The Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Suffield is located in south-eastern Alberta, about 50km north of the city of Medicine Hat. Occupying over 2,690km², the base is one of the largest live fire training areas in the western world.
The base provides a world class range and training area to Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC) Suffield, the British Army Training Unit Suffield (BATUS) and other base commands.
CFB Suffield history
The Rocky Mountain Rangers was the first military unit established in the Medicine Hat area. It was an active unit of irregular cavalry created for the protection of Southern Alberta during the Northwest Rebellion of 1885. Some air force units were temporarily based in the area during and after the Second World War. A major prisoner of war camp was established in Medicine Hat during the Second World War.
Suffield was considered for a combined UK / Canadian experimental station in 1941. The majority of the land was acquired from the Canadian Pacific Railway and the Hudson’s Bay Company. Experimental Station Suffield, thus, commenced operations in June 1941. It was renamed Defence Research Establishment Suffield (DRES) in 1967. The unit continued until it was merged into Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC) in April 2000.
The establishment became an all-Canadian endeavour when UK support ended in 1946. As Suffield hosts experimental station and also useful to Canada and its allies during the war, both Canada and her allies entered into a general agreement to maintain the station on a permanent basis. The official name Canadian Forces Base Suffield was adopted in December 1971.
Over the time, the base turned into a world-class centre for defence research and military training. In July 2006, the British Army signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to use the base for an indefinite period.
The CFB Suffield is a unit of the Canadian Regular Force, which is allocated to Land Force Command. The base provides infrastructure support and equipment to the lodger units of Canada and her allies to meet their defence needs. CFB Suffield houses over 100 Canadian military personnel and around 600 civilian employees. The BATUS is served by about 200 permanent military staff and 150 / 300 temporary personnel during the summer / winter.
DRDC Suffield is one of the six Defence R&D Canada research centres located at the base. It was established during the Second World War and was the first tenant of the Suffield range. It offers services in the areas of military engineering, autonomous intelligent systems, and chemical and biological (CB) defence. DRDC Suffield employs approximately 300 full-time civilian employees.
The range and training area (RTA) at the base is divided into a manoeuvre training area (MTA), experimental proving ground (EPG), national wildlife area (NWA) and oil access area (OAA).
BATUS facilities located at Suffield include HQ BATUS, Resident OPFOR, 29 Flight, Army Air Corps, 105 Logistic Support Squadron, Royal Logistic Corps and BATUS REME workshop. The base ammunition compound is located on the north of the remaining garrison facilities. It has the capacity to store large amounts of ammunition. The G4 Hazmat located in building 370 is responsible for the management of the base hazardous material programme. The programme includes reclamation, processing, disposable or recycling of the hazardous materials at the base.
The training facilities are also provided for other occasional military units of 1 Canadian Mechanised Brigade Group (1 CMBG) and Land Force Command.
CFB Suffield air facilities
The CFB Suffield has a 40mx110m helicopter landing spot made of gravel. The helipad can support the operations of Gazelle helicopters operated by the 29 (BATUS) Flight Army Air Corps.
The family housing units of CFB Suffield and BATUS are located at Ralston village. Two large kitchen facilities are available at the base. Other recreational facilities include a military family resource centre, a gymnasium, a squash court, a bowling alley, a sauna and a swimming pool.