Ex REFLEXE RAPIDE (RR) 18 and Ex MAPLE RESOLVE (MR) 1801

By Captain Leland Kirkham, 2 Tp Ldr, A Sqn

In April, A Squadron deployed with the best tanks the Regiment could muster for 5 weeks of field training as the high readiness tank Squadron for 5 GBMC.  This deployment would begin with several iterations of level 5 live-fire followed thereafter by the Canadian Army’s annual Ex MAPLE RESOLVE.  Prepared to adhere rigorously to the 1 CMBG Way of War, you may imagine our surprise when we rolled into the brigade bivouac and were greeted by flashing neon “open” signs displayed in the windows of the Field Poutineries, signs giving directions to canteens, advertisements for 60” satellite televisions and the best “hot dog and poutine” combos. It was at this time that one thing became very clear: we weren’t in Edmonton with 1 CMBG anymore.

Despite this fanfare, A Squadron launched immediately into a forward hide and began battle procedure, obstacle breach rehearsals, and ROC drills in preparation for the level 5 range practices.  The level 5 range spanned almost fifteen kilometres, contained multiple objectives, and presented a variety of complex obstacles.  Every single element was able to execute and learn their “way of war”, especially since many of the 5 GBMC soldiers had never had the opportunity to work with the Leopard 2 MBT or even a real armoured Squadron.  Each day saw tank crews engaging a variety of targets with 35 rounds of training Sabot and multiple boxes of 7.62mm coax.  Despite having a new infantry company for each live fire, A Squadron led the combat teams accurately through the badlands, vectored them towards the breaches, and into the heart of each objective.  After participating in 5 iterations, by day and night, A Squadron was prepared to celebrate a hard won rest and a quick break before beginning MR … and what better way to celebrate than mountains of poutine.

After enjoying a quick respite back in Edmonton, A Squadron entered the preparation cycle of Ex MAPLE RESOLVE. This included EXPRO briefings, scenario orders, equipping WES kit, and a comprehensive plan that would secure and enable the Bde to launch forward into hides and leaguers to begin Stability Operations and the first phase. A Squadron quickly deployed forward into the vicinity of Elk Butte, where we identified a gap in our capabilities to maintain observation on our area of operation without committing the tanks forward. The final solution was to augment our tank troops with several TAPVs in a clever tactic to essentially form self-styled Combat Recce Patrols. Through the use of vehicle mounted OPs, reinforced by tanks, we were able to achieve our Higher Commander’s intent and control the area and maintain quick reaction forces if the Brigade called. Throughout this entire phase, A Squadron worked separately away from the other manoeuvre elements. For most, this was a time to talk about the larger scenario and explain to junior soldiers why the tanks weren’t pushing forward in our usual advance to contact.

There were many soldiers who did not have the opportunity to experience a level 6/7 dry exercise like Ex MAPLE RESOLVE. For these people, the next several days of defensive and offensive action were filled with opportunities to learn and further hone their crewman skills. This change of pace was greeted with a burst of morale and excitement as the tanks were finally back in the fight; quickly moving forward into a dispersed Squadron harbour to get ready for defensive preparations and war. The maintenance team did an incredible job with the Squadron VOR as they kept us operating with as many tanks as possible throughout all phases. It wasn’t until the enemy advanced forward with a Brigade minus force to disrupt our defensive work when we finally suffered the first casualties of war. Thankfully we received new reinforcements from Edmonton that somehow fully understood the situation and were ready to fight within minutes. After a grueling two day wait, which saw 5 GBMC trading punches and repelling the enemy recce force via a delay, A Squadron received their orders to prepare for the main defensive battle as the Battle Group counter moves. Within minutes of being told to move, we passed through friendly lines and were vectored onto the enemy. Within hours we had cleared the entire enemy from the area and had enabled 5 GBMC to shift into the offensive.

It would not have been a Maple Resolve without some form of complex obstacle crossing. For 5 GBMC, it was crossing the annex’s highway. A Squadron made quick work of the remaining enemy forces within the area of operation and immediately earned its reputation for speed and violence as we had demolished all the enemy between us and the main objective. The enemy had attempted to draw us into Javelin and counter move ambushes, but as the OC gladly took the bait and broke their lines we moved into the last day and the major offensive push. A Squadron’s witching hour happened early in the morning at 0415hrs when we began to deploy into the annex to breach the obstacle crossing. Without a single problem, A Squadron broke deep into the enemy’s lines and began to search for staging areas and firebases to fix and strike the main enemy objective. Unfortunately the enemy was well masked, and while our sister combat team took heavy fire during their attack we were called upon to rebuild and carry on the momentum. The remainder of the last day was somewhat anti-climactic, as we broke through the enemy breach and linked up with the remaining friendly combat team forces. After consolidating, we made short work of the objective before hearing the fateful “End Ex, End Ex, End Ex” come over the radio. The final words we received summarized the contribution that A Squadron had added to 5 GBMC, as the CO 1R22R closed out with “thanks, you saved our battle group again”. A Squadron had a successful exercise where we showed up and performed to an extremely high level of skill, building a reputation that the rest of the Regiment will look to maintain in next year’s Road to High Readiness.