Ex STEELE SNIPER 2013
Captain P.J. Webster
On the 28th of February 2013 Recce Squadron kicked off its extensive and intense Road to High Readiness training with a trip to Wainwright to visit the training area and ranges. The purpose of this visit, Ex STEELE SNIPER, was to better prepare the Squadron for a series of high tempo exercises the Brigade was conducting in order to stand up for Taskforce 1-13.
The day began with a cold early morning road move to Wainwright and saw most of our vehicles arrive at Range Sixteen for a few days of static and patrol level shooting by day and by night. A typical Alberta winter was in full swing, with temperatures well below zero and forcing a few days of winter warfare training and adjustment.
Shooting started on the 1st of March with live fire 25mm static shoots followed by two days of moving while shooting, the bread and butter of Reconnaissance gunnery. The combination of movement and firing, while processing and pushing information is a skill that is instrumental to the job of the recce commander and not one easily mastered. A few days of shooting, however, proved Recce Sqn’s mastery of this essential skill set and demonstrated its preparedness for future exercises.
Leaving the range the morning of the 4th the Squadron shook out into the training area for a few days of dry training. A new Canadian Army mandate sees a renewed interest in CBRN (Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear) operations and so under the practiced eye of the Sqn CBRN NCO, Sgt Ben Holmes, the Sqn set about practicing the time-consuming tasks associated with defending against CBRN agents.
The morning of the 6th Col Cadden, the Director of Armour, arrived with the Commanding Officer and spent some time chatting with the gas-mask wearing soldiers of First Troop as they conducted a CBRN Recce. Meeting the top armoured soldier was an exciting moment for many of our young soldiers, who ably demonstrated their renewed familiarity with these skills.
Following a few more days of practicing core recce skills the Sqn retired to the Base Wainwright shacks for a night of battle procedure and preparation for the final part of Ex STEELE SNIPER - Op STEELE STALKER, a 36 hour on-the-economy operation surrounding the town of Myrnam in Northern Alberta. This would be the level four live confirmation for Recce Sqn, and the final gateway to the later exercises this spring.
The morning of the 11th saw the start of the Op and another northern Alberta snowstorm. Right away the realities of a mission of this scope and magnitude were apparent, as less than an hour in two Troop Leaders found themselves on the side of the road, their vehicles down. The OC, Maj Chris Nolan had to reluctantly give up his Coyote to First Troop to keep their Troop Leader in the fight.
A solid two days of driving down country roads, observing bridges and mingling with the locals saw Recce Sqn well outside of its comfort zone, but once again successful in its mission. A Community Relations activity for the citizens in Myrnam, AB, on the night of the 11th showcased our capabilities and successfully formed a bond with the local populace, an exciting opportunity for both the Squadron’s soldiers and the citizens who attended. It is hoped that through future opportunities such as this both Recce Squadron and Lord Strathcona’s Horse will be able to exercise more with the local population of Alberta and less in the confines of the training area of Wainwright.
Returning to Edmonton the night of the 12th saw a stronger, more focused Recce Squadron, having successfully worked outside of the box and normal training patterns. The Squadron demonstrated that unconventional training can be both effective and exciting, and be a benefit to both the local population and the soldiers. The road ahead will bring many more challenges and tasks, but Recce Squadron is all the more prepared for it.