B SQUADRON 2013 FALL EX ARTICLE
Lt Darren “Sea-Dub” Carter-Wright
On 17 September 2013, Prince of Wales (B) Squadron deployed to the Wainwright training area to commence Ex STEELE SABRE, and eventually Ex HADES RAM and the Combat Team Commanders Course. The exercise was conducted in two parts with a well deserved break in the middle for Thanksgiving. The first portion consisted of PCF gun camps, while the second focussed on tactical manoeuvre from crew level training all the way to Battle Group level operations.
The exercise began as a live fire confirmation of both the Leopard 1 and 2 Gunnery courses that were being conducted prior to deployment. B Squadron established their first camp just West of Range 16. After a successful course and some impromptu ARV tasks headed up by MCpl Lawrence “I Love my Job” Thompson and Cpl Mattison “Ginger” Smith to save our camp from being engulfed in flames… twice.
Twenty-four soldiers from B-Squadron were qualified Leopard 2 120mm gunnery and five qualified Leopard C2 105 mm gunnery. Spare time was often passed with story time featuring MCpl Ryan “not Matt” Sebo. The PCF gun camps consisted of both static shoots and stab runs at the crew level. On completion of the Gunnery courses, B Squadron moved their camp down to Range 25, a little further from potential fire hazards.
At Range 25, B Squadron began their Level 1-2 training at the crew level, completing both static day and night shoots as well as stab runs with speed and aggression. This culminated in level 3 shoots where troops demonstrated their ability to move tactically while conducting a live fire range. Part one of the exercise concluded with a regimental smoker in Peregrine 9. A highlight of the night’s events saw Lt Justin “David” Rice achieve victory over Lt Ahmad “Goliath” Jaradat in a battle of worm wrestling which Lt Ahmad “Jihad” Jaradat denies to this day ever happened.
Between 6-17 October, B Squadron enjoyed some well deserved time off to rest and spend time with family over the Thanksgiving holiday. During our time in garrison, B Squadron also found time to conduct lessons on Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for the Squadron in a combat team context as well as battle group operations. What comes first again… the chicken or the egg??? Oops I meant the ELAV or the Rollers wondered MCpl Bryson “I told ya so” Murphy. This enabled the Squadron to conduct operations during D+90 training and the Combat Team Commanders Course with speed and aggression.
The return to Wainwright on 18 October 2013 marked the plunge into Ex STEELE SABRE. Troops were able to begin crew level manoeuvre before moving into troop movement, solidifying LD Drills, the Advance to Contact, conducting a Fire Base, hides/harbours, and the withdrawal. Following troop training, B Squadron moved into two days of squadron level training, prior to the Regimental Force on Force which commenced the following day. This day brought the first rain of the Ex, to which Cpl Colin “It got in my coffee” Clare promptly complained during the entire 30 second storm. The Force on Force pitted Prince of Wales Squadron against A Squadron in a battle of attrition using WES gear, which challenged crews in their manoeuvre, gunnery and patience. B Squadron’s last remaining survivor was MCpl Nick “Where’d everyone go” Patterson.
Following this, B Squadron was invited to participate in the D+90 training during Ex HADES RAM. This exercise afforded B Squadron the opportunity to train in austere conditions at the combat team level; working with 1 CER, a FOO/FAC from 1 RCHA and B coy from 1 PPCLI. This training proved to be very valuable and B Squadron demonstrated they were able to command and operate within a combat team on the road to high readiness despite not having completed all the work up training. Unfortunately, Lt Ahmad “This is SPARTAAAA!!” Jaradat couldn’t find his loader, Cpl Max “the human GPS” Gironne during one of the traces. Ex Hades Ram concluded in Buffalo West with a maintenance day and 1 VP showing their hospitality at a well earned smoker.
The changing weather presented challenges to the maintainers as they worked tirelessly to ensure the Squadron was effective. This effort was spear headed by Sgt Yannick “You broke another tank?” Cimon. Constantly relying on being supplied and fed by MCpl Ryan “Coffee and Cigarettes” Pasuta.
The final portion of the 2013 Fall Ex was the Combat Team Commanders Course (CTCC) which kicked off with Ex Patricia’s Judgement under the 1 VP Battle Group. B Squadron led its combat team through three hasty attacks per day over difficult terrain. The badlands proved their name and robbed SSM Steve “I’m one stuck vehicle from punching that guy in the face” Churchill of many hours of sleep as recoveries, injuries and sustainment were tirelessly conducted. Midway through the CTCC, the Battle Group command shifted to LdSH(RC), and kicked B Squadron into high gear for the final leg. The final stretch provided some challenges for the squadron and tested its resolve. With the weather turning to a blizzard, the troops and training area alike were blanketed in a thick layer of snow. Soldiers seemed to make the best of it though with Cpl William “face of steel” Rollins straight up shaving with a bowl of slush. B Squadron saw several stuck tanks, a collision that challenged the Squadron’s leadership and a bout of gastro, which was particularly terrible for our isolated T22 crew who were visiting their primal instincts. Looking out for the health of the crew Cpl Mike “I really just want a coffee” Partington exiled their crew commander to a five man tent well away from the heat of the tank.
Exhausted and with a VOR that would make any armoured soldier cringe, the 2013 Fall Ex finally came to a close on 7 November 2013. With countless lessons learned and irreplaceable experience from several weeks of austere training, B Squadron redeployed to Edmonton looking forward to seeing friends and family and some well deserved days off but not before a quick stop in Viking, AB for Sgt John “I just want a smoke” Goobie.