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ALBERTA

4 Wing Cold Lake: 

Opened in March 1954 as RCAF Station Cold Lake, the station quickly became Canada’s premier air weapons training base.  Supporting the Cold Lake Air Weapons Range (CLAWR), a 11,700 square kilometres tract of land straddling the Alberta-Saskatchewan border to the north-east of Cold Lake, the station trained fighter pilots, first with the CF-100 Canuck, then the CF-104 Starfighter in 1962 and the CF-18 Hornet, for Canada’s home defence and its NATO commitments in West Germany and France (until 1967).

RCAF Station Cold Lake also provided support to 42 Aircraft Control & Warning Squadron, established south-east of the Cold Lake Station in 1954, to provide ground radar control for the jet fighters operating from the base and the CLAWR, and as a radio transmission centre.

In October 1962, 42 AC&W Squadron became 42 Radar Squadron and was equipped with the Semi-Automated Ground Environment (SAGE) system as part of the 28th NORAD Region.

As a result of Department of National Defence (DND) budget reductions, the site occupied by 42 Radar Squadron closed in 1992.

42 Radar Squadron re-located to 4 Wing Cold Lake and the squadron’s radar equipment was moved to the Primrose Lake Air Weapons Range.

With the Unification of the Forces, the base was re-named Canadian Forces Base Cold Lake.

The introduction of the Wing Concept at Air Bases in 1993 resulted in CFB Cold Lake being designated as 4 Wing.

Throughout the 1990s, downsizing of the Canadian Forces resulted in 4 Wing Cold Lake becoming one of only two jet-fighter bases remaining in Canada; the other being 3 Wing Bagotville in Quebec.

Today, 4 Wing is Canada’s largest and busiest fighter wing and is home to two CF-18 Squadrons, 401 & 409 Tactical Fighter Squadrons; two training squadrons, 410 Tactical Fighter (Operational Training) Squadron & 419 Tactical Fighter Training Squadron; 417 Combat Support Squadron, who fly the CH-146 Griffin Helicopters, providing search and rescue duties for downed fighter pilots, along with a secondary role augmenting the National Search and Rescue services.

Sources: http://www.rcaf-arc.forces.gc.ca/en/squadron/417-squadron.page, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CFB_Cold_Lake, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/42_Radar_Squadron


Edmonton Garrison (3rd Canadian Support Base Edmonton):

Originally established on 1 October 1955 as RCAF Station Namao, following the closure of Blatchford Field. The aerodrome had originally been built by the U.S Army Corps of Engineers during WWII as a staging point for the US defence of Alaska as Blatchford Field could not be expanded. Two runways were constructed, 03/21 and 12/30, both 2,100 m (6,890 ft) long, making them Canada’s longest runways at the time.

The American government operated the aerodrome until the end of WWII when it was turned over to the Canadian government.

During the Cold War, RCAF Station Namao was used by the United States Strategic Air Command, which constructed a “Nose Dock” capable of servicing the nose and wings of heavy jet bombers and tankers on the south side of the airfield.

The station also hosted the Edmonton Rescue Coordination Centre. Because Namao by that time had a 13,780 ft runway, 12/30, it was a designated an emergency SpAce Shuttle landing site by NASA.

With the Amalgamation of the Forces in 1968, RCAF Station Namao was redesignated Canadian Forces Base Edmonton (Lancaster Park), under command Air Transport Command and later Air Command.

Units occupying the station included 408 Tactical Helicopter Squadron, 418 “City of Edmonton” Air Reserve Squadron, 435 Transport Squadron, 440 Transport and Rescue Squadron and 447 Transport Helicopter Squadron.

In 1993, the base was designated as 18 Wing Edmonton in accordance with the newly implemented “Wing-concept”, but this was to be short-lived as there was more change in the wind.

Federal Government budget cuts forced the command of the air station to be transferred to Land Force Command in 1994.  The base was re-designated as CFB Edmonton, and known locally as Edmonton Garrison – Steele Barracks, named for Sir Sam Steele.

The runways were closed to air traffic except for a 148ft x 492ft section of 03/21 for use by helicopters.

The base saw expansion with the closure of CFB Calgary in 1997, as units previously located there were re-located to Steele Barracks.

With the closure of Griesbach Barracks in 2000, all units located there were eventually re-located to Steele Barracks over a number of years.  The Royal Canadian Artillery Band remained at Griesbach until September 2004 and Land Force Western Area Headquarters (LFWA HQ) remained until 2014.

In 2014, the base was re-named 3rd Canadian Division Support Base Edmonton, following the Federal Government’s re-introduction of separate service identities, although still known locally as Edmonton Barracks – Steele Barracks.

In December 2017, 3rd Canadian Division (formerly LFWA HQ) moved into to a new 8,159 square metre building at Steele Barracks, one that also houses 1 Area Support Group Headquarters, the Joint Task Force West, and 3rd Canadian Division Support Group.

In addition to being the headquarters of the 3rd Canadian Division, the highest military authority in western Canada, and a number of brigade groups, including 1 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group (1 CMBG).

Currently, units posted to the base include the 3rd Battalion, Princes Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians) and 1 Combat Engineer Regiment, along with 408 Tactical Helicopter Squadron.

Sources: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CFB_Edmonton, http://www.army-armee.forces.gc.ca/en/cfb-edmonton/index.page


Camp Wainwright:

Established on the site of the former Buffalo National Park in 1941. As no permanent barracks existed at the time, the first occupants of the camp, the 6th Infantry Division, were quarters in tents.

In 1944 Internment Camp 103 was established on site and 1700 German POW’s were imprisoned here until July 1946, after which the camp reverted to a training area for Regular and Reserve force soldiers.

In 1950, 25 Infantry Brigade, Canada’s Army commitment to the UN’s Commonwealth Contingent in Korea, began training here, but it wasn’t until 1952 that the camp’s first permanent buildings were constructed.

In July 1974, the First Canadian Mechanized Brigade Operational Training Detachment, the successor to the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (PPCLI) Regimental Depot, was established at Camp Wainwright. The Operational Training Detachment was re-named the PPCLI Battle School on 1 May 1984 and the Land Force Western Area Training Centre Battle School in 1996.

Today Camp Wainwright , featuring 609 square kilometers of training area, 25 weapon ranges from pistol to artillery and an airfield sufficient to land transport aircraft, is the largest training area in Western Canada and the primary training area for the Regular and Reserve Force Army and Air Force units of the Western area. Other users of the camp are Cadet units, the British Army, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Corrections Canada.

In April 2006 the Canadian Manoeuvre Training Centre, officially opened at Camp Wainright, a unique training centre that prepares troops for deployment to such areas as Afghanistan.

In July 2008, 60 newly-built PMQS were unveiled at Camp Wainright.

Source Material: History of Buffalo National Park-Camp Wainwright – http://www.agt.net/public/ppclibsl/html_files/camp_wainwright.htm

Permanent link to this article: https://militarybruce.com/abandoned-canadian-military-bases/the-future/alberta/

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