Exercise Steele Resolve
By Cpl Sibulak
28 Aug 2008
10 July 2008 saw C Sqn LdSH(RC) take another important step on the dusty road to Khandahar. Over one hundred soldiers traded the comforts of home for the canvas of Wainwright and the opportunity to practice their trades in a more realistic setting. The first days of vehicle maintenance flew by as crews worked well into the evenings to ensure they would not suffer the ignominy of returning to base attached to a tow cable. The lack of sleep did little to dampen spirits, however, and if the promise of hot coffee and fresh baking were not enough to rouse the deepest sleepers for the days’ adventures, the Master Corporals proved themselves more than up to the task.
The addition of members from First Troop (12RBC) and Leopard Gunnery Course 0802 quickened the pace of training and crews were kept busy preparing for and executing days of continuous firing on the ranges. The weather was surprising dependable for Wainwright, known for fickle conditions at the best of times: cool mornings, blisteringly hot afternoons, and spectacular thunderstorms at night. Those soldiers working on range targets found a small respite from the blazing sun – Saskatoon bushes covered the range and ripe handfuls of berries made the heavy labour much easier to bear.
Second Troop was pulled away from its savage destruction of plywood targets to work with students from Britain’s Royal Military Academy Sandhurst on their final exercise before graduating. Canadian tanks assisted British, American, French, and Omanian soldiers in clearing operations against a village defended by soldiers from the Royal Gurkha Rifles, a daunting task for any commander much less ones still in the process of earning their commissions. The fearsome opposition that the Gurkhas are so famous for was an awesome sight to behold and gunners were thankful that they were witnessing it through a twelve-time zoom. With the enemy defeated and students promoted, second troop was invited to join the celebrations with “fizzy wine and breakfast.” They only received one of these and the reader can likely make an accurate guess. No operation is complete without hero photos and Sgt Clarke’s tank is well on its way to becoming an international star. Not only did it provide a backdrop for countless pictures that morning, but likely set the world record for the most Gurkhas crammed onto an armoured vehicle –there was not a single tank part visible by the time they were ready to say “cheese.”
The two weeks spent in Wainwright by C Sqn LdSH(RC) were at times frustrating, difficult, and exhausting. It provided an excellent snapshot of the conditions that will be endured, and overcome, in the preparation for overseas deployment. Mistakes were made, lessons learned, and habits ingrained. It is only a short time before C Sqn returns to Wainwright where it will continue on the winding dirt road to Khandahar, it will be easier trip because of these two weeks.