Subaltern PD in the Field
Exercise STEELE LANCE 23 was a busy and dynamic few weeks of tank squadron action and sustainment, providing the new subalterns of the regiment the perfect opportunity for some hands-on learning. Activities ranged from navigation to mounted experience, to the officer’s bread and butter: battle procedure.
For the new subalterns, this was their first exposure to the Wainwright training area. Therefore, the first order of business became familiarization with the ground. With almost all having come from Gagetown, where you only need to look South to see a mountain range, subbies toured the training area, visiting and seeing the major landmarks that will serve them in their future mounted navigation. Their tour took them west from the badlands and the Range 16 tower and down through the Battle River valley. From there they ascended the plateau in the north-west of the training area for an amazing view over Seville Farm and its surrounding plains. There was no shortage of chance encounters with all types of critters in the training area, and by the time we made it back around to the urban center of Rocky Ford, we’d seen everything out there that moves!
A nice big truck is comfortable and all, but these officers joined for the main event, and they didn’t leave disappointed. Over the course of the Exercise during Driver courses and troop traces, the subalterns took every opportunity to ride along in any vehicle available. They each got their first exposure to the Leopard 2A4 Main Battle Tank, riding in the loader’s hole going cross country. Some went out as Opposing Force members with B Squadron OC Major Shumka, while others got to ride with Squadron Sergeant Major MWO Hamilton executing a running replenishment. Be it tank, Light Armoured Vehicle or Tracked Light Armoured Vehicle, there wasn’t an empty seat to be found. A highlight of the outing was being out in Centurion Field with the CO LCol Mallette to watch Lt Ahenakew’s troop come over a crest to our front and move through us as they advance to contact on the Battle Butte ridge.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a complete experience without a little battle procedure. The visiting subalterns got to sit down with the ongoing traces and orders, going through planning cycles up to and including backbriefs. For most this was their first taste of tank troop tactics and had ample time to review and discuss what they learned.
In addition to all this, the outing also served as an introduction to life in the camp. While there were some cold nights, we were kept warm by the camaraderie, the ample numbers of hot dogs available from the Sergeant Major’s canteen and a little friendly competition at the bench press. They can’t wait to get back, but next time, in the turret themselves.