By 2Lt S.V. Thompson, Liaison Officer Recce Squadron
Whereas some may see it as sad to observe a troop of armoured soldiers marching their way through the brush with rucksacks on their backs and grimaces on their faces, we actually enjoyed it. The Troopers were ready and willing to embrace our “mud recce” roots, going as far as to make their own ghillie suits to blend into the bush. Our first week in Wainwright was spent walking long distances and getting re-acquainted with our five senses. No soldier, however, was more motivated than the one known to Recce as "Ghetto" or to the remainder of the Regiment, Tpr Robert McCollum. The young man was made of steel and wonder, and was adamant about finding the enemy first. So focussed was he that he let his patrol depart the patrol base without him, choosing instead to stand alone to guard those arcs with eyes like a hawk. He was that hard. He was that intense. When the troop leader finally noticed him at the 12 o'clock, poised like a gargoyle, and asked him what he was doing there, Tpr McCollum stared back intently. Quietly he licked his lips and gazed into his officer's eyes. "I'm watching my arcs, Sir", he replied in a stoic tone. The troop leader was bewildered, with this single soldier waiting by himself, with nothing but his rifle and his intensity to guard him. Tpr McCollum was so hard that he needed nobody watching his flanks. He didn't need to patrol. Tpr McCollum didn't even need to sleep. He owned those arcs, and that's all that mattered. As he turned back to the 12 o'clock quietly, the troop leader quietly went about his business. His lone soldier, his hardest man, was watching his arcs. We could all sleep safe.
The 25mm gun camp kicked off after a two week break from the end of classes in Garrison. Fresh off the dismounted phase and happy to see our mod tents again, Recce squadron quickly moved to start what would become a 6 day gun camp on Range 16. Just our luck, though the weather held through our patrolling, it wasn’t to be for the day and night shoots. Snow glistened over the range as pot after pot of coffee was emptied waiting for the fog to lift each morning. With Sgt Rob Englehart’s ingenuity with arc markers and preference for coordinated night shoots, the range continued through into the night. Things were kept interesting as the course struggled to hold it together at each attempt of Cpl Kevin Crowe to yell out “M-B-G-Ds Clear”. Concurrent to the gun camp, we ran refresher/familiarization training on the 9mm pistol, 12 ga shotgun, M203 40mm grenade launcher, short-barrelled C9, 66mm M72 rocket, and 84mm Carl Gustav anti-tank rocket. For the most part, these ranges were the first opportunity for the soldiers of Recce Squadron to fire these weapons. Comments ranged from “WICKED!” to “When do we get to shoot again!” Some others put their ingenuity to the test and found very creative ways to make the range a bit more realistic by amassing an army of snowman to unleash Recce fire power on. WO Bob Young, Sgt Tyler Baldwin and found out how well snowmen stood up to shotguns. It didn’t take long to determine that plywood was in fact a better option. Though the Turret Operator Course (TOC) students had to shake off the dust of a few weeks out of the turret, quickly everyone found their footing and the course moved through the live stab runs. Just as quickly as the Squadron had moved into the TOC range, it was handed over to RHQ so we could transition to “dry” training.
This phase of the exercise saw a focus on patrol and troop level manoeuvre. Troop Leaders would receive their hasty set of orders from higher, re-direct a hasty warning order to their troops and out the gates they went in a moment’s notice to carry on with their assigned tasks. Finally Patrol Commanders and Troop Leaders had the chance to manoeuvre their call signs on the battle field using the cover of ground and wood lines, sneaking up on the enemy, gathering information and passing it to higher. Some call signs even had the opportunity to play a bit of sneak and peak with our friends in the tank squadrons.
For the last phase of the exercise, we transitioned back to live fire, this time as formed patrols and troops. We were given a wide open manoeuvre box and some mission objectives, and were unleashed on some unsuspecting plywood targets. For some it was their first time crew commanding, gunning and even driving for such an event, but that didn’t matter. Over our final 48 hours, we demonstrated that a troop can be both sneaky and aggressive. After a very successful three weeks, we once again transitioned, this time back home to our families. Though we love the home front, most of us can’t wait to get back out and “do the business”.