A Squadron in Ex PROMETHIAN RAM
By Lt Jamie Brittain
Few exercises provide as much excitement as one with live-fire combat team and battle group attacks. Ex PROMETHEAN RAM did not disappoint, with A Squadron, led by Maj Eric Angell, firing dozens of rounds down range. A Squadron started out with several dry-fire attacks, rotating through the different 1 Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (PPCLI) companies to marry-up and practice before given live rounds. After much practice, maintenance, and a bonfire that involved burning half an acre worth of trees, A Squadron was loaded up with ammo and sent on an extensive road move outside the training area and down the highways and streets of Wainwright in the dead of night to the release point for the war on West Isle.
Keeping the squadron at maximum combat strength was a challenge, especially Lt Laurel “Ram Rod” Burchell’s tank, which did not even make it to the initial start point. At first light, we started our push to the first objectives. After much anticipation and excitement, we were disappointed to learn that many objectives required “no cannon” due to fire template issues because of the awesome power of our tanks. After swallowing our sorrows, we kept pushing from objective to objective, hitting hard and taking names. The initial push culminated with an attack on Objective GOLD (Vertical Village) which contained a chemical weapons threat. The attack went well with Capt Karl “No Time For This Crap” Tams and this author leading the way for Bravo Company combat team. No sooner had we consolidated that the combat team was hit with a chlorine gas attack which resulted in this author discovering that: 1) it was real tear gas; and 2) that his mask was not tightened properly! The race for the award, a case of beer, was on between battle group reconnaissance snipers and Charlie company soldiers to find the High Value Target (HVT) who was the gas attacker for the West Isle Forces. With the help of a good gunner, Cpl Matthew “Brown Eye” Freeman, and some high ground, this author’s tank found the HVT and eliminated him with a healthy burst of coaxial machine-gun fire. The case of beer has yet, to very much sorrow, be awarded!
The firing template opened up for the cannons as the Squadron moved into range 16 and 25 training areas, destroying targets with extreme prejudice and leaving behind a trail of destruction. The Officer Commanding’s (OC) Loader, Sgt James “Hammie” Hamilton out did himself, pumping 21 rounds down range on a single attack. Cpl Carlos “Mexi-Can” Gaona tried to match the Sgt, firing 19 rounds in a stab ready turret cross-country; how many of those rounds actually hit the target is unknown. The push to get as many tanks involved in the live fire attacks continued despite Capt Matt “Ground Looks Good” Johns literally drowned a tank in a lake (let’s not discuss the one this author sunk). Thankfully, WO Jay “Back-Deck” Webb gallantly offered up his tank to the Battle Captain. Although A Squadron was rarely more than 50% operational at any one time, with crews such as WO Richard “Peregrine” Sherren not making it out of Camp Nathan Smith until the very end, everyone made it out at some point to join in the fight. On the final objective, the Engineers constructed a bridge for the squadron’s Leopard 2 tanks, which allowed it to go on the final attack. The fire base and assault force hammered the objective with everything it had. After the attack, everyone waited breathlessly for the much anticipated call of “End Ex” before conducting the move back to Airfield 21 for a well deserved rest, shower, and smoker. Capt Phil “Buckinghammer” Buckingham and Sgt Matt “Ginger” Williams deserve extra mention along with the OC and Second-in-Command as the only crews who never left the fight.
All in all, Ex PROMETHEAN RAM was an incredible learning experience for all participants. After hundreds of rounds fired, sunken tanks in lakes, tanks playing bumper cars, and back-decked assault tanks, A Squadron emerged as a cohesive unit, earning the camaraderie and respect of the entire 1 PPCLI battle group and the brigade as a whole.