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Results of military exercises released after they wrap up Nov. 6

Next week's Exercise Gold won't involve helicopters


Ever wonder when Whistler became ground zero for Vietnam 2.0?

Since the summer the skies have been littered with choppers, and October provided no respite as the Integrated Security Unit carried out Pegasus Guardian Three, its last military exercise before the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Throughout Whistler residents heard the clap of helicopter blades, while further south in Howe Sound Orca-class training vessels patrolled the waters alongside a Navy frigate.

Residents simply couldn't ignore the exercise, but it will be some time before they learn what it was all about.

Pegasus Guardian Three took place as part of Exercise Gold, the last of three security exercises to determine preparedness for the Games. The results of the military exercise are to be released at the end of Exercise Gold, on Nov. 6, according to Staff Sgt. Mike Cote, a spokesman for the ISU.

"We're not going to come out with what worked and didn't work until Exercise Gold is done," he said Thursday. "Lessons learned out of Pegasus Guardian Three will be encompassed in Exercise Gold."

Cote said the Integrated Security Unit will release a final report that will make clear what security operators learned as part of the practice operations.

Without knowing precisely what's going on, the military and security exercises have nevertheless had an impact on the lives of corridor citizens. Whistler resident Alex Kleinman described his own encounter with security forces while out on a walk one evening.

Kleinman and a friend were walking his dog on the Valley Trail near the Whistler Golf Course one night last week when they suddenly heard helicopters overhead.

"You couldn't mistake it, they had two or three birds in the air making noise up and down the valley," he said

Without volunteering for any military exercises he suddenly became an unwitting participant as one of the helicopters directed its spotlight on him for a few seconds.

"At first I thought, maybe I didn't see that," he said. "Maybe it was really the lights from one of the houses at the edge of the golf course. We walked through a shadow but it was a round light from above, not from the side.

"It's not an entirely comfortable thing for me to be a guinea pig."

Though he understands that Olympic security has an important job to do he didn't enjoy being an accidental volunteer.

"I didn't volunteer to be in any exercises," he said. "That's really the extent of the issue, really, bottom line, get my willing co-operation or find another way to do your work.

"During the Olympic time, no issues there. During that time they need to be on task, go ahead, spotlight me, check me out, that's part of their job. But their job I don't think has entirely started yet."

Exercise Gold takes place Nov. 2-6. A spokesman with Public Safety Canada, the ministry overseeing the exercise, said that it will have no adverse effect on Whistler residents. He specifically promised no helicopters.