A Squadron Update - March 2018

by Capt Alex Neshcov

A Squadron has been busy since coming back from Christmas Leave. The Squadron has been occupied with Road to High Readiness preparations in anticipation of Ex REFLEXE RAPIDE and Ex MAPLE RESOLVE later this spring.

With the Regiment tasked to run Ex STRONG CONTENDER, the first part of January was taken up with planning and organizing the various sports events. A Squadron found itself running Powerlifting, under the care of Capt Leland Kirkham and MCpl Mitch Croxall, and Ice Hockey, under the care of Capt Alex Neshcov and MCpl Mike Dobson. The entire Squadron participated either as competitors, worker bees, or as fans cheering on the Regimental teams. Cpl Dylan Friel and Cpl Mathieu Ouellet in particular played major roles on the Ice Hockey team, with Cpl Ouellet leading the charge for most minutes spent in the penalty box. Cpl Aaron Poitras and Tpr Sean Tong performed very well at Powerlifting, but Cpl Poitras stole the show lifting more than twice his own body weight.

At the end of January, Maj Paul Leonard, Capt Varun Vahal, Capt Alex Neshcov, and Capt Leland Kirkham departed Edmonton to Valcartier, Quebec to participate in Ex UNIFIED RESOLVE. This computer-assisted exercise is a required milestone for 5 GBMC as part of High Readiness training. This was also a great opportunity for the Squadron leadership to meet with the leaders from 5 GBMC that will be coming to Wainwright in the spring for further collective training and live-fire ranges.

Meanwhile 2nd Troop, under the leadership of WO Stu McLoughlin, were eagerly preparing for their Small Unit Exchange to Chile in February. When Capt Kirkham returned from Quebec he immediately joined his troop to deploy to Iquique, Chile to train with CECOMBAC, the Chilean Armoured Corps School. During the exchange, they participated in a field exercise in the Atacama Desert. They also had the opportunity to partake in a number of cultural activities, and to see a good portion of the country with their Chilean counterparts. I expect you will be hearing much more about this trip in the near future on this very page.

A Squadron has also had a number of soldiers earning new qualifications as students on various wheeled truck courses being run throughout the Regiment. Some soldiers were qualified as Leopard 2 drivers, while others received the TAPV D&M or RWS qualifications. MCpls Kyle Dunphy, Henry Chen, and Mark Weir imparted their knowledge of the operation of the newly introduced TAPV as instructors for an eager group of students, and everyone is looking forward to putting this vehicle through its paces in Wainwright this spring.    

Not to be lost in all of these activities is the hard work that A Squadron Maintenance Troop is conducting under the watchful eye of Sgt Mark Lewis. Much work needs to be done preparing the tanks for the upcoming spring exercises, and this falls on the shoulders of the very capable soldiers under his charge. They do not do this work alone, as Crewmen both assist with and conduct their own maintenance. The Leopard 2 fleet continues its major TMI updates and inspections from the past year, and this will continue throughout the rest of this year as well. These upgrades are being done in addition to the annual chassis inspections, turret inspections, and normal repairs and maintenance. Everyone in the Squadron is contributing to these efforts.

As all this hard work continues on a daily basis, A Squadron continues to look forward to the 100th Anniversary celebrations of Moreuil Wood. This is especially true for those soldiers who are heading to France to see the battlefield in person. With major exercises looming in April and May, the soldiers will take an extremely well-earned March Break in short order to prepare their minds and bodies for the exciting road ahead.