that improvements and increased spending will occur at Suffield.  Major Atwell reported the mission for CFB Suffield is to provide a world class facility to support:
  • DRES - Defense Research Establishment Suffield
  • Military Training - BATUS - British Army Training  Unit Suffield 
  • Oil & Gas Activities
  • Grazing 
  • Protect Environmental & Archeological sites.
Major Atwell explained the Suffield Range is the largest  Military Base in Canada covering an area of approximately 2,700 sq km.   In fact, the next 3 largest bases in Canada would all fit within the Suffield range.  He advised that the base has a positive economic impact on the region as it contributes close to $8.6 million per year. The Suffield Range provides opportunities for training that are not found in many locations. 
Major Atwell expanded on some of the roles the military plays at Suffield. First of all, they support DRES - Defense Research Establishment Suffield which undertake important research to mitigate risk to military and civilian personnel by conducting research into chemical & biological warfare and research into the use of unmanned vehicle. Research conducted at Suffield has played important roles throughout the world. 
The prime task for the military is to support the Suffield range. The British Government leases the range which is the largest military training facility in the Commonwealth to conduct military training exercises such as live firing exercises for up to 50 tanks and other military hardware. CFB Suffield is also used for joint training by NATO and other Foreign Allied  armies. The range allows the armies to test of new techniques and technologies.
Not all the Suffield range is used for military training. Portions of the range are set aside for grazing (3,500 cow/calf pairs); oil & gas facilities (12,00 wells) and the preservation of Ecological (River Valley) and Archeological sites (Medicine Wheels & Teepee Rings).  To protect the environment, maintain safety and prevent conflict, satellite images and ground crews are employed to review the range. There prime objective is to maintain the overall health of the range and minimize barren ground. 
As if that isn't enough, they are also involved in Elk Management. In 1997 - 221 elk were introduced to the range.  Over the years, the numbers has grown to around 5,300 animals. Major Atwell advised there are differing views on the impact of the elk on the range and surrounding area and also how  the herds should be culled. Major Atwell advised that these decisions are made by Environment & Parks Departments rather than the military.
Major Atwell answered a few questions and was thank by President Uwe who paraphrased Winston Churchill when he thank the Canadian Military by saying "never has so much been done with so little".