Ex STEELE SNIPER - A Squadron
By Lt Karl Tams
Bright and early (read: ridiculously early and ludicrously dark) on the morning of 4 March 2013, A Squadron deployed to the CFB Wainwright Training area for Ex STEELE SNIPER, thus commencing the fabled process known as the Road to High Readiness. This was only possible because of the Herculean effort to complete tank maintenance the Squadron kick started after the completion of Christmas leave. Sgt Jay Dance and MCpl Charlie Hasson from A Squadron Maintenance led the troops in this massive undertaking. Well done Maintenance.
The Squadron spent a cold first night at Range 25. A quick survey in the morning revealed that only two tents had working Hunter-heaters, the rest had mysteriously shut off during the night (read: Yeti/Sasquatch broke them on purpose). Thankfully, the second night was much more bearable. MCpl Eric “Hot Hands” Estabrooks had emerged as the Hero of the Day, maybe even the exercise, as he figured out how to fix the heaters’ regulators. No more cold nights (yeah right)! Never before had information been so quickly and thoroughly disseminated to all the troops. One windy morning the Squadron awoke to frantic cries of, “Fire.” This was shortly followed by WO Shane “Flanny” Flanagan heroically leading a charge out of his flaming tent in a whirlwind of smoke and kit. Not to be outdone, Lt Laurel “Iron Chef” Burchell demonstrated how to nearly lose an eye while making a perfectly golden grilled cheese sandwich in the infamous “grease incident”. Ironically a safer food alternative was available as Cpl Travis “Livy” Livingstone was busy BBQing tube steaks at the time without the requirement for PPE (personal protection equipment). Thanks for the hotdogs, SSM A, WO Marcel Chenier.
Once settled into camp routine, the Squadron began individual crew static training and quickly progressed to troop level battle runs during the day and night. LCol Paul Peyton joined us for these runs, validating our progress. Also joining the Squadron was our OC, Maj Eric Angell, who spent his first night making a hurried and frantic run to the nearest snow bank in order to eject some questionable Viking gas station cuisine. The first week of training culminated in the entire Squadron validated to Level 3.
After a much needed maintenance break and shower run, the Squadron prepared for the main event: the Level 4 live fire battle run. Joining us to validate our performance was Col Dave Anderson, Commander of 1 CMBG, who stayed long enough to validate our training and enjoy a hotdog
On the morning of 13 Mar 2013 the Squadron deployed to the line of departure to begin Op STEELE APOCALYPSE. On H-Hour, the tanks roared to life and the Squadron rapidly advanced, encountering no enemy contacts (lucky for them!). Once the Squadron reached release point Cinnador, the Fire Base, under the watchful command of Capt Matt “I am the Fire Base” Johns, headed out to their position. The assault force, under the command of the OC, Maj Angell, went tree bashing, waiting to be let loose on the confirmed enemy position. The troops were excited, waiting to be move out and assault the enemy. Right on queue, the Fire Base poured deadly fire upon the enemy, setting up an effective smoke screen to mask the approaching assault force. The main body moved out forming a line before roaring forward, firing on the move. Suddenly we encountered a minefield and the assault force screeched to a halt. MCpl James “Deuce” Doucette and MCpl Dave “Random” McMurtry’s plow tank crews prepared to breech the enemy obstacle. The plow tanks dropped their plows and pushed forward, creating a safe lane for the assault force to move through. As this was happening, the fire base and the rest of the assault force continued to pound the enemy position with deadly accurate fire. Once the assault force reformed in a line on the other side of the minefield, the advance continued. Guns roared as the tanks relentlessly pummeled the hapless foe. The assault force pushed through the enemy position, consolidating and forming the essential ring of steel. The fire base also moved forward securing the right flank. The enemy was utterly destroyed. It was a beautiful way to end the exercise and a great start to the Road to High Readiness.