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Pembroke officer spends Christmas in Latvia

By Sean Chase, The Daily Observer

DND photo
Capt. Mitch Montminy is currently in Latvia serving as a fire support co-ordination centre officer. The Pembroke-native has been deployed on Operation Reassurance since June.

DND photo Capt. Mitch Montminy is currently in Latvia serving as a fire support co-ordination centre officer. The Pembroke-native has been deployed on Operation Reassurance since June.

 

A Pembroke native with the Canadian Armed Forces has spent the Christmas holidays on a critical NATO mission seeking to deter Russian aggression against eastern Europe.

Since June, Capt. Mitch Montminy has been deployed to Latvia as a member of the first Canadian battle group assigned to Operation Reassurance, a mission that aims to reinforce NATO’s collective defence in the face of Russian interference in the Ukraine. One of four NATO battle groups in the Baltic states and Poland, the Edmonton-based 1st Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry leads a multinational battle group that includes soldiers from Albania, Italy, Poland, Slovenia, Spain and Latvia.

“Working with other nations is something we don't do as often,” said Capt. Montminy in a recent phone interview with the Daily Observer. “It's been great all around.”

The battle group is station at Camp Adazi, a military facility built in the 1970s by the former Soviet Union when Latvia was still part of the Warsaw Pact behind the Iron Curtain. It is located 30 kilometres from the capital of Riga. Capt. Montminy is the fire support co-ordination centre officer in the battle group headquarters. He and his staff ensures that fire support plan meets the manoeuvre plan during live fire exercises with the Latvian brigade that they support.

The Latvians use mortars and will soon acquire the M-109 turreted self-propelled howitzer. Some Latvian artillery officers are also scheduled to attend courses at the Royal Canadian Artillery School in Gagetown. Despite coming from different nations, he found that the doctrine and SOPs, or standard operating procedures, are similiar.

“It was a challenge at first to get everyone to work off the same page,” Capt. Montminy remarked. “It's impressive at how similar everybody works. You wouldn't expect that right away but you work out some of the little differences and you find the main functions that you have are really similar.”

A member of 1st Regiment, Royal Canadian Horse Artillery (1RCHA) based in Shilo, Manitoba, Capt. Montminy grew up in Pembroke attending Rockwood Public School and Fellowes High School. His military career began in 2006 when he joined the Pembroke-based 42 Field Regiment. This is his first overseas tour.

The PPCLI battlegroup will be replaced by 2nd Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment in January. Among them will be a handful of augmentees from Garrison Petawawa's 2 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group (2CMBG). Capt. Montminy has already been preparing the ground work for his replacement, who will come from the Petawawa-based 2RCHA.

“There's going to be some different elements and two more sending nations coming up for the next group,” he explained. “They'll have some work but there is a good set of SOPs so they'll have a baseline to start off with.”

While they have spent Christmas in Latvia, Capt. Montminy said there are signs of the festive season all over the base with decorated trees and lights. The officers and senior non-commissioned members also planned to host a dinner for the troops on Christmas day.

“There will be a little bit of a Christmas,” remarked Capt. Montminy.

SChase@postmedia.com