2IC Strathcona's - Update

By Major Trevor Cadieu
22 August 2007

I am writing to update you on the activities of your Regiment and the progress of our soldiers serving abroad.

A Sqn. Two soldiers from A Sqn sustained minor injuries on 17 August when the TLAV they were traveling in was struck by a large IED as they deployed on a resupply mission. They were air evacuated to the Kandahar Airfield. Both soldiers have been released from hospital and are expected to make a full recovery. It will come as no surprise that everyone responded with great professionalism to this incident, and our troops completed their mission once the casualties were evacuated. While A Sqn continues to endure temperatures in excess of 50 degrees Celsius, our tank crews are now equipped with cooling suits that have reduced the number of heat casualties sustained by the Sqn. The soldiers of this team will continue to epitomize our motto, 'Perseverance', as they will remain engaged in combat operations until the end of the deployment. An A Sqn Leopard responded earlier in the week to an enemy rocket attack, reinforcing with the Taliban once again the capabilities of our tanks, and the sub unit returned very recently from an operation with 3rd Battalion R22eR Battle Group. A Sqn will return to Edmonton mid-September for some extremely well deserved leave.

Joint Task Force - Afghanistan. Major-General Tim Grant, the Senior Serving Strathcona, returned to Canada safely last week following a nine-month tour and after being targeted recently by a suicide bomber and mortar fire while visiting his troops deployed forward. Several Strathcona's serving at Joint Task Force - Afghanistan Headquarters (Lieutenant-Colonel Tom Bradley, Major Kevin Mead, Capt Mike Gough, Capt Dave Cronk) also returned, as did the Commander's TAC Crew (Sgt Daley, Sgt Hardy, Cpl Starr, Cpl Sorrell).

C Sqn. This team has completed an arduous period of pre-deployment training away from home, which included two months in Wainwright, and a month each in Texas and Germany for Leopard 2 conversion training. The Sqn commenced leave following a farewell event end-July, and they will depart Edmonton on the 28th of the month. A testament to the contribution of the Corps to combat operations in Afghanistan, C Sqn is commanded by a Strathcona headquarters, it is comprised of troops from each of the Regular Force regiments, and a number of Reservists have augmented this team. I have attached to this note photos of the first Leopard 2 that arrived in Afghanistan yesterday morning. Members of our operational reserve troop have deployed to receive and prepare these vehicles for combat.

B Sqn. B Sqn has already commenced training for its return to Afghanistan in February. As many of the soldiers and leaders in this team have recent combat experience, it was no surprise they performed exceptionally well last month while conducting troop-level live fire training in Wainwright. The Sqn will deploy to Wainwright again in September for Exercise DESERT RAM, followed by an aggressive collective training validation exercise at the Canadian Manoeuvre Training Centre. The Sqn Headquarters and all of the troop leaders are currently deployed to Shilo, where they have linked up with the 2nd Battalion Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry Battle Group for a Computer Assist Exercise.

E Coy. Several soldiers from E Coy have recently been called upon to deploy to Afghanistan as individual augmentees to the Operational Mentor and Liaison Team to train the Afghan National Army, the Provincial Reconstruction Team and the Counter-IED Team. A cadre of soldiers and leaders will remain at the Regiment for the foreseeable future to maintain this significant TOW ITAS capability and facilitate cross-training for our crewmen.

Regimental Headquarters (RHQ)/Headquarters Squadron. RHQ is engaged heavily in coordinating the Regiment's support to Exercise DESERT RAM, Exercise MAPLE GUARDIAN, and the fall PCF Leopard gun camp. With a tank sqn deployed, another poised to launch, and the third commencing pre-deployment training, Headquarters Squadron soldiers are shouldering the bulk of individual tasks assigned to the Strathcona's, while continuing to provide to the Regiment exceptional integral support. DLOC training will be conducted in August, and the bulk of Headquarters Squadron will deploy to Wainwright September-October to augment the Tank Safety Staff, Observer Controller and sustainment organizations.

Society/Family Support. In spite of the operational tempo of the Regiment, our Society troops still manage to promote the interests of the Strathcona's in the community. The Mounted Troop was again awarded first place for Ceremonial Mounted Ride entry at the Calgary Stampede and Edmonton Capital Ex Parades, and they are about to enter the final month of a hectic ride season. Due in large part to the extremely generous donations of Spruce Meadows and the ATCO Group, we have been able to purchase a new four-horse trailer to facilitate smaller displays and we have introduced to the herd a number of very well bred horses. Our Family Support Troop has also remains committed to providing to the families and friends of our deployed soldiers service and compassion in spite of manning and fiscal constraints. We remain tremendously grateful for generous donations provided by Mr. Fred Balm and, most recently, EnCana that are being used to fund directly all of our major family support activities and events.