Ex MAPLE DEFENDER – A Squadron Fire Power Demo
By WO Marvin MacNeill
On 22 August 2011, members from A Sqn were deployed to Wainwright to begin preparing for a fire power demonstration for the Senate Committee on National Defence and the Office of the Auditor General. In attendance from the Senate Committee on National Defence were Mr James Bezan (Chair of SCOND), Senator Pamela Wallin (SCONDSAD), and Senator Don Plett (SCONDSAD). From the Office of the Auditor General attendees were Mr John Reed (Principal), Mr Craig Millar (Director), Mr Eric Provencher (Auditor) and Mr Benjamin Janzen (Auditor).
Crews were assembled from all three tank troops, under the leadership of Lt Steven “Smoke Shoot” VanMuyen. This involved the majority of the squadron, from maintenance to all components of the echelon. The remainder of the combat team was drawn from 3rd Pl, A Coy, 1 PPCLI, 1 RCHA, and a field section (including a Badger) from 1 CER.
The second day in Wainwright saw the set up of Range 25 and the move of the tank troop to the range. This task would seem never ending for the troops setting up the range. The next 3 days were spent in the summer sun constructing mock buildings, setting up targets and filling sand bags to be destroyed in the following days. This ensured the range build OPIs, WO Billy “Bob the Builder” Boland and Lt Corey “I can draw a map” McLean were some of the least popular members of the squadron during the exercise.
After a shaky first blank-fire dry run, everyone settled into the task and by a second dry run the pieces started to fall into place as the combat team began operating together. All members from the different arms once again recognized the need for combined arms training and how vital it is at all levels.
With H-Hour set at 0900 hrs on Friday, the combat team began its move forward to the Tactical Assembly Area. Close Air Support was provided by two Alpha jets as the combat team began the move forward to the first obstacle. Once the demonstration was complete and the guns fell silent, it was our chance to let the VIPs engage with the soldiers one-on-one to pass on our job knowledge and experiences and to get a feel what it is like to fire a few rounds on each of the vehicles.
We would like to thank all the VIPs for taking the time to see and understand the nature and perils of what the Strathcona’s and our fellow warriors do and how important it is to operate as a combined arms team in the Canadian Army.