Exercise Sweetbriar
Publication:
The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 30 Mar 1950, p. 276-293


Description
Creator:
Solandt, Omond McKillop, Speaker
Media Type:
Text
Item Type:
Speeches
Description:
The speaker addresses the audience in the place of the Honourable Brooke Claxton, Minister of National Defence, who was attending the meeting of North Atlantic Defence Ministers at The Hague. First, a tribute to the memory of the late Laurence Steinhardt, the United States Ambassador to Canada. "Exercise Sweetbriar" an Exercise to test Canadian and United States Armed Forces in the field under sub-Arctic conditions. A brief outline of the main features of the Exercise. Then, a more detailed consideration of a few of the lessons that came out of the Exercise. The main object of the Exercise to develop doctrine and procedures for the employment of combined Canadian and U.S. forces operating in the sub-Arctic and to test in the field the latest developments in clothing, food, aircraft, vehicles, weapons and other equipment and material. Some details of the operation. The geographical setting and climate of the Exercise. Conclusions dealing with the general problems of the Exercise as a whole, then more specifically with ground problems, and finally with air problems. What the Exercise as a whole demonstrated in terms of problems of Arctic and sub-Arctic defence, most of which are human problems. Details of troop training. Basic problems of living in the Arctic. How terrain, rather than logistics, appeared to limit the number of men that could actually engage the enemy at any one time. Specific problems encountered by the Army. Improvements for weapons and equipment. The need to increase the mobility of the ground forces, and recommendations as to how this could be accomplished. The problem of longer radio links between units on the ground. The experience of the Air Force producing no new or unexpected problems. Some details of the aircraft involved, and the servicing of them in the open. Main problems encountered in the air those of communication and navigation. A summary of "Exercise Sweetbriar." A summary of general lessons learned dealing with clothing, food, personal equipment, individual training and leadership of ground-force troops, vehicles, the role of the Air Force, etc. The most important single lesson that of a renewed demonstration of the ease with which Canadians and Americans can work together in harmony.
Date of Original:
30 Mar 1950
Subject(s):
Language of Item:
English
Copyright Statement:
The speeches are free of charge but please note that the Empire Club of Canada retains copyright. Neither the speeches themselves nor any part of their content may be used for any purpose other than personal interest or research without the explicit permission of the Empire Club of Canada.
Contact
Empire Club of Canada
Email
WWW address
Agency street/mail address

Fairmont Royal York Hotel

100 Front Street West, Floor H

Toronto, ON, M5J 1E3

Full Text
EXERCISE SWEETBRIAR
AN ADDRESS BY OMOND McKILLOP SOLANDT, O.B.E., M.A., D.Sc., M.D., M.R.C.P., F.R.S.C.
CHAIRMAN, DEFENCE RESEARCH BOARD, OTTAWA, ONT.
Chairman: First Vice-President, Mr. Sydney Hermant
Thursday, March 30th, 1950

MR. HERMANT:

Members and Guests of The Empire Club of Canada We are to hear an Address today by Dr. O. M. Solandt,. O.B.E., Chairman of the Defence Research Board, Ottawa. Born in Winnipeg, Dr. Solandt moved to Toronto where his Father was the head of the United Church Publishing House. He graduated in Medicine as Gold Medalist from the University of Toronto, where he played on the Senior Intercollegiate Football Team. Dr. Solandt then spent two years doing Post Graduate Research under Dr. C. H. Best in the Dept. of Physiology. He also undertook further Research at Cambridge University, and at the London Hospital, England. In January, 1941, he was appointed Director of the Medical Research Council Physiological Laboratory at the Armoured Fighting Vehicle School. He was later appointed Superintendent of the Army Operational Research Group with the Rank of Colonel. In 1945 he was selected as Director of the Operational Research Division South-East Asia Command. At the end of the War he was immediately appointed by the War Office as a Member of the Military Mission sent to Japan to evaluate the effects of the atomic Bomb. For his distinguished service he was awarded the O.B.E. in the King's Birthday Honours List in 1946, and the United States Medal of Freedom with Bronze Palm in 1947. As Chairman of the Defence Research Board he is the scientific member of the Chiefs of Staff Committee and the Defence Council. All Canadians and particularly those of us who are Graduates of our great University of Toronto are proud of Dr. Solandt and we are greatly indebted to him for his devotion to the Cause of our Empire and our Country. He was personally present at "Exercise Sweetbriar" just concluded, and is going to speak to us on that subject today.

DR. SOLANDT:

As I shall explain in a moment, I am speaking to you today on "Exercise Sweetbriar" in the place of the Honourable Brooke Claxton, Minister of National Defence, who is attending the meeting of North Atlantic Defence Ministers at The Hague. I know that if Mr. Claxton were here, he would begin his account of this joint Exercise by paying tribute to the memory of the late Laurence Steinhardt, the United States Ambassador to Canada.

Mr. Steinhardt was Mr. Claxton's guest on the visit to "Sweetbriar" that I shall describe. As always, he was the "life of the party". He was a man of boundless energy, insatiable curiosity, great intelligence and irresistible personal charm. You all know of his accomplishments as a lawyer and a diplomat, but only those who had the privilege of knowing him personally realize what a really great man he was. He devoted his whole energy and intelligence to each job that he undertook. "Exercise Sweetbriar" was no exception. He met more people and learned more about them and their jobs than did any other observer on the Exercise and yet he did it all in a simple, direct, friendly way that won every heart. He always preferred to be called Larry, or Laurence, rather than Your Excellency.

Since 1933, he had represented the United States in some of the most troubled parts of the world. In every post his complete devotion to duty, his vast knowledge and his vibrant personality overcame all difficulties. He not only served his own country well, but also did a great deal to improve international relations and to support freedom and democracy throughout the world.

When he came to Canada, he concentrated on getting to know us and our problems. Within a few months he became one of the ablest and best informed exponents of the Canadian point of view and he vigorously expounded it to Washington.

His tragic death is a sad loss to his family and his friends; to Canada and the United States and to the cause of freedom throughout the world. In these troubled times, we can ill-afford to lose a man with such vast experience, broad tolerance and genuine effective interest in world affairs. He will be greatly missed by his family and friends and by all who worked with him or came under the influence of his dynamic personality.

A short time ago, your President approached the Honourable Brooke Claxton, Minister of National Defence, to see if he would address this Club on the subject of "Exercise Sweetbriar". Unfortunately for you, Mr. Claxton had to go to Europe to attend a meeting of the North Atlantic Defence Ministers. He therefore suggested that one of the Chiefs of Staff should substitute for him. General Foulkes, the Chief of the General Staff and Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee, has gone to Europe with the Minister; Air Marshal Curtis, the Chief of the Air Staff, has been on Sick Leave; Admiral Grant, the Chief of the Naval Staff, was not directly concerned with, and did not visit "Exercise Sweetbriar", and therefor, your invitation was passed on to me.

I have mentioned this, not to complain of having the task passed to me, because I consider it a very great honour, but to emphasize to you that "Exercise Sweet briar" was an Exercise to test Canadian and United States Armed Forces in the field under sub-Arctic conditions, and was not, except in a very minor way, a research project. It will naturally suggest a good many subjects for research and much of the information derived from it will be of value to research workers, but research was not the primary object of any part of the Exercise.

I am therefore speaking to you today, not as Chairman of the Defence Research Board, but merely as an official of the Department of National Defence, who had the good fortune to attend a part of the Exercise and has therefore been called on to speak to you in the absence of the Minister.

I must also warn you that I am speaking to you, more as an observer of the Exercise, than as a scientist. Scientists are quite rightly expected to deal only with facts. In this case, many of the most important facts are not yet available. They will not be available until the reports of observers are completely available and have been fully analyzed. I am therefore giving you, in many cases, personal opinions, instead of facts. I have checked the opinions as carefully as I can and think that they are correct,, but you must realize that none of them can be regarded as the final word; only the facts count in matters of this kind.

Since most of you will already have read a good deal about the Exercise, I will not bore you with a detailed description of it. I shall merely give a brief outline of the main features of the Exercise in order to refresh your memory, and will then go on to a more detailed consideration of a few of the lessons that came out of the Exercise.

The main object of the Exercise was to develop doctrine and procedures for the employment of combined Canadian and U.S. forces operating in the sub-Arctic, and to test in the field the latest developments in clothing, food, aircraft, vehicles, weapons and other equipment and material. It also provided a most important opportunity for gaining experience in joint and combined planning and in truly integrated Canada-United States and ArmyAir Force Command.

The Exercise began on February 13th and concluded on February 23rd. Over 5,000 personnel of the United States and Canadian Armies and Air Forces took part, nearly one-half being Canadians. The tactical assumption was that an Aggressor force had captured the airfield at Northway in Alaska, and had moved down the Northwest Highway, almost the whole three hundred and fifty miles to Whitehorse. The task of the Allied Force was to drive the Aggressor back and recapture Northway. In preparation for the Exercise, the great majority of 1,457 Canadian Army personnel had trained at Wainwright, under even more severe conditions than those prevailing during the Exercise. The period of training covered about seven weeks. The actual Exercise lasted for eleven days and during the whole of this period, the troops lived out under severe winter conditions. Some idea of the size and complexity of the operation is given by the fact that more than 978 motor vehicles and 100 aircraft took part in it.

Before going on to a brief narrative of the Exercise, a few words about geography may help you to understand the setting of the Exercise.

The terrain of Northern North America can be very approximately divided into two types of country; the true Arctic, north of the tree-line, including both the Arctic barrens and the mountain ranges of the Eastern Arctic, and the sub-Arctic treed area, which again, includes both the treed plain of Northern Manitoba and Saskatchewan and the Northwest Territories and the mountainous regions of Northern British Columbia, the Yukon and Southern Alaska. The problems of living and moving in the different types of terrain are very different. Life in the treed areas is never as difficult as life in the barrens, since a certain degree of shelter is always available and the trees supply fuel. On the other hand, movement in the treed areas may be much more difficult than in the barrens.

The whole of "Exercise Sweetbriar" took place in the treed area of the sub-Arctic, between the ranges of the Rocky Mountains. It is an area of extremely low temperatures, but comparatively light winds. The airfield at Snag, which is in the northern part of the area covered by the Exercise, achieved the lowest recorded temperature of 81' F. in February, 1947. In considering the effects of northern weather on military operations, it is important to remember that men and machines do not always react similarly to cold. Under ordinary outdoor conditions, man supplies his own heat. He is therefore more sensitive to rate of heat loss than to actual temperature. Heat loss is greatly accelerated by a wind, so that a man may be much more uncomfortable in a high wind at 20° below zero than he is with no wind at 50 below zero. Machines that are not producing heat behave just oppositely. They are more affected by a temperature at 50-° below than one of 20°, and are not much affected by wind. It is therefore to be expected that warfare among the mountains of the Yukon would be harder on machines, and less hard on men, than would warfare in the Arctic barrens. Experience on the Exercise in general supported this view, though both men and machines stood up extremely well to the conditions that were encountered.

The geographical setting of the Exercise was also unusual in that it lay along the only road system in North America that extends almost to the Arctic Circle, and that, throughout most of the Exercise area, the road traverses a defile in the mountains that sharply limits the rapid deployment of ground forces.

With this brief outline of geography and climate as a background, I shall now refresh your memory of the events of the Exercise by giving a short account of the adventures of Mr. Claxton's party during their visit to the area.

The party left Ottawa in an RCAF North Star at 11:00 a.m. Monday, February 20th. We stopped overnight in Edmonton and landed at Whitehorse in the Yukon Territory, the base of the Allied Forces in the Exercise, about noon on Tuesday, the 21st. We had then travelled over 2,700 miles from Ottawa. At Whitehorse we saw the Command Organization for the Allied Force and inspected Fighter, Bomber and Transport Units of both the U.S. and Canadian Air Forces. We also had discussions with Major General M.H.S. Penhale, General Officer Commanding of Western Command and Air Vice Marshal C. R. Dunlap, Air Officer Commanding of North West Air Command, who were directly responsible for the Canadian participation in the Exercise. The following day we flew to Northway, in Alaska, about 275 air miles to the northwest. There we visited the advanced Headquarters of the Aggressor force, learned their plans for the defence of the airfield, and inspected some of their troops, including anti-aircraft and radar units. We then crossed "No-Man's-Land" and drove back toward Whitehorse, along the Alaska Highway, stopping to inspect various units of the Allied Forces as we met them along the road. The first ones encountered were the infantry of the PPCLI and the gunners of the RCHA. They were deployed beside the road leading to the airfield at Northway, preparing for an attack the next day. The observer party had reached this point in the Exercise, after two days of extremely comfortable travel in well-heated aircraft. The troops of the PPCLI had reached it after a drive of nearly 1500 miles from Wainwright to Whitehorse, followed by ten days of stiff fighting up the 350 miles of highway from Whitehorse to Northway. During the whole of this period, they had slept and eaten in their tents, or in the open. All buildings were out of bounds to them. When we met them, it was a bright sunny day, with the temperature about 10 below zero. All the officers and men that we met and talked to were cheerful, alert and enthusiastic. They obviously had the upper hand in the struggle with their environment, and felt confident that they would be equally successful in the final battle with the Aggressor. From this point, we drove about one hundred miles back down the Highway to Camp O'Hara. During this drive, we stopped to talk to each Unit that we met, and so had the opportunity of brief discussions with an American Artillery Unit, equipped with 105 mm. field guns; with Units of Combat Team "A", U.S. Infantry, which was just starting a flanking movement through the bush to surround the airfield; and with the advanced headquarters, which was controlling both Army and Air operations. The twin Mustangs of the Aggressor Air Force, based in Fairbanks, also cooperated by making a low-level attack on our cars. Had this been a real attack in war, it would have greatly accelerated promotions in both the RCAF and the Canadian Army. During this drive down the Highway, I had the great good fortune to travel with Lieutenant General Chamberlin, the Commanding General of the Fifth U.S. Army, who was the overall Commander of the Exercise. Anyone who knows General Chamberlin, will know what a pleasant and informative companion he is. I am sure that his personal charm and competence were very considerable factors in effecting the excellent relationship between Canadian and U.S. forces, which was one of the outstanding features of the whole Exercise. As several cynics remarked, the cooperation between the two Air Forces or between the two Armies, was sometimes better than the relationships between the Army and Air Force of either country.

In such a complex and novel undertaking, there are bound to be important differences of opinion, which will sometimes lead to heated arguments. We were assured, and our own observations confirmed this assurance, that the lines for arguments were never drawn on a national basis. Each man supported his own view regardless of nationality.

When we had passed through the last of the attacking troops, General Chamberlin left us to return to Northway and Mr. Claxton's party continued down the Highway to Camp O'Hara. There, we were most comfortably fed and accommodated in a staging camp which had been prepared for use by the troops on their return journey from the Exercise. We were up early the next morning to drive to Snag Airfield and to fly from there to Northway, where we arrived in time to take up a position on the edge of a nearby lake to watch the parachute drop by "C" Company of Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry. This airborne attack was combined with artillery fire and enveloping infantry attacks in the final assault on the airfield at Northway.

It was a thrilling sight to see the Dakota transports of the RCAF approach in perfect formation and to watch the troops pile out in neat, close-packed sticks. It took little imagination to visualize the long months of training that led up to this apparently effortless perfection.

Soon after landing, the paratroops assembled and began their advance toward the hangar and the Aggressor camp on the edge of the airfield. Quite a few of the less experienced observers commented very unfavourably on the slackness of some of the men who just lay about on the ice and made no effort to join in the attack. It was a little embarrassing, but reassuring, to discover that these unfortunates had been declared dead by the umpires and were merely awaiting "burial".

The troops of the U.S. Combat Team "A" and of the PPCLI later attacked the outer defenses of the airfield as we watched from the roof of the hangar. Shortly before noon, the Exercise was declared over. Mr. Claxton then made a very brief, but extremely popular speech, in which he congratulated everyone on the conduct of the Exercise and announced the granting of an extra week's leave to all those who had participated.

The preparations that we saw at Northway and later at Whitehorse, for the termination of the Exercise, were almost as impressive as those for its conduct. The hangar at Northway had been prepared to house and feed up to 3000 men. It was completely equipped with showers and even had a PX. Arrangements had also been made to start the airlift of troops from Northway back to their bases in Canada and the United States within a few hours of the completion of the Exercise. By the time that we arrived back at Whitehorse, a fleet of four-engined transport aircraft had left for Northway, and before dark, more than eight hundred men had been flown out to Whitehorse, Edmonton and other dispersal points. Thus ended a most successful Exercise and a most enjoyable and informative trip for the observers.

As you will see, I have not attempted to review m detail the progress of the Exercise, but merely to sketch some of the highlights to refresh your memory. I will now go on to outline a few of the important lessons learned from the Exercise and a few problems that have arisen in the course of it. I must emphasize again that these lessons are not the official ones that will result from a careful study of all the reports, but are merely my personal views which are inevitably coloured by my own experience in science and also by my very brief visit to the Exercise. I feel quite sure that if I had actually lived with the Forces throughout the whole Exercise, my opinions would be much less definite and clear-cut. I am rather in the position of the man who has visited a strange country for three days; he can then write a book on the country with the greatest self-confidence, whereas if he had stayed for three months or three years, he would begin to be less certain about his conclusions and would probably write a much less interesting and much more informative book.

These comments on the lessons and problems of the Exercise take the form of a series of rather disconnected paragraphs, each dealing with a single main subject. This seems to be the only way of covering such a broad field in the time available.

The first conclusions deal with the general problems of the Exercise as a whole, the next deal more specifically with ground problems, and the last group with air problems.

The Exercise, as a whole, once again demonstrated the fact that the main problems of Arctic and sub-Arctic defence are human problems. Even quite experienced troops when first sent to the Arctic, lack confidence in their ability to beat the problems they encounter. If such men are sent away from their main base to undertake some military task, they will not succeed in their task, and may not even survive. They must first be specially trained and equipped to meet the entirely non-military hazards of their new environment. With moderately good training and equipment they will be able to survive in the Arctic in winter only if they concentrate during all their waking hours on the problems of providing food and shelter for themselves. If they are reasonably well equipped and trained, they will have a little time to spare for their military tasks. If they are superbly equipped and trained, are well led by officers in whom they have complete confidence, and if every moment of their time is carefully planned, they will then have quite a bit of time free from the main problem of existence to devote to their primary task of offensive or defensive fighting. Even at this stage, they will have to devote quite a bit of time, energy and a great deal of skill to solving the simple problems of living in the Arctic. It will therefore take them longer to accomplish any normal military task than would be the case in a less arduous climate. In War, the side which is able to devote the greatest proportion of its time to fighting, will win. Therefore, the basic problem of defence in the Arctic or sub-Arctic is to get the difficulties of eating, sleeping and travelling so well under control, that ample time is left in which to deal with the enemy. Even in a temperate climate, poorly trained or equipped soldiers may be fully occupied with the simple problems of living. In an Arctic climate, such troops would not survive, much less be able to fight. This importance of perfecting the technique of living in the Arctic is sometimes overlooked in a pre-occupation with the more glamourous problems of weapons, aircraft and vehicles for the Arctic. An important example of the importance of this outlook is seen in the case of Arctic clothing.

Troops must be trained to realize that their Arctic clothing is their own individual protection against climate hazards. They must see that it constitutes a complex machine which must be maintained and operated with care. They must learn how to control ventilation to avoid overheating during exercise, or overcooling during rest and to prevent the accumulation of ice. They must take every opportunity to dry their clothing and be sure that they adjust every item of personal equipment as carefully as they would a gun or radio set. There was every indication that the ground troops involved in "Exercise Sweetbriar" had successfully mastered these problems of living in the Arctic.

Many observers reported that, at the beginning of the Exercise, the Canadian troops were more confident of their ability to beat the weather than were the U.S. troops. This can certainly be attributed to the fact that the Canadian troops had, during their training at Wainwright, encountered temperatures down to 58° below zero. They knew they could survive such temperatures with reasonable comfort and so were very pleased with the more moderate 30° and 40° below temperatures encountered in the Yukon. The U.S. troops had unfortunately been unable to find such low temperatures in their training area in Colorado, and so they were at first uncertain of their ability to operate in temperatures of 40° below zero. They soon found that their training was sound and that these temperatures caused them no trouble.

I have emphasized the basic problems of living in the Arctic, because I think they are of primary importance to all Arms operating in the North. They are of less importance to the Air Force, than to the Army, since the Air Force will usually be operating from relatively large and reasonably well prepared bases. However, every member of the Air Force must be fully trained in the techniques of life in the Arctic, because at any moment, they may become essential to his survival.

The outstanding impression that a visitor to the Exercise received was a general one of quiet self-confidence and competence. Everyone that we met seemed sure of his knowledge and ability to deal with the problems that he was encountering. Every task that we saw performed was done competently, whether it was a long familiar task, such as flying an aeroplane, or driving a truck, or whether it was a novel task, such as planning and setting up defensive positions in deep snow. The fact that there were fewer real casualties from all causes, including frostbite, than is usual on Exercises on this scale in temperate climates, shows that this impression of competence was a correct one. Everyone really did know how to do his job and he did it enthusiastically and well.

The next general lesson of the Exercise was that air superiority is essential to ground operations in country of this sort. The ground forces were so road-bound that they were very vulnerable to daylight air attack. In areas where no roads exist, they would have to be made and the vulnerability to air attack would remain. In addition, the bases from which ground attacks can be launched in the North will always be relatively small and isolated and hence open to effective bombing by comparatively small forces. Many observers therefore concluded that most operations in the North should be carried out entirely by air, using paratroops, air transported ground units and air transport of all supplies. This again implies complete air superiority and further emphasizes the need for first-class long-range all-weather fighters for operation in the North. A few observers felt that enemy fighters could have been kept at bay by better ground anti-aircraft defences. I doubt if this is a reasonable solution to the problem in country where transport on the ground is so difficult. I think that anti-aircraft defence, except at very important bases, should be limited to small light weapons for immediate local protection and that the main reliance in dealing with enemy fighters should be placed on our own fighters.

In this Exercise, terrain, rather than logistics, appeared to limit the number of men that could actually engage the enemy at any one time. This may well not be generally true of Arctic and sub-Arctic operations, since in this case the supply situation was unusually good due to advance planning and stockpiling and deployment was exceptionally limited, not only by the terrain, but also by the speed of advance demanded by the plan of the Exercise and by the shortage of over-snow vehicles.

It is quite possible that in a real operation, supplies would not be so readily available and deployment would be better, so that logistic problems would limit the size of the ground forces.

Now a brief word about a few of the specific problems encountered by the Army.

Food, clothing and personal equipment, such as sleeping bags and tents, were in general, quite satisfactory, though a good many suggestions were made for minor improvements. The rations used were mainly American five in one rations, with certain supplements, and they were well liked by the troops. The only complaint that I heard was that too much tea was supplied! I suppose that this must be regarded as one of the aftermaths of World War II.

The weapons and equipment of the Army proved generally satisfactory, but the Exercise did disclose ways in which they could be improved. There was a very general feeling that the mobility of the ground forces must be increased. This could be done by providing more and better over-snow vehicles, that would be capable of operating off the roads and a very much larger proportion of bulldozers to pull sleds and to make roads for wheeled vehicles. The Canadian snowmobile, or Penguin, seemed to be the best of the over-snow vehicles for the conditions encountered during the Exercise. The Canadian Army has already begun to develop improved snowmobiles of the same type, and there is every reason to hope that they will be even more satisfactory, and that their widespread introduction will greatly increase the mobility of the Army in the North. In the more mountainous parts of the manoeuvre area, it was not too difficult to get vehicles off the road and into the bush, so that both vehicles and tents were reasonably well concealed from the air. In the flat country near Northway, where the trees were small and sparse, it was very difficult to get off the road and to find cover, and camouflage in general was poor. When fighting in this type of country, it may be necessary to provide for a change from white to green camouflage, as the occasion demands. More bulldozers are certainly needed to help wheeled vehicles off the road and into cover.

The longer radio links between units on the ground were not very satisfactory. This was not so much due to actual defects in signal equipment, as it was to the effects of screening by mountains, and the existence of unfamiliar propagation conditions. It should be possible to produce considerable improvement in communications, as a result of the experience on this Exercise, though good radio communication in this type of country will never be easy to achieve.

The experiences of the Air Force produced no new or unexpected problems. This was the first time that jet fighters had been operated in the sub-Arctic in large numbers on a Exercise of this kind. Experience confirmed the view that the jet engine is particularly suited to Arctic operation. It is simple, relatively easy to start and easily protected against the effects of cold. Even now, it is fairly easy to maintain and it is certain that future jet engines will require even less attention in the field. The overall record of 80% serviceability of all aircraft engaged in the Exercise is, in itself, sufficient testimony to the success of the air operations.

It is important to realize that the aircraft were entirely serviced in the open. No one of them was in a hangar during the period of the Exercise, with the exception of a few fighters that were serviced in a temporary hangar that had been erected at Burwash Landing as part of the Exercise. The f act that it was possible to service aircraft entirely in the open shows that conditions were not as severe as the worst that are encountered in the Arctic barrens. In parts of the Arctic where high winds are encountered, some shelter is essential to any mechanical work. Once aircraft are in the air in the Arctic, no special problems related to cold are encountered. In fact, throughout most of the Exercise, there was a very marked temperature inversion, so that the temperatures, even at a few thousand feet, were considerably higher than on the ground. This condition is not uncommon in that area, and makes for very smooth and comfortable flying.

The main problems that were encountered in the air were those of communication and navigation. The range of VHF radio at low altitudes was severely limited by the mountains. This not only limited communication, but also affected the use of certain radio aids to navigation. The difficulties of navigation in this sort of country again underline the importance of a two-seater fighter like the CF-100, which would be capable of carrying a navigator and adequate instruments to ensure not only a successful attack, but also a safe return to base. However, in spite of these difficulties, no aircraft were lost during the Exercise. All the casualties occurred during take-off or landing. The mountains also interfered with the operation of radar, both for early warning and for the ground control of interception. This limitation on the range of radar is a very serious one, and it will not easily be overcome. From the technical point of view, the solution is simple. It is merely necessary to put the radar stations on the tops of suitable mountains; from the practical point of view this is usually out of the question and some more feasible, if less satisfactory, solution must be found.

This description of "Exercise Sweetbriar" shows that it was primarily a test of the present state of training and equipment for sub-Arctic operations. It involved little novel equipment and no new weapons, and the weather conditions were not the worst that can be found in the Arctic. However, these things are not being neglected. Many novel items of equipment are under development, or are being tested under better controlled experimental conditions in Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom. These will appear in use in later Exercises. Training for operations in the true Arctic is going on at Churchill.

In fact, at the very time that we visited "Exercise Sweetbriar" a much smaller, but very important Exercise, called "Sun Dog I" was in progress near Churchill. The Exercise force consisted of a Company of the Royal Canadian Regiment, with supporting detachments from the Signal, Medical and Electrical and Mechanical Engineering Corps, totalling in all, 240 men. This force was entirely self-contained and fully mobile. It lived on the edge of the barrens, south and east of Churchill, for a month. During this period, it moved across country about 250 miles, carried out carefully planned experiments with rations and equipment, and tried new tactics against an imaginary enemy. It encountered as severe weather conditions as can ordinarily be found even in the barrens. On the worst day, the temperature ranged from 25° to 32° below zero, with a gusty wind of 25 miles an hour.

The general lessons that were learned from the Exercise, can therefore be summarized thus:

(1) The clothing, food, personal equipment, individual training and leadership of Canadian and American ground-force troops is now good enough that they can fight very effectively in the sub-Arctic. Although there is room for minor improvement in all these things, there is no reason to be dissatisfied with the present state of affairs.

(2) The vehicles now available are adequate for fighting along a highway, as in this Exercise, but would be inadequate if an attempt were made to deploy rapidly across country. Any Unit moving across country on the ground will have to be fully equipped with suitable tracked over-snow vehicles. Many believe that, under such conditions, re-supply should be entirely by air.

(3) In the Arctic and sub-Arctic, the Air Force will play an important part in nearly all operations and in many it will be the dominant factor. Aircraft can operate successfully in all parts of the Arctic and sub-Arctic, though there is considerable room for improvement in navigational aids, methods of detection and control of aircraft, and in ground servicing, where windchill is high.

Probably the most important single lesson of the Exercise was the renewed demonstration of the ease with which Canadians and Americans can work together in harmony. I am sure that the very real team spirit that grew up between the forces of the two countries, could only be developed between the people of two democratic nations. We have once more demonstrated to the World that the methods of democracy make possible the amicable solution of even such difficult problems as joint military command of the Forces of two sovereign nations. It is surely not unreasonable to hope that the same sort of relationship between nations may ultimately spread throughout the World, and thus bring an end to the recurring Wars that beset mankind.

Powered by / Alimenté par VITA Toolkit




My favourites lets you save items you like, tag them and group them into collections for your own personal use. Viewing "My favourites" will open in a new tab. Login here or start a My favourites account.










Exercise Sweetbriar


The speaker addresses the audience in the place of the Honourable Brooke Claxton, Minister of National Defence, who was attending the meeting of North Atlantic Defence Ministers at The Hague. First, a tribute to the memory of the late Laurence Steinhardt, the United States Ambassador to Canada. "Exercise Sweetbriar" an Exercise to test Canadian and United States Armed Forces in the field under sub-Arctic conditions. A brief outline of the main features of the Exercise. Then, a more detailed consideration of a few of the lessons that came out of the Exercise. The main object of the Exercise to develop doctrine and procedures for the employment of combined Canadian and U.S. forces operating in the sub-Arctic and to test in the field the latest developments in clothing, food, aircraft, vehicles, weapons and other equipment and material. Some details of the operation. The geographical setting and climate of the Exercise. Conclusions dealing with the general problems of the Exercise as a whole, then more specifically with ground problems, and finally with air problems. What the Exercise as a whole demonstrated in terms of problems of Arctic and sub-Arctic defence, most of which are human problems. Details of troop training. Basic problems of living in the Arctic. How terrain, rather than logistics, appeared to limit the number of men that could actually engage the enemy at any one time. Specific problems encountered by the Army. Improvements for weapons and equipment. The need to increase the mobility of the ground forces, and recommendations as to how this could be accomplished. The problem of longer radio links between units on the ground. The experience of the Air Force producing no new or unexpected problems. Some details of the aircraft involved, and the servicing of them in the open. Main problems encountered in the air those of communication and navigation. A summary of "Exercise Sweetbriar." A summary of general lessons learned dealing with clothing, food, personal equipment, individual training and leadership of ground-force troops, vehicles, the role of the Air Force, etc. The most important single lesson that of a renewed demonstration of the ease with which Canadians and Americans can work together in harmony.