ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- Exercise Arctic Eagle-Patriot (APE) 22 is a homeland security and emergency response exercise operating throughout Alaska, hosted by the Alaska National Guard.
Large-scale exercises such as AEP22 allow participants to explore capabilities in the context of domestic integration and exchange ideas and experiences in a controlled environment.
While the limelight tends to focus on the performance of units conducting the rescues, providing first aid and clearing the area from hazardous materials, smaller, more specialized units can take advantage of an opportunity that otherwise would not be available.
"This is my first opportunity working with you guys, here and in this sort of environment," Lt. Joffray Provencher, Public Affairs and Operations Officer, Canadian Forces Combat Camera, said. "This is for us some sort of a training as well. We get the luxury if we miss a shot or if we miss something; tomorrow is another shot, another opportunity to be better at what we do."
During AEP22, participants received instruction on their specialized trade, walked through the scenario, then came together to perform at full speed over multiple days.
"This is a lot of training, a lot of stuff that always comes back up and everyone needs to get this training," Cpl. Hugo Montpetit, Imagery Technician, Canadian Forces Combat Camera, said. "It's fun to see that the training is working flawlessly between the two countries. It's very much appreciated to see this part of the operation."
The Canadian Combat Camera unit performs a similar mission as the United States military's public affairs teams.
"Combat camera is the unit that deploys and goes out there to get the imagery to show the Canadian public what we do," Cpl. Hugo Montpetit, Imagery Technician, Canadian Forces Combat Camera, said. "We do a lot of missions and exercises abroad, working with other militaries. Right now, it's the U.S., but it could be any country."
Military to military cooperation is not uncommon to large-scale exercises such as AEP22. Programs like the National Guard Bureau's State Partnership Program have been successfully building relationships for over 25 years, and it now includes 85 partnerships with 93 nations around the globe.
Through SPP, the National Guard conducts military-to-military engagements, including large-scale exercises, supporting defense security goals. While also leverages whole-of-society relationships and capabilities to facilitate broader interagency and corollary engagements spanning military, government, economic and social spheres.
"Just to see how you guys work, there's a lot of takeaways we could incorporate in the future," Provencher said. "Now I know how you work with the National Guard here in this environment…Just a different approach, and it gives you a different perspective."
While exploring capabilities, units build an understanding of each other's operational goals to develop best practices. Additionally, lessons learned help to adapt to future scenarios.
Montpetit said seeing how other military forces and photographers do their work is enough to help his teammates learn and get better at what they do because they now see a different perspective.
"This is a strange trade we're in in the military," Provencher said. "There's an art, an approach that required for your work but also about structure, rules, chain of command. There is a gray zone between being in the military and being an artistic person, and to see how you guys balance that is super interesting."