Lt M.C. Dullege, 60
16 November 2009

Fall gives way for winter and training presses on.

This fall has been a flurry of training activity for the Recce Sqn troops bound for Op PODIUM. Several unseasonably warm fall days were spent in the training area brushing up on dismounted recce skills that may have been covered in mud and dust from all that time spent cruising around in tanks in Afghanistan. Time was also spent getting back to the basics of rifle marksmanship, with the successful completion of the PWT 1-3.

The effort was well spent getting everyone on the same page as was shown with well preformed patrols and section attacks in the training area. A few hard lessons were given out by an active and aggressive opposition force and more than a few soldiers also personally learned that a ghillie suit works surprisingly well in the grass and dirt. Good soldier skills have been reinforced to pave the way to our more formal and likely much colder training this winter.

Following Individual Battle Task Standard and Op PODIUM Battle Mission Specific training, Recce Squadron gathered its strength and kicked out the door for a three day winter mobility, avalanche, basic winter warfare and snowmobile training circuit held in Revelstoke, British Columbia. After beginning our 7 (or was that 11?) hour bus ride at 0500hrs, spirits were high as we got a not-so-familiar tour of the Albertan countryside on the way to B.C. A time-eating error landed both buses in Radium Hot Springs with a mere three hours, give or take, to go before reaching Revelstoke. The lead bus driver drove as quickly as possible, hoping that driving fast would eliminate all traces of his error, while the trailing bus driver could not see far enough up the road to drive quickly.

After 11 hours on the bus we arrived in Revelstoke. After a brief reprieve it was back on the bus and we moved to our initial position on the mountain. Due to a sudden heavy snowfall further up the mountain several vehicles, personnel, food, water and POL were stuck and unable to reach the peak. Reacting on short notice, 80 soldiers put their tents up and began camp routine on the pull-off section of a highway at the base of the mountain. Snowmobile patrols were immediately sent up the hill to secure some POL, food and water, and soon the troops had eaten and were somewhat happier. What was next?

Patrol of course. Patrols were immediately tasked to build on dismounted tactics and snowmobile training. The remainder of the week was filled with dismounted patrolling, snowshoeing and snowmobiling through the snow covered wilds of Revelstoke. The TQMS identified the need to move the next serial across the river to Frisbee Ridge to maximize training value, and on the last day we began shuttling stores and soldiers to that location to set up for the next serial of training. Meanwhile, the remaining Recce Sqn soldiers pulled down our camp and deployed to the LD/staging area to wait for transport back to Edmonton.

The return ride home proved just as eventful as the previous trip. After being coached on the subtleties of the highway traffic act the bus driver seemed to have it down when, just outside Calgary, he reached the end of his allowable hours and stopped in the right hand lane of the highway. On the highway. Lt Mike Dullege crew commanded him to a safer position before he was relieved by a much more comforting driver. The Sqn returned the Regiment at around 0700hrs, turned in weapons and headed home for an honest day off with 80 soldiers basic winter warfare, winter mobility, avalanche awareness and snowmobile qualified.

An excited hum seems to have developed as we all get ready for the continuing series of winter exercises in the up coming months. Tents, stoves, lanterns, Coyotes and long packed away parkas are all being checked over for serviceability. Hopefully no one unpacks a nasty surprise at the end of a long cold day, although that seems unlikely given the attention being given to the kit its preparation. The prospect of getting to one of the last steps on our path to the Olympics is undoubtedly helping that excited hum along.