CFB Suffield: Britain to train thousands of troops in Canada

The CFB Suffield announcement was made as “business as usual” to keep Canadians unaware of the extent to which the territory of Canada is being consistently used by the NATO powers – the USA in the first place, which considers Canada to be its front yard – to prepare war and even as a launch pad for intervention against other nations and peoples.


110625-StJohnsMarineRescueCentre-02WHERE does the British Army send its troops to train for war when it has been kicked out of a North African country asserting its independence and sovereignty?

Which country then allows the British Army to use its territory to wage war against an independent and sovereign country in Latin America?

And which country recently changed all the names of its armed forces units to re-incorporate the word “Royal”? Started to share its embassies? Grovels before its queen?

The Right answer is Canada and for all the wrong reasons.

The Harper kingdom has agreed with the United Kingdom (UK) “to continue its training at the British Army Training Unit Suffield (BATUS) in Alberta for the foreseeable future.” In a November 4th news release, the Defence Department said the extended use of Canadian Forces Base Suffield comes after an extended review by the Cameron government’s Ministry of Defence. That the Canada-UK agreement to train British forces in Canada is open-ended without any fixed termination date is not mentioned. Striking a “business as usual” tone, Rob Nicholson, Minister of National Defence, stated “…[W]e are delighted and fully supportive of the UK decision to remain in Canada,” as if this outrageous decision was the most normal decision in the world. “Canadian Forces Base Suffield and BATUS have an excellent working relationship and continue to find effective ways to deliver world class training.”

The announcement follows on the heels of the Harper’s October 18th announcement that agreement in principle had been reached with the European Union (EU) on the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), something demanded by over 100 top executives in Canada and Europe, including those of Barrick Gold, Bombardier, CN, Power Corporation, SNC-Lavalin, and Suncor on the Canadian side. In parallel, it can be expected that Canadian Forces military activities in Europe will escalate. The Canadian Forces has designated Lithuania, Poland and the Ukraine “strategic partners” – all on a trajectory of the “greater Poland” stretching from the Baltic to the Black seas, along the borders of Russia, and part of opening up Eurasia to the U.S. empire.

CFB Suffield is the largest Canadian Forces Base and the largest Commonwealth military training base in the world. It is located in southeastern Alberta, 3 nautical miles (5.6 km; 3.5 mi) north-northwest of Suffield, 50 km (31 mi) north of the city of Medicine Hat and 250 km (160 mi) southeast of Calgary – and a long, nine-hour flight from the United Kingdom (or 4369 air miles between London, England and Calgary, by the great circle route over the North Pole.)

In 1972, when the new government of Libya led by Col. Gaddafi, which had come to power in 1969, proceeded to, after negotiations, close down British military installations located at El Adem and Tobruk, and additionally American installations located near Tripoli, the then Trudeau government was only too happy to step up to the plate and allow the British Army to use CFB Suffield as its base for BATUS – for an undisclosed fee.

The island kingdom, used to exploiting the territory of others to serve its imperialist aims, possesses no suitably expansive areas to allow the British Army to undertake large scale armoured warfare exercises to prepare for war in other people’s lands. It is also a condition that such an expansive area not be populated and be out of sight of the people.

Thus, on August 5, 1971, it signed a 10-year lease with the Trudeau Government that battle group training by the British army take place in the Suffield, Alberta area. The British were granted access to three-quarters of the Suffield Block for armoured, infantry, and artillery live-fire training. BATUS is 2,690 sq km (1,040 sq mi) – about eight or nine times the size of the British home field at Salisbury’s plain (375 sq km).

In January 1972 the British Army Training Unit Suffield was formally established. In July the first live rounds were fired by the 4th Royal Tank Regiment Battle Group. In 1981 the lease for Suffield was extended and in 1991, the lease was again extended. In 2006, on the expiration of this lease, the British and Canadian governments concluded an agreement that will allow British forces to maintain their training practices in Canada indefinitely.

BATUS is equipped with an excess of 1000 vehicles including a full complement of Challenger 2 tanks and Warrior Infantry Fighting Vehicles. Britain trains five Battle groups such as its forces that invaded Iraq, each containing approximately 1400 soldiers, at BATUS each year for up to 30 days at a time, that is, more than 7,000 British soldiers a year. Military exercises are split into two phases: live fire and simulation. The size of the training area located within CFB Suffield allows all elements of a combined arms battle group (Infantry, Armour, Artillery, Engineers, Air Defence, Logistics and Equipment Support) to conduct realistic live firing training at all levels and to practice sustaining this activity over a long period of time.

During the Malvinas (Falklands) war in 1982, the British transported – using Canadian National Railway (CNR) flatbed rail cars – tanks and armoured personnel carriers from Alberta to Nova Scotia for potential transhipment to the conflict in the South Atlantic. Anti war activists took photos of the rail cars loaded with tanks adjacent to the Fairview Cove container terminal as evidence, despite a curtain of secrecy by the monopoly media and the Trudeau government which, together with all so-called major political parties, endorsed the British colonial side.

JaniceACTON.CdnConscienceSuffield is the base for defence science organization (chemical warfare) and the Counter Terrorism Technology Centre.  The infamous role and history of Suffield in developing weapons of mass destruction is a shocking illustration of the diabolical use that the Anglo-American empire is capable of giving to such facilities.

The Suffield facility (then called Suffield Experimental Station) commenced operations in June, 1941 as a joint British/Canadian biological and chemical research facility, administered by the Canadian Army. The high-level operation was signed off by the heads of the British and Canadian governments, Winston Churchill and MacKenzie King. An American chemical weapons specialist was also stationed there, while a Canadian counterpart was assigned to a Maryland facility. In violation of the 1925 Geneva Protocol against chemical weapons, chemical weapons, including sarin and mustard gas, were stored and tested for decades. Canadian soldiers were deployed to Suffield, not Europe, as the unwitting guinea pigs. The weapons were tested on approximately 3,700 members of the Canadian military in Suffield from 1941 to the mid-1970s, but mainly in the Second World War era, and at Ottawa from 1941-45. It is also known that chemical weapons were tested on personnel at Alberta’s CFB Wainwright during the 1960s. [1]

In the same fashion, the NATO air training facility in Goose Bay, Labrador was responsible for destroying the environment and the health of the Innu people, that region’s traditional inhabitants.

Innu women demonstrate in the mid-1980s against NATO overflights and for self-determination for their homeland which they call Nitassinan.

Innu women demonstrate in the mid-1980s against NATO overflights and for self-determination for their homeland which they call Nitassinan.

It used to be quite rare and even noteworthy when foreign military training took place on Canadian soil.  The CFB Suffield announcement was made as “business as usual” to keep Canadians unaware of the extent to which the territory of Canada is now being consistently used by the NATO powers – the USA in the first place, which considers Canada to be its front yard – to prepare war and even as a launch pad for intervention against other nations and peoples. [2]

A series of facilities stretch across the country, from the NATO air training facility in Goose Bay, Labrador (Britain, Germany, Italy), which has been vehemently opposed by the Innu Nation of Labrador since the 1950s, to CFB Cold Lake in Alberta (Operation Maple Leaf), to the U.S. naval base in Nanoose on Vancouver Island, BC, to the Canadian ports placed in the service of the U.S. nuclear fleet – all in the service of realizing what former Defence Minister Peter MacKay brazenly called Canada’s “go to” role for the U.S and the NATO bloc.

Furthermore, at the time of writing, the Pentagon is carrying out a “joint” military exercise in the Canadian Maritimes code-named “Exercise Frontier Sentinel 2013.” As an article in TML recently noted:

“Following the September 11, 2001 attacks successive Canadian governments have been systematically placing Canadian forces and security agencies under U.S. command in various ways. Although these are presented as “joint” operations, more and more aspects of Canada’s military and civilian emergency responders and services such as the Coast Guard are being placed under NORAD/U.S. command.  Under the Harper government this trend has reached a climax with new permanent arrangements that put U.S. security forces on Canadian soil and place all of Canadian land, sea and waterways shared with the U.S., such as the Great Lakes, and aerospace under U.S. military command.” [4]

This permanent apparatus of foreign bases, facilities and exercises is accompanied by servile and seditious agreements guaranteeing the U.S. and other foreign powers impunity from Canadian laws, such as the Status of Forces Agreements, Visiting Forces Act and the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America (SPP). In addition, restrictive Order in Councils such as the Controlled Access Military Zones order (“military security zones,” designated on 31 October 2002) gives the federal cabinet despotic powers over designated naval ports [3], suspending all the laws of the country and provisions of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The arbitrary arrest and prosecution of hundreds of Canadians including the defiant Innu people opposed to these bases has been carried out by successive governments that dare not support the conscience of the Canadian people.

At the same time the delusions of grandeur of the Harper war government is such that it is establishing a global network of military bases or “hubs” thousands of miles away from Canada. These foreign military bases in Canada and throughout the world are acts profoundly damaging not only to Canadians’ desire to contribute to peace in the world, but to Canada’s  claim of sovereignty when it trafficks in Canadian territory like a common huckster flipping real estate to the highest bidder. The claim of successive federal governments that Canada is a peace-loving country friendly to all peoples of the world with an independent foreign and military policy is no longer sustainable.


1. The Canadian Veterans Advocacy (CVA) website provides detailed information on the effects of the exposure of Canadian military personnel to sarin, mustard gas, and other chemical warfare agents at Suffield and at CFB Wainwright, personnel who “had no idea what they were being exposed to.” The website states: “Those veterans that suffered through the early years of the 1940’s, during testing of mustard agents mixed with other chemicals and items, suffered inhumane treatment, without medical aid in many cases. The Department of National Defence, Canadian Forces Surgeon Generals, Suffield Staff, Health Canada, and the Canadian Government erred, and are guilty of neglect and suppressing evidence. They failed to record this information into medical documents, and personal files in some cases. This was not a simple error, as it has been repeated throughout the last forty years. These denials allowed the Government to avoid awarding medical pensions in large numbers to veterans who were entitled, and who should have been advised of chemicals they were exposed too.”

The CVA website goes on to explain: “There is, at the present time, a class action before the Federal Court of Canada, fighting for your rights and your suffering as caused by the Department of National Defence, Suffield Staff, Canadian Forces Surgeon Generals, Health Canada, and the Canadian Government. The class action is for all veterans who were exposed to chemicals.” The site then lists “some chemicals used at Suffield Experimental Station, now called Canadian Forces Base Suffield, at Ralston Alberta from 1941 to present date, and at CFB Wainwright during the 1960s.” The very lengthy list of dozens of chemicals includes sarin (nerve agent), mustard gas, cyanide gas (used by the Nazis to execute concentration camp prisoners), phosgene, arsenic, carbon monoxide, tabun (nerve agent), soman (nerve agent), and the insecticide DDT. The CVA website concludes: “A full scope of the testing that took place within these areas will never be known. The attempt to gather information from both Suffield and the Canadian Government has been a very daunting task for those members who were there and suffer from the effects of chemical exposure. Our research has shown that the more we look, the more we find. There are hundreds of tests, the records of which are still being withheld by our government.”

2 The U.S. Empire has used the sovereign territory of Canada to prepare interventionist military actions against sovereign countries, e.g., illegal mining of the harbours of Nicaragua, 1984 (Operation Minex), condemned by the International Court at the Hague; the murky “rescue” operation against the Islamic Republic of Iran by the United States, which crashed in the desert south of Tehran, April 1980 (Operation Eagle Claw); and the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq, March, 2003 – Unified Spirit amphibious exercise in Newfoundland, June 1998 and the use of airports in Newfoundland and Labrador to tranship as many as 5,000 soldiers a day in preparation for the war against Iraq.

The US-NATO war machine has stepped up its use of Canadian territory. In 2005, Canada and the US trained Israeli F-18 fighter pilots at Cold Lake, Alberta during the US exercise prior to the IDF’s resumption of barbarous bombing raids on civilian targets in Gaza. On May 30, 2010 Harper provided Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, an invited guest of the Canadian state, communication facilities at Harrington Lake, an official residence of the Canadian prime minister in he Gatineau Hills, to order the premeditated and murderous assault of the Israeli armed forces on the Gaza flotilla, known as the Freedom Flotilla, in the early morning darkness of May 31, 2010 in international waters in the Mediterranean Sea.

Since 2009, U.S. troops now exercise annually in the Arctic under the pretext of “defending Canadian sovereignty.”

3 Anyone can be forcibly removed from a military zone. They will not be able to sue for damages, loses or injuries. The penalty for contravening a controlled access military zone is a fine or a year in prison.

4 “No to U.S. Forces on Canadian Soil! Oppose Operation of U.S. Military and Security Agents in Canada,” TML Weekly Information Project, September 28, 2013 – No. 38.

Related reading on this website

The abolition of military bases – ending imperialist intervention,” March 8, 2007,

‘Partnership of the Americas’: The system of U.S. bases,” Tony Seed, August 13, 2007,


Filed under Canada, Canadian Forces

4 responses to “CFB Suffield: Britain to train thousands of troops in Canada

  1. Pingback: U.S. veterans demand justice from Agent Orange spraying at CFB Gagetown | Tony Seed's Weblog

  2. Pingback: 5,000 British Army troops to take part in exercises in Canada | Tony Seed's Weblog

  3. Pingback: U.S. veterans demand justice from Agent Orange spraying at CFB Gagetown | Chainsoff's Blog

  4. Pingback: Murky affair of accused British Royal Navy sailors gets murkier | Tony Seed's Weblog

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