By: Lieutenant Ross Sturgeon
15 October 2009

Field exercises in CFB Gagetown are often defined by the season in which they fall. Elements of A Squadron, who recently returned from supporting this year’s Combat Team Commander’s Course (CTCC), were fortunate enough to enjoy the short window between ‘bug’ and ‘moose hunting’ season. These fortunate individuals managed to enjoy probably the most elusive and envied annual window the Lawfield Corridor has to offer. This lofty claim deserves further explanation!

Early in September soldiers made their way east via a variety of domestic flights. This briefly required call sign 13, Lieutenant Ross Sturgeon to be dispersed across the country greatly taxing the troop leader’s ability to maintain elements of his appreciation. However, in due time, all parties arrived in New Brunswick and enjoyed an ‘air conditioned’ evening in the newest transitional quarters available on the Camp. Elements of the 12e Regiment Blinde du Canada, based out of CFB Valcartier also joined the fray bringing a troop from Quebec in support. Arriving at FOB Petersville Officer Commanding A Squadron, Major Robert “Hogg” McKenzie, patiently demonstrated the use of school buses for route recce tasks. This ensured all were apprised of surprise road closures and the requisite detour routes. The rest of the day was filled preparing the tanks for exercise and linking up with the final augmentation to our force. Captain Alex Nitu and Captain Jack Nguyen may have thought their recent postings to the Armour School distanced them from the Regiment but nothing could have been further from the truth. Under their leadership two more troops of notional tanks (Tracked Light Armour Vehicles) swelled the ranks. The now complete CTCC A Squadron fell into step like only a coalition of representative forces can. It was time to execute the mission; supporting the free and independent government of Indepencia.

The next weeks were spent executing the orders of a variety of student combat team commanders. Even with the focused efforts of our armour coupled with infantry, artillery and engineer support COFOR was not easily defeated. It was discovered that Captain Evan Wiome had switched alliances as he led his BMPs and T72s in a seemingly endless numbers of suicidal defensive engagements. Only after clearing the Lawfield Corridor twelve separate times were these enemy forces quelled. The Regiment was also well represented in the student cadre with Major Mark Lubiniecki showing off his full beard and Major Chris Nolan demonstrating the correct methods of smoking Cuban cigars on the line of departure.

During brief periods of down time the soldiers demonstrated an extreme dedication to heavy maintenance keeping the tanks running throughout the course. Trooper James Arsenault continued to show his commitment to the moustache providing added camouflage to his upper lip. Trooper Jacob O’Brien managed to defend his stuffed monkey which received continued threats to be placed above a blank 105mm round and fired down range. Trooper Andrew Burris showed his resistance to peer pressure by demanding payment for drinking a bottle of steak sauce during an impromptu BBQ. Warrant Officer Douglas Paquette ensured the tank park was well defended while all components of his FCS systems were systematically replaced. Final entertainment for the exercise was generously provided by the 12e RBC when they demonstrated the ability of a tank to flatten any stripped minivan the enemy force could place in the way.

With weeks more field experience under their belt the mosaic that was CTCC’s A Sqn returned to their respective home units and the Strathconas involved started preparation for their next adventures to Germany, California and onto Afghanistan.