Recce Squadron in Ex DESERT RAM
By Tpr Eric Eastbrooks & Tpr Ryan Jeanson
25 May 2009
On the Monday after spring break, role call was taken. Everyone had made it back from their journeys, to head out once again to CFB Suffield for Ex DESERT RAM.
Making it back to camp on the evening of April 7th, we found out that the camp had not blown away and got settled in for our long task ahead of supporting Task Force 3-09.
Our first few days we set up the Convoy Stand that the squadron was running. We built a village named Bur Mohammed, which was made to look realistic with a mosque, a market & a police sub station. Even though most of us had no real carpentry skills and should be contestants on Canada’s Worst Handyman, the village only partly blew away once. We then decided to fortify it a little to overcome Suffield’s reputable windy weather.
Once the exercise was up and running we all had different tasks that rotated daily. We either played an Afghani civilian or were the Quick Reaction Force (QRF) Troop for the Convoy Stand. On the third day we supported the range as safety staff. Playing an Afghani was the better of the three tasks by far. We got to wait around a village wearing afghani attire for convoys to pass through and grow beards that we kept until the end of the Exercise. The afghani attire was a new experience for us. The pants were all too big like clown pants and the shirts well were not made for well-built soldiers. Tpr Andrew Elms jokingly asked to wear a burka and he ended up getting his wish. During our waiting period it wasn’t uncommon to find people relaxing in the sun, engaged in a nice game of football or soccer, or having friendly sword fights, but don’t worry they all wore their ballistic glasses. Once the convoy arrived, the game began. We had different roles as villagers and had to have different attitudes towards the Coalition Force. We were neutral, needy or hostile to the CF presence. Some even got to be suicide bombers, like Pte Audra Bowers, who took the convoy by surprise!
Safety staff was a simple but arduous task and seeing a Combat Team live fire range up close was very interesting. American Apaches overhead was quite a sight to see, as well as the artillery hitting their mark
QRF was the most educational for the junior members of the Squadron, as many of us had never conducted the task before. Observing the primary training audience was far less stressful than running the gauntlet that they went through. At the end of those days, no matter how long and strenuous, it was wonderful to come back to camp and sit down to a nice hot meal, that the kitchen seemed to out do them selves each day. Thanks go to Sgt Wade Walsh and his crew.
Besides the hourly weather changes, bi-weekly shower runs, stumbling in massive gofer holes, the smell of burning grass, and multiple tire changes, those five weeks went by fast.
Recce Squadron now waits with baited breath and will be getting ready for any task given to support the 2010 Olympics.