Lt M. Dullege
31 May 2010
In-keeping with the extremely high pace of the Regiment currently, April/May was no different with Recce Sqn and C Sqn kicking out the door to support the Combat Team Commander’s Course in sunny Wainwright. The CTCC is generally accepted to be a good training environment for Sqns and this year was no different. The course represented a more compact Maple Guardian, if not a small view of the road to high readiness for TF 1-11. Recce Sqn took time prior to the course starting to conduct 5 days of their own training and get the Recce chops back up that so many years of tank rotos had slowly eroded and, as always, time spent on Recce was not wasted.
We started off the training with the establishment of our own camp and CP just outside of the FOB/MOB/KAF. A little bit of stand-off is always preferable for Recce whose soldiers typically enjoy a longer leash. It also provided some who were new to working with the Patricia’s the outside window of view into the anything-goes dress standard once deployed to the field. I think there was even a dude wandering around in a bright yellow ski suit at one point. Just hanging out, no big deal.
The OC, Maj Mead, constructed several scenarios off-the-cuff for both troops to conduct tasks and training more in line with doctrine. Realizing the huge gap from tank fighting in Afghanistan, the Regiment’s time on Op PODIUM, and the relatively young age of the Sqn, Maj Mead expertly eased the soldiers, Troop Leaders and his HQ into the battlespace and into our expected tasks.
Always one step behind, or ahead depending on your perspective, the SSM, MWO HALL, set up his “Dirty Burger” canteen anywhere soldiers were and Cpl Crowe, with his receptionist Tpr Norman, was ready and willing to serve anyone with the cash. The canteen did fairly well out in the field this go around and special thanks need to go out to 3VP who still haven’t figured out that the LAV III can carry all sorts of goodies in the ever-present IMP avoidance game which is played so masterfully by the Strathcona’s.
1st Troop performed exceptionally well throughout the duration of the exercise while being led by Lt Wawrzyn and Sgt Bolger. Always attempting to be more aggressive, Lt Wawrzyn did happen to cut his chin open early in the training. Luckily Cpl Van Heerdon can knit one pearl two, and a touching photo of the Troopie’s gunner putting a band-aid on the cut is in existence. This troop conducted their “alone-time” training in the annex later in the course and took the time to recoup prior to the final course push.
2nd Troop performed admirably as well, conducting significant training taking the soldiers to Recce routes prior to the course kicking off. Once the course kicked off it was 2nd Troop which often caught the most significant tasks for a combat team attack and they performed very well. 2nd Troop was led well by Lt Prince and WO Young. Some are still haunted by Lt Prince’s bird-man mask. There is no photographic evidence, thank God, of this article in existence.
3PPCLI C/S 6 was cut to Recce Sqn to provide the Close Recce support throughout. Led by Lt Peabody, C/S 6 soldiers performed admirably and the integration with LdSH(RC) Recce elements was, in the opinion of many, as smooth as possible. Although rough initially the integration with C/S 6 had reached a good ebb and flow by ENDEX. Not always accepted by their unit or ours, C/S 6 had performed so well so consistently that, by the end, all of Recce Sqn welcomed them to Fort Recce as brothers.
Although the Troops were doing well it was, as always, SHQ (working in concert with Adm Tp) pulling up the Sqn’s socks throughout the conduct of the course. SHQ, led by the BC, Capt McGowan, was given the monumental role of tracking the battle, relaying info to higher and, at the same time, being solely responsible for any and all comms breakdowns regardless of location or malfunction. The BC kept a tight grip on the CP staff and, at one point, denied food and water due to poor performance. Luckily the food denied was camp-food and the individuals involved were probably at less risk. The LO, Lt Dullege, was given the task of Force-choking people through the radio at all times, which he did with ease/pleasure when information began to be muddled on the means. Later in the exercise the LO, with Tpr Lonegren at the wheel and Tpr “Shifty” Matthews in the rear, pushed out to establish both mobile and rolling CPs to aid in communications throughout the traces. The CP Sergeant/Ops Sergeant/Sig Sergeant MCpl Biller was run ragged as always. According to some sources MCpl Biller runs better on no sleep and he proved it once again. Several times deploying with the LO, MCpl Biller was responsible for monitoring comms in case of degradation and, as always, our comms were outstanding. Not the same for higher but that may be subject matter for a different article.
Of course none of this could run without the SQMS, WO King, and his crew working tirelessly to provide more than the lions’ share of equipment and stores when required. In the early days of the course, when the weather was cold, it was WO King’s ability to secure heaters that made him a friend to all. Later on in the course it was the food, laundry, and the multitude of other services he rendered without question that made him more so. His uncanny ability to ask straightforward and common-sense questions also got him “thrown” out of the (it seemed bi-hourly) co-ord held to discuss camp admin issues. Hard-hitting issues like where empty milk cartons go and who is on kitchen duty.
All in all, by the end of the course it was universally accepted [in the CP] that the course was indeed harder on the soldiers, Recce in particular, than it was on the students. It was also universally recognized [in the Troops] that significant lessons were taken out of the experience that can be called upon in future operations and exercises.