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A member of the Royal Engineers guides a Warrior light tank over a No. 12 bridge.

The British Army Training Unit Suffield (BATUS) is a British Army unit located at the vast training area of Canadian Forces Base Suffield near Suffield, Alberta, Canada.[1] BATUS is the British Army's largest armoured training facility and it can accommodate live-firing and tactical effect simulation (TES) exercises up to battle group level.


The Suffield Block was first utilised by the British forces during the Second World War[citation needed]. A British chemical weapons testing facility was located in French-controlled Algeria, however, upon the conquest of France by Germany, the facility was lost. The British could find no suitable location in the UK and thus an agreement was signed between Canada and the UK to allow the Suffield area to become available to British scientists for testing. Consequently, British and Canadian forces employed the area for a variety of experiments. Upon the end of WWII, the British departed the Suffield area and it was formally taken over by the Canadian Defence Research Board.

In 1969, Colonel Gaddafi orchestrated a coup in Libya, and duly took control of the country and proceeded to, after negotiations, close down British military installations located at El Adem and Tobruk, and additionally American installations located near Tripoli. This presented the UK with quite a dilemma as there were no suitably expansive areas to allow the British Army to undertake armoured warfare exercises on a suitably large scale in Europe. Thus, in 1971, a 10-year lease was signed between the British and Canadian Governments that authorised battle group training to take place in the Suffield area by the British Army. In January 1972 the British Army Training Unit Suffield was formally established. In July the first live rounds were fired by the 4th Royal Tank Regiment Battle Group. In 1981 the lease for Suffield was extended and in 1991, the lease was again extended. In 2006, on the expiration of this lease, the British and Canadian governments concluded an agreement that will allow British forces to maintain their training practices in Canada indefinitely.[2]


An AVRE of the Royal Engineers in Canada in 2005.

Due to the hostile winters, BATUS conducts training from May to October each year. This normally consists of 4 to 6 battlegroups (BGs) each exercising for around 24 days each, supported by the BATUS permanent and temporary staff and a dedicated enemy (traditionally provided by a single nominated regiment). Despite there being relatively few servicemen permanently posted to BATUS, these numbers are significantly increased by temporary staff who form the bulk of the Range Safety and Control Group (RSCG) (which provides live fire safety and training delivery) as well a large proportion of the camp based supporting organisations including a dedicated logistics squadron and a REME workshop.

During the winter months, some specialist arctic warfare training is conducted on the Suffield Block by the Canadian Forces while the UK vehicle fleet is prepared for the following year. Currently, around 40 Challenger 2 tanks, 60 Warrior tracked armoured vehicles, and a similar number of CVR(T) and Bulldog Armoured Fighting Vehicles (AFVs), a fleet of Engineer vehicles including the latest TITAN AVRE and TROJAN AVLB, as well as Gazelle helicopters making up 29 (BATUS) Flight Army Air Corps are based at BATUS.

See also


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