Canadian Patrol Concentration 2013
By Lieutenant Bryce Simpson
Held in November 2013, the Canadian Patrol Concentration (CPC) was run by the Canadian Manoeuvre Training Centre (CMTC) with the intent to test the individual and section level dismounted patrolling and reconnaissance skills of teams from across the Canadian Army. In August 2013, Recce Squadron took up the challenge of assembling a team, concentrating volunteers from across the Squadron (plus a pair of keen signallers from Regimental Headquarters), into 3rd Troop.
Trading in Coyotes for ruck sacks, 3rd Troop embarked on an intensive training plan designed to prepare them for the unique challenges of long range patrolling. Physical Training was conducted for three hours every morning consisting of Crossfit and obstacle PT. As well, the Troop conducted a long-range ruck-march in St. Albert or the River Valley once per week. For most of the Troop, however, PT largely consisted of trying to keep up with Corporal Anthony “The Mule” Hewison’s consistently superior completion times. Afternoons were spent training in the various Battle Tasks required for the CPC which included: Battle Procedure, Armoured Fighting Vehicle recognition, tactical movement, counter-ambush drills, link-up procedures, casualty treatment and evacuation, minefield self-extraction, river crossing, and rappelling.
The August-September training period culminated during Exercise STEELE SABRE during which 3rd Troop prepared itself for several long range patrols designed to emulate the format of the CPC. The first patrol was a reality check for the majority of the team as it covered more than 60km consisting of wading across the frigid Battle River, conducting several close target recces, reacting to an ambush, and a link-up with friendly partisans who, despite creative names like “Bob”, “Bill” and “Joe”, strongly resembled Sergeant Ryan “I’m-Your-Dad” Vigar. Midway through the patrol, the team Second-in-Command Master Corporal Tom “It’s-Gonna-Be-Neat” Hume was tragically (and conveniently) “wounded” during an ambush, allowing him to complete his Armoured Reconnaissance Patrol Commander’s course, and was replaced by Corporal Cane “The Arrogant Rhinoceros” Zwicker. After a cold and wet night conducting our last point recce, the patrol was extracted and returned to friendly lines. Of course, our return did not come without a gruelling uphill march which seemed to last an eternity, due to the questionable distance estimation of the patrol’s navigators Corporals Scott “Only-Three-More-Km-Boys” Muirhead and Grant “Old Man” Skaarup.
The team’s two remaining practice patrols were of comparable distances and format which saw the solidification of the team roster, as well as some memorable incidents of their own. The second patrol included a particularly unpleasant overnight stroll down the infamous Grey Route that frayed the nerves of all involved with the exception of the always stone-faced Corporal Andrew “Just-Take-It” Smith. On the plus side, Corporal Luke “Gotta Eat” Downey discovered his true calling as an artist during his production of the patrol’s objective sketches. All in all, the final two practice patrols went off without a hitch and provided valuable training and experience to the team.
In mid-November, after a few weeks of final preparations, rehearsal, and rappelling from Griffon helicopters, courtesy of 408 Tactical Helicopter Squadron, the team departed to the big show in Canadian Forces Base Wainwright. A week before the competition, the team suffered a setback with the injury of team medic Corporal Jason “BB” Brisbois-Bergeron, but Corporal Joey “Mudfish” Schijns stepped up to the plate with enthusiasm to fill the team roster. Upon arrival, the team executed its Battle Procedure with a masterpiece of a map model to such a high standard that it impressed CMTC staff and certainly turned some of the other teams green with envy. The insertion by helicopter rappelling was a further success for the team (minus the near impalement and subsequent lodging of patrol commander Lieutenant Bryce “Europe” Simpson in a particularly bothersome tree), but it was sadly to be a small victory in the conduct of the patrol. After covering nearly 25km and conducting recces of our first two objectives, the leadership of the patrol was forced to withdraw the Strathcona’s team. A combination of dehydration caused by our water supply freezing in the balmy -20 degrees Wainwright temperatures and concern about the proximity of casualty evacuation assets led to a very disappointing result for the team.
Although the team’s egos were bruised, all members involved gained valuable experience in dismounted patrolling and identified key areas for improvement (most importantly: a requirement for advanced winter training). For future CPC competitions, these valuable lessons will be passed on to a future Strathcona team who will undoubtedly achieve great results.
The LdSH(RC) Team for the Canadian Patrol Concentration 2013:
Lieutenant Bryce Simpson (Team Member)
Sgt Ryan Vigar (Training/Support Staff)
Master Corporal Tom Hume (Team Member)
Corporal Craig Broome (Spare/Support Staff)
Corporal Jason Brisbois-Bergeron (Spare/Support Staff)
Corporal Luke Downey (Team Member)
Corporal Richard Ford (Spare/Support Staff)
Corporal Scott Muirhead (Team Member)
Corporal Joey Schijns (Team Member)
Corporal Grant Skaarup (Team Member)
Corporal Cane Zwicker (Spare/Support Staff)
Corporal Andrew Smith (Team Member)
Corporal Anthony Hewison (Team Member)