Ain’t No Rest For the Wicked! – B Squadron on Ex STEELE SABRE
By Cpl Blake Shepherd
This year’s Exercise STEELE SABRE saw a well-honed B Squadron conduct a lot of meaningful training in a very short amount of time. You see dear reader; this exercise was also my first time back on the tanks in about 4 years! To say I was excited, amped up, and itchin’ to roll heavy across the Wainwright wastelands once again is an understatement. As I write this article, it’s really hard not to just ramble on about what a great time it was for a Tanker to Tank again, so I’ll do my best to stick to the meat of the Squadron’s activities and keep my opinion to myself.
We got warmed up right away by getting up at O’dark-stupid for a load-bearing march through sand and over hills for about 13km or so to the range. The truck full of orange slices apparently got lost, but fortunately I weighed myself down with a few extra pounds worth of candy to share at the end. That was pretty much all the fuel we really needed to conduct our PWT 1-3 there. Many found the run-down a bit more challenging with rubber legs!
Delighted at having confirmed our carbine prowess once again, we then went over to the Gas Hut. Sgt Andrew Foster and MCpl Chris Clegg had ample time to get it “nice and spicy” for us to mask up and dance around in. Special mention to Cpl Christopher Allard, who forgot to mask up before shouting the warning for the gas! With “gas clear” and our first training day complete; we headed on to our next objective, which was to conduct Gunfighter training under Maj Alex Nitu. The OC’s skilled instruction did much to further sharpen our basic shooting skills. We cleaned up our “workspace” and got down to business “looking in.”
After a couple of great days and many rounds down range, it was time to return to Peregrine 9 to mount up and roll out in our great metal beasts in order to stretch our tracks and do some dry training. I’m quite certain we were all singing joyous battle songs as we roared out of camp. We then “boxed up” outside Seville Farm to conduct some Urban Ops training. This mostly involved us blasting each other with sim-munition and clearing rooms. Beautiful chaos and a lot of swearing ensued…while a box full of smoke grenades remained open and untouched back at the ammo point. Although the kill-death ratios might remain a point of hot contention, we all learned a little about ourselves and got a nice glimpse into the world of the crunchies.
Our dismounted capabilities further strengthened, it was time to prepare for our live ranges and the obliteration of many marauding wooden targets. Cue the rain and fog! Despite the frequent (and muddy) necessity of hot-swapping crews into the runner-gunners we had, and a visit from some civilian guests during the worst best of the rain, the range was completed successfully.
We returned to P9 for “debriefing and cocktails” in the proper Strathcona form with a good Smoker. It memorably began with MCpl Justin “PSL” Monge stepping up as the Squadron’s fiercest warrior to face off against the other Squadrons’ chosen goons in brutal hand-to-hand-err… sleeping bag-to-sleeping bag combat. We also proudly saw callsign 21C recognized as the top crew with MCpl Chris Clegg, MCpl Derek Popoff, Cpl Christopher Allard, and Tpr Owen Parkes. The fire of my warrior spirit was rekindled as we tarped our armoured steeds and headed home for some well-earned rest.