Ex STEELE BEASTS 2019
Lieutenant James Lee, 3rd Tp Ldr, B Sqn
Ex STEELE BEASTS (SB) 19 kicked off with a lovely meeting time of 0240 hrs in the B Squadron (Sqn) hangar on Saturday, 9 February, much to everyone’s delight. Passports were handed out as the troops arrived, and everyone loaded onto the busses for the drive to the airport. After mixed flight success with the 1st chalk having a 1 hr delay in Denver, Colorado, everyone eventually arrived at North Fort Hood and settled into the “luxury” 100 person barracks. The next morning consisted of a recce of the simulation centre followed by a close recce of the local watering holes.
Monday saw the Sqn kick off with a familiarization of the simulators for the morning and a practice trace in the afternoon. The remainder of the week saw the Sqn transition between offensive and defensive operations. The week’s training culminated with a force on force, Troop vs Troop, scenario for fun (read: bragging rights). Throughout the week, the Sqn visibly pulled closer together and improved as essential skills were refreshed. Crew Commanders learned how to operate at full capacity within the confines of the simulations.
The simulators as a whole were an interesting experience due to the marked differences between the Abrams and the Leopard 2. The basics were picked up fairly quickly, but most Crew Commanders had fun learning how to operate the Blue Force Tracker and the .50 Cal Remote Weapons System. Tips and tricks were picked up as the week progressed, such as the ability to laze and determine a grid as well as the ability to see a grid while using the .50 Cal. Sadly, some of these helpful tricks weren’t learned until the very last afternoon, but the training overall was very successful.
To say that Ex SB is all work and no play wouldn’t quite be true; besides training in Texas another enjoyable task was to sample the local food. Throughout the week the soldiers of B Sqn accomplished this “task” whole heartedly by exploring many bars and restaurants. To everyone’s delight, the saying “everything is bigger in Texas” turned out to be literally true with pounds of brisket and ribs being served as well as local kegs being emptied. The food wasn’t always glamorous however; lunch throughout the week was one of only two possible ration options. The first option was “beef” tacos with various snacks and the second option was tuna. Despite several comparisons to cat food throughout the week, everyone survived and returned to normal food once home.
Overall, the week of training in Texas was very worthwhile with the simulator training helping improve the Sqn’s abilities and the local area helping give everyone a break from the -40 weather.