EXERCISE STEELE STAG – Counter-insurgency in CZAR-PROVOST corridor
By: Lt Clarkson, 2nd Troop Leader, Recce Squadron
Well-fed and rested after the Thanksgiving Holiday, Recce Squadron re-deployed to Wainwright on 11 October to begin a manoeuvre exercise outside of the usual Wainwright Training Area. In a first for most of the Squadron, we deployed into an area south of Wainwright known as the Czar-Provost corridor, after the two largest towns in the region. With a landscape mainly comprised of small towns, flat farmland and oil and gas installations, it provided a novel and complex task for the Squadron to analyze.
On deployment, the Squadron moved into the community of Metiskow where it established an Operating Base (OB) which included Sanger (sentry) positions, barbed wire fencing and a robust camp security regime. From the OB, daily patrols departed, conducting route/area/point reconnaissance, convoy taskings, Key Leader Engagements (including Media interviews and meetings with the local town and district administrators) and vehicle check points, all in order to provide the Brigade with enough information to deploy follow-on forces. The Squadron was also lucky enough to have two Griffin helicopters from 408 Squadron attached which provided overwatch for convoys, enabled reconnaissance flights and allowed the Squadron to practice Air-Land integration.
Highlights from the exercise included the COEFOR co-opting the residents of Cadogan (a small town near Provost) against the Recce Squadron, which culminated in MCpl Burke and Cpl Fettes being soaked by the town fire truck under the full connivance of Cadogan Fire Department. It was thereafter clear than the residents of Cadogan were supporters of the a local militia aligned with the malicious Donovian regime, a fact that was duly noted by 1st Troop after they had dried out!
The exercise culminated with a Squadron Strike operation on a suspected enemy weapons cache, involving a cordon placed by 1st and 2nd Troop and a dismounted assault by 4th Troop. 1st Troop deployed a dismounted OP to watch the target 12 hours prior to H-Hour and, armed with their eyes-on information, 4th Troop launched on the objective at daybreak. Even 2nd Troop on the outer cordon were busy; having blocked Highway 600 to prevent enemy reinforcement, they spent the morning reassuring puzzled civilians that it was an Army exercise, not a drugs bust! As a result, a High Value Target insurgent was captured, a number of weapons were seized and the local militia was crippled in our area of operations.
Ex STEELE STAG was perhaps the closest and most realistic training a Recce Squadron can undertake prior to deployment. It blended conventional training with the unknown and the unpredictable as well as challenging the Squadron to reconnoitre complex rural and urban terrain. Finally, a special thanks must go to the community of Metiskow who warmly hosted us in their Recreation centre, allowed us to sleep in their skating rink and put up with us driving vehicles around at all hours of the day and night.