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Best Base/Training Area for Tanks/Combined Arms

GR66

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The question has been raised in the Force 2025 thread about what Base/Training Area is best suited for tanks/combined arms training if we were to concentrate our tanks in a single location.

What to current/past tankers think?
 

Infanteer

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I've spoken to a few folks who've commanded a tank squadron. Petawawa and Valcartier are simply too small (why do you think the RCD and 12 RBC share a tank squadron in Gagetown?). Gagetown is not good for multiple reasons - don't let the size of the map fool you.

Wainwright is fair, Suffield is optimal. US facilities in the mid-west and Texas lie somewhere in between those two.
 

Kat Stevens

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Terrain wise it's pretty tough to beat Shilo for maneuver training. Other than those pesky 105 and 155 duds lying all over the place of course.
 

KevinB

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Cold Lake ;)

There are a few USG sites that you could drop all of the CF Training Areas in and still not hit a boundary.

I've been to White Sands on a few tests - it is over 8,000 SQ KM of impact area. There are a couple of larger ones too - but just used for things you then wouldn't want to bring Troops in (also due to DRES and a few other things - there is stuff in Suffield that I would not want to be walking around either)
 

MJP

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Cold Lake ;)
CL is not really much of an option due to the Oil & Gas Infra that runs through it combined with the air weapons range so it limits ground stuff. Wx has O&G but not to the extent of CL and it is built in a way that allows for ground maneuver to go on. It is also a RCAF asset and heavily used by them for their own trg. Hard enough to de-conflict CA trg areas within the CA, not undoable but when you have Shilo, Wx and to a lesser extant Suffield there is little need to fight the RCAF for trg time
 

KevinB

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CL is not really much of an option due to the Oil & Gas Infra that runs through it combined with the air weapons range so it limits ground stuff. Wx has O&G but not to the extent of CL and it is built in a way that allows for ground maneuver to go on. It is also a RCAF asset and heavily used by them for their own trg. Hard enough to de-conflict CA trg areas within the CA, not undoable but when you have Shilo, Wx and to a lesser extant Suffield there is little need to fight the RCAF for trg time
I was saying CL more tongue in cheek.
But I will say - nothing more realistic than deconfliction - and avoiding collateral damage for realism in trainings.
 

MJP

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I was saying CL more tongue in cheek.
But I will say - nothing more realistic than deconfliction - and avoiding collateral damage for realism in trainings.
Oh I get it but more than a few ppl have suggested CL as some sort of saviour trg ground for the CA

As for de-confliction we already have that in spades with normal CA trg areas, no need to involve the RCAF if we can help it :)
 

FJAG

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I was saying CL more tongue in cheek.
But I will say - nothing more realistic than deconfliction - and avoiding collateral damage for realism in trainings.
Yet another job for the artillery's Air Support Coordination Centre (which incidentally has been in Cold Lake during the early 2000's with ADATs).

:giggle:
 

SeaKingTacco

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There are two other training areas to consider that are often forgotten: Chilcoten and Dundurn.

Chilcoten I have never been to and I have been told is quite austere. Dundurn is, frankly, and under utilized gem.
 

daftandbarmy

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There are two other training areas to consider that are often forgotten: Chilcoten and Dundurn.

Chilcoten I have never been to and I have been told is quite austere. Dundurn is, frankly, and under utilized gem.

The Chilcotin training area is perfect for, probably, up to Combat Team/ tank squadron level. There are zero range facilities there though, so would require a big upgrade. Being a couple of hour drive outside of Williams Lake on a crappy little Hwy 22, it's logistically tricky.

It's in 'fire country' so that, from May onwards, rural operations (like logging) are usually shut down to avoid causing giant wildfires.

It's also likely to be taken back in some kind of land deal with the local first nations, who are amongst the most 'legally active' in the Province.
 

FJAG

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There are two other training areas to consider that are often forgotten: Chilcoten and Dundurn.

Chilcoten I have never been to and I have been told is quite austere. Dundurn is, frankly, and under utilized gem.
I ran the HQ company for Mil Area Prairie Area Rank and Trade School in Dundurn for two years which was a challenge but a lot of fun mostly because I had a great company sergeant major working with me.

The base was an adjunct to CFB Moose Jaw at the time and every year we had a gigantic bun fight to keep them from tearing down perfectly useable buildings and to get them to put some maintenance money into them. Essentially we had $10,000 a year which was just enough to de-winterize and winterize the buildings before and after training. Just looked at it from Google Maps and it seems there's been some effort to keep some of the key infrastructure.

The range area isn't large but it's quite useable and does have a rifle range so you can do a fair bit of basic training there.

🍻
 

dapaterson

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If you need buildings only 2-3 months a year, you can use tents.

DND has too many underused buildings that should be demolished without replacement.
 

MJP

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There are two other training areas to consider that are often forgotten: Chilcoten and Dundurn.

Chilcoten I have never been to and I have been told is quite austere. Dundurn is, frankly, and under utilized gem.
I don't think either is good for combine arms or tank trg but are excellent trg areas. Dundurn has great terrain for CA/Tanks but IIRC the smaller size of the trg area doesn't lend itself well to live fire or larger maneuver past Pl/Tp level.
 

FJAG

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If you need buildings only 2-3 months a year, you can use tents.

DND has too many underused buildings that should be demolished without replacement.
.... and that's exactly the attitude I faced two winters in a row when having the coord meetings with CFB Moose Jaw. The fact that structurally the old concrete H huts were sound and only needed to have electricity turned on and water pipes cleared (the heating systems were long gone and unnecessary anyway) with the odd bit of a broken window here and an odd door handle there made little difference.

We would also have had to set up kitchen facilities, quartermaster stores, maintenance facilities, canteens and messes, classrooms, etc etc etc. The cost associated with all of that, including personnel costs in setting it up and tearing it down, would have vastly exceeded the maintenance costs involved. But those costs would have had to come out of the Army's budget not the Air Force's.

Basically Dundurn was a rounding error in Moose Jaw's annual budget but there was no support within the base command community for spending a nickel on it. Each year we dickered and grudgingly conceded to one or the other of the oldest structures being demolished while the base grudgingly conceded to opening and closing the rest of the buildings each year.

I'm actually a fan of tented summer training facilities on hard standing/slabs supported by decent ablution facilities (not blue rockets) and kitchen facilities and secure QM facilities and a few maintenance bays. Those are few and far between and do have an original capital cost.

It looks to me like Camp Vimy in Valcartier is like that (I've never actually been there) and Meaford (haven't been there if four and a half decades) and while Aldershot had some decent hard-standing facilities when I was there in 2007, it didn't look like the tented expansion facilities were as good as they could be (that might have changed). Kind of the same for Wainwright - there're some there but I haven't been there in some time to know how good they are these days. Dundurn and Shilo not so much. In Shilo they were pretty quick to raze the GATES facilities once the Germans left.

You know me and my constant whining to reform the Reserves and in part that needs some investment of upgraded facilities that will do exactly what you recommend - allow temporary (tented) accommodation for reservists each summer including hard-standing accommodation for staff and support facilities at key sites across the country.

A tiny fraction of the money spent on Carling would have been nice, but I do recognize that you can never have enough cubicles and executive suites in Ottawa.

🍻
 
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quadrapiper

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The Chilcotin training area is perfect for, probably, up to Combat Team/ tank squadron level. There are zero range facilities there though, so would require a big upgrade. Being a couple of hour drive outside of Williams Lake on a crappy little Hwy 22, it's logistically tricky.

It's in 'fire country' so that, from May onwards, rural operations (like logging) are usually shut down to avoid causing giant wildfires.

It's also likely to be taken back in some kind of land deal with the local first nations, who are amongst the most 'legally active' in the Province.
Would be interesting if the CAF can get in front of the land deal and engineer some sort of usage agreement. Not sure what the FN has in mind for the area.
 

Blackadder1916

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Basically Dundurn was a rounding error in Moose Jaw's annual budget but there was no support within the base command community for spending a nickel on it. Each year we dickered and grudgingly conceded to one or the other of the oldest structures being demolished while the base grudgingly conceded to opening and closing the rest of the buildings each year.

The push to demolish seldom/intermittently used buildings is not just a result of base level minor maintenance expenses.. Every structure (including lean-to and outhouse) is taken into account for calculation of PILT. The Regional Municipality of Dundern probably looks quite favorably at the $241,758.05 that DND contributes to its annual $3 million budget.
 

FJAG

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The push to demolish seldom/intermittently used buildings is not just a result of base level minor maintenance expenses.. Every structure (including lean-to and outhouse) is taken into account for calculation of PILT. The Regional Municipality of Dundern probably looks quite favorably at the $241,758.05 that DND contributes to its annual $3 million budget.
The PILT Act is permissive and not mandatory in the the Minister "may" make payments on application. That said the formulas for payments are primarily determined by the Federal schedules to the legislation and to GiC orders. I don't have access to the regulations but if we mandate payments of PILT so that we pay the same rate on a 60 year old unheated temporary structure as we do on a 10 year old megacomplex than that's our problem to solve. Municipal taxes are based on various formulas from frontage to fair market value - surely the structures that we're talking about are at the very, very low end of the formula.

🍻
 

daftandbarmy

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Would be interesting if the CAF can get in front of the land deal and engineer some sort of usage agreement. Not sure what the FN has in mind for the area.

Returning it to traditional use. Or setting up a Casino :)


While the Tŝilhqot'in recovered from population decimation, the lands were used less than previous countless generations of indigenous people. This changed in the mid 20th Century when First Nations leaders established at Fish Lake (AKA "Chilcotin Forest") an interdisciplinary cultural centre and field school, where youth and others were taught traditional hunting and gathering practices, net making, hide tanning, etc. A revival of Tŝilhqot'in language also took place at Fish Lake. However, the lands were acquired by the Canadian Federal Government with questionable consent from those using the land, and today all that remains of the cultural centre are decrepit building foundations and overgrown driveways

 

quadrapiper

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Returning it to traditional use. Or setting up a Casino :)


While the Tŝilhqot'in recovered from population decimation, the lands were used less than previous countless generations of indigenous people. This changed in the mid 20th Century when First Nations leaders established at Fish Lake (AKA "Chilcotin Forest") an interdisciplinary cultural centre and field school, where youth and others were taught traditional hunting and gathering practices, net making, hide tanning, etc. A revival of Tŝilhqot'in language also took place at Fish Lake. However, the lands were acquired by the Canadian Federal Government with questionable consent from those using the land, and today all that remains of the cultural centre are decrepit building foundations and overgrown driveways

Looking at the British experience re: Army training being low impact as far as natural areas, wonder if a long-term deal for training use during parts of the year/in parts of the territory without significant traditional uses would be of interest as a low-effort source of income.

Obviously LdSH doing gunnery training might not be conducive to your second option, depending on the intended atmosphere.
 
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