The Adventures of Ginger, Bog, and Barf – Ex Maple Guardian 0802

By Capt R.A. Cooper
24 November 2008

From 14 October to 3 November, C Squadron capped off its seven weeks in Wainwright with Ex Maple Guardian 0802 (Ex MG 0802). This exercise took place in a Level 6/7 (Battle Group/Brigade) context, and was the standard by which the 2 R22eR Battle Group was declared operationally ready by the CLS, LGen Leslie. Ex MG serials test deploying task forces in a realistic environment against a dynamic, thinking enemy, provided by the almost 300 strong CMTC COEFOR, a mix of military and civilian actors playing everything from civilians to insurgents. The “score” was kept by the Weapons Effects System (WES), a high-tech “laser tag” system that linked everything from dismounted soldiers and civilians to our Leopard C2 MBTs and everything in between.

In addition, C Squadron was privileged to have a very experienced Armour Observer/Controller (OCT) team staffed by Maj Mark Lubiniecki, Capt Marshall Douglas, MWO Bill Crabbe, WO Tony Mosher, and WO John Harju. This very operationally experienced crew provided 24 hour coverage and a great deal of “sober second thought” for the Squadron. The OCTs kept the squadron honest about its performance and provided a great deal of excellent feedback and lessons learned through the After Action Review process.

Right from the Transfer of Command Authority (TOCA) at 1200 hrs on 20 October, “Wainghanistan” lit up with enemy contacts, mines and IEDs. The operational pace for the squadron and BG never let up, with at least nine major BG directed operations, multiple daily QRF calls, and RPG and Mortar attacks on FOB Mas’um Ghar Wx (Centurion Field), our home away from home. Despite the relentless pace, morale within the squadron remained excellent, at least partially due to the nicknames of the three Troop Leaders.

1st Troop was commanded by Lt Dan Gray, also known as “Ginger” by peers and subordinates alike. 3rd (Op Reserve) Troop was led by Lt Graham Kallos, who went through many nicknames before he walked into an evening coord session after a long day of fighting with a mottled pattern of dirt on his face that immediately stuck a chord with squadron leadership born before 1980. In his combat gear and helmet with brown patches of dust, he was a dead ringer for “Barf”, John Candy’s character from Space Balls. Barf was a Mog (half man/half dog), and soon Lt Kallos could be heard telling his soldiers: “I’m my own best friend.”

2nd Troop, under command of Lt Adam Brown, was more difficult to pin down. The SSM, MWO Richard Stacey, decided early on that his name was “Smirk”, but it wasn’t adopted by his soldiers and didn’t stick. His walk bore a strong resemblance to the A&W mascot, “Root Bear”, but that name didn’t feel right. It wasn’t until a B Company Combat Team operation on 1 November that he truly found his niche through his own actions.

During Op OQAB WAHEL, 1st and 2nd Troops under command of our RCD import, Capt Dave Gottfried, deployed into Shah Wali Kot district with B Coy CT. The goal of the Combat Team was to disrupt insurgent operations and clear the district of an effective insurgent presence. During the heat of the moment, Lt Brown and some infantry attachments gave chase to a red Chevrolet Silverado in the badlands south of Highway 4 (Blue Route). In a valiant attempt to cut off the fleeing pickup, Lt Brown attempted to skirt a small lake, forgetting that age old adage: “where bullrushes grow, tanks do not go.” His tank promptly sunk up to the sideskirts. His Tp WO, WO Ted Amos, wisely decided not to follow, and “Bog” was born.

During the 14 days of force on force operations for Ex MG 0802, C Squadron participated in nine deliberate operations, responded to eighteen QRF calls, participated in framework operations, and endured mortar and direct fire attacks in many of the FOBs it stayed in. Throughout, the squadron did not detonate a single insurgent IED or mine, though it discovered many and breached a number of mine fields. Many valuable lessons learned were drawn from both the OCTs and each other, and the squadron truly became part of the 2 R22eR BG family.

Despite the many adventures, everyone in C Squadron heaved a large sigh of relief when the bus finally pulled back into the parking lot of the Harvey Building at 2200 hrs on 4 November. It had been a long time coming, but C Squadron was finally home, at least for a little while…