Canadian, U.S. armies sign off on bilateral training plan

Article / March 9, 2022 / Project number: 20-0014

Note: to view additional photos, click the photo under Image Gallery.

A new milestone in Canada’s closest military partnership has been reached with the signing of a new training strategy that will see even greater cooperation between the Canadian and U.S. armies.

This milestone comes in the form of the Canada-U.S. Bilateral Training Strategy (BATS). Developed over the past five years, it has implications beyond the bilateral relationship that will also bring the signatories closer to their partners in the ABCANZ military alliance, which includes Australia, Britain, and New Zealand along with the U.S and Canada.

BATS was co-signed on March 8, 2022 by Canadian Army (CA) Deputy Commander Major-General Conrad Mialkowski and Lieutenant-General John Evans, Jr., Commander, United States Army North (ARNORTH).

ARNORTH conducts Theater Security Co-operations with their Canadian and Mexican counterparts, including events such as regional commanders’ conferences, subject matter expert training, and exercises to strengthen defence relationships.

ARNORTH and Canada work to increase military readiness—ensuring the ability of U.S. and Canadian forces to deploy together worldwide. The years of discussion have yielded a definitive path to enhanced collaboration – or, in military terms, interoperability - between the two armies, explained Major Scott Dawe, a U.S. exchange officer working within the CA’s Canadian Manoeuvre Training Centre.

“A strategy without specific actions is just a wish or a goal,” he said. “BATS is meant to give us some specific milestones, specific decision points, to codify specific training events so we can say, ‘If we do these things, we will achieve interoperability, we will achieve improved combat effectiveness.’”

While BATS is primarily a shared action plan for Canada and the U.S., it is informed by standards set by the ABCANZ Executive Council. The ultimate goal is to reach what ABCANZ has defined as an ‘integrated’ level of interoperability by 2028. This means the partner nations are able to work smoothly together regardless of which army has the lead role on an exercise or operation.

“Integrated is defined as when forces are able to merge seamlessly and are interchangeable,” said Maj Dawe. “Meaning that there isn’t really any difference in the way our systems talk, the way we communicate tactically, whether over the radio or digital means.”

ABCANZ standards are part of many exercises Canada and the U.S. collaborate on already, he added, but BATS offers an opportunity to not just meet, but exceed them.

“Just based on geography, you’re much more likely to get frequent collaboration between the two largest geographical members of ABCANZ who also happen to share a common border. So there’s a need for a bilateral agreement because we’re trying to essentially go above and beyond.”

BATS sets the conditions for retaining, and not just reaching, the highest levels of interoperability. “While the integrated level is the goal,” Maj Dawe noted, “Canada and the U.S. are already demonstrating their interoperability through regular bilateral exercises.”

“We are pretty well integrated but, without continuing to practice it, as BATS lays out, that ability will atrophy. So it’s not like a championship where we achieve interoperability and then go home. We’ve achieved it, now we’ve got to maintain it because the next major geopolitical crisis might require us to actually execute operations together. And we need to be interoperable if we do.”

The BATS signing was also LGen Evans’ first visit to Canada since assuming command of ARNORTH last year. His visit also included a general briefing on the CA from his Canadian counterparts.

COVID restrictions kept his predecessor from crossing the border, making the meeting more significant still, said Maj Dawe.

“After years of closed borders and no official visits, we’re now to the point where we’re comfortable enough with the medical state of affairs to do some high-level visits and work towards collaborative efforts.”

Page details

Date modified: