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Calian successfully delivered two exercises for the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), preparing them for activation as part of a domestic disaster response, in their role of providing aid to the civil authority. These exercises were held on 4-5 March 2023 in Toronto, and 11-12 March 2023 at CFB Edmonton, and provided an innovative, realistic training opportunity for the CAF.

The CAF has been called upon in times of disaster and crisis as part of Operation LENTUS. This training prepared military leaders and soldiers for what they may face if they are called upon to support civilian leaders in the event of a disaster. Working with Canadian Army leadership, Calian designed and developed an exercise that simulated the process of activating military resources in support of civilian leaders during a time of national crisis and managing the communications and public affairs releases. This kind of training is essential to preparing the CAF for supporting civilian authorities in emergency management.

Domestic response training is important for preparing the CAF for how they will execute their roles and responsibilities in non-combat operations at home, interacting and engaging with civilian officials leading the response. These exercises provide hands-on experience in realistic, immersive training environments. Don Whitty, President of Calian Learning, talks about taking a different approach to training for domestic operations: “We have a long legacy of delivering training for the CAF, going back decades. With more frequent and more severe weather events happening, the CAF is being called to support municipal and provincial authorities more often. Domestic operations are very different from the high-intensity conventional operations the military usually prepares for. Domestic operations are different, and that means taking a different approach.”

For this exercise, Calian developed all the exercise traffic, simulated the civilian emergency operations centre (EOC) with staff that has civilian emergency management experience, and developed a simulated media environment. The EOC is the main point of operational control for municipalities and provinces. The EOC is the main coordinating authority the CAF will support. Calian simulated the EOC to exercise the activation process, information exchange processes, operational support priorities, and delivery of assistance operations.

Calian also simulated the contemporary media environment, including multiple social media ecosystems journalists and media outlets. This part of the exercise tested the public affairs function by mixing legitimate press questions with disinformation and inauthentic content. By simulating the whole media space, public affairs professionals exercise their capability to communicate clearly and succinctly with the public and stakeholders.

Whitty talks about the value that Calian delivers for contemporary challenges, including the information domain. “Digital technology means that every person with a smartphone can report and disseminate what they see in real-time to an audience of potentially millions of people. Unfortunately, this means disingenuous material can also be spread. Decision-making in emergency management relies on getting timely and accurate information. Differentiating what is accurate from what is noise is an essential skill that needs to be exercised. In short: the information domain matters, and that means preparing leaders and emergency managers.”

Calian provides a wide range of simulation-based training solutions for military and civilian customers around the world, from individual skills development to collective training for high-readiness units. We have delivered many similar training solutions for domestic operations, including the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games, the 2015 PanAm Games in Toronto, the 2018 G7 Summit in Charlevoix, Quebec, and dozens of other domestic response exercises for fires, floods, storms and infrastructure failures. Calian used ResponseReady™ for delivering this exercise. ResponseReady is a proprietary tool that allows the Calian training team to design, develop and deliver complex training exercises in a single web-based environment.

Calian has been delivering training to the CAF for over 25 years, most notably in designing, developing and delivering simulation-based training for the Canadian Army. Whether for individual training to improve personal skills or delivering large complex exercises for high-readiness units, Calian delivers readiness for military customers.