By Capt Rebecca Evans
12 June 2009
Since Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians) was identified as the lead unit for tank squadron deployments to Afghanistan, Headquarters Squadron has not deployed to the field as a sub-unit in support of the Regiment. With the upcoming regimental deployment to Vancouver in support of the 2010 Olympics, Ex DESERT RAM 09 became a critical training event for Headquarters Squadron who once again set out to take on the vital mission of sustainment.
Headquarters Squadron has traditionally been comprised of a strong mix of the combat arms and support trades. The armour soldiers, having first hand experience fighting with tanks on the battlefield, provide essential advice and knowledge on replenishment requirements; in turn, the support trade soldiers afford the expert technical advice required to ‘fix the tank’ or ‘feed the masses.’ The strong partnership was evident during Ex DESERT RAM where the multi-faceted team once again came together to sustain the Regiment. Despite the long period of time Headquarters went without deploying, the great teamwork amongst all trades was evident.
CFB SUFFIELD’s location provided numerous challenges to replenishment. Because of its farther distance from CFB EDMONTON than WAINWRIGHT, returning home to pick up more equipment on short order became difficult and forced the squadron to engage in more forward planning. On the maintenance side, some critical tank repairs were also trying, and thanks to a little hospitality from our British brothers, a temperature controlled workshop was eventually located. Although sometimes frustrating, the small obstacles proved to be worthwhile as soldiers were challenged to develop viable courses of action to ensure support operations remained strong.
Although Headquarters Squadron’s mission to sustain the Regiment started out quite simple, the Level 7 exercise quickly shifted the squadron’s focus to combat. Switching from the support role to an asymmetrical enemy force was an easy transition and after the distribution of one hundred pairs of manjamis, the squadron was ready to close with and destroy the enemy; Headquarters Squadron, augmented by forty soldiers from 3 PPCLI and 1 RCHA and a troop from Recce Squadron, stealthily deployed to SANJARAY to occupy the abandoned village and wait for the oncoming enemy. Armed with C7’s, rubber AK’s, FAR IED’s and kites, Headquarters Squadron, under the command of the evil Haji Baies Sauvages (Maj Chris Adams) was ready to take on the approaching Coalition Forces. Although the roaming patrols were strip searched numerous times, no one was taken hostage (the brigade G4, Maj Heilman, however, was taken into holding after a slight altercation with the town mayor).
Although it may not be widely agreed upon, the exercise ended with Headquarters Squadron defeating the enemy and winning the war – perhaps not in a traditional sense, as asymmetrical warfare is difficult to measure, but in the sense that we had provided a realistic enemy force for the battle group to defeat. Headquarters Squadron’s deployment on Ex DESERT RAM seemed rather long at times - there is no disputing that. The exercise, however, proved to be much required for HQ Squadron – not only did the Squadron re-establish its vital role in Regimental sustainment, but it also brought to surface the underlying strength of brotherhood that binds us all together.