No Pride on the Prairie – Ex PRAIRIE STORM
By Trooper Ryan Stone, Recce Sqn
Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians) Recce Squadron sent a Raven MUAS patrol to Exercise PRAIRIE STORM in CFB Suffield from 22 May - 04 June 2018 to augment our affiliated Regiment, the Royal Lancers (UK).
Working in conjunction with the Royal Lancers’ C Sqn, our MUAS Raven Tp integrated with British ISTAR assets to quickly identify enemy positions and movement. As a team, we established a new dynamic with our British counterparts through use of the Raven and intimate support. Aside from adding depth to traditional mounted reconnaissance, we were able to quickly obtain observation on enemy movements in an extremely efficient manner. Operated by Sgt Thomas “Practically a Lancer” Underwood, MCpl Kerrie “Maverick” Jesse, MCpl Nick “Ice Man” Norman, and Tpr Cole “Constable” Foster, the Raven team could gain eyes on an objective in less 20 minutes once in position, which made us both an integral Sqn asset and also painted a large target on our backs.
Along with proving the effectiveness of the Raven MUAS while employed in the Battle Group context, we were also given first-hand experience of how mobile the TAPV’s were after a few days of rain. Tpr Ryan “These Things are Amphibious, Right?” Stone sent a vehicle into the mud of a river bed, and Tpr Colton “I Don’t Care How Big Ya Are, I’ll Fight Ya” Springer found his vehicle stuck in some equally ‘questionable’ terrain. Somehow, the ultra-lightweight G-Wagon crewed by 2Lt Tom “Not a Doctor” Clackson and Capt Tim “I Miss My Bison” McHugh seemed to navigate through without issue, much to the chagrin of the TAPV crews. Indeed, what the Suffield training area lacks in trees it makes up for in clustered tank ruts which would put the trench systems of the WWI Western Front to shame. Despite these limitations, we proved that the TAPV could hold up to two weeks of torture-testing through adverse terrain and still be ready to go on the next operation.
Working alongside our British counterparts proved to be a successful and a rewarding experience for all of those involved. The Royal Lancers’ C Sqn was nothing if not entertaining to work with. When the Raven Tp was not employed defining the enemy presence, we could be observed eating no less than a dozen bags of chips per man on maintenance days while MCpl Richard “You Guys Want Some Pop?” Ford distributed treats en masse. This was fabulous for the morale of our soldiers, and also for the Lancers, who earned sums of money rivalling the Alberta GDP from our canteen contributions. In the end, we were happy to say goodbye to the plains of Suffield but sorry to leave behind our British allies.