Exercise MAPLE RESOLVE - B Squadron
By Captain Dave Cronk
On the 10th of October 2011, B Squadron returned to CFB Wainwright, having enjoyed a full week of rest and refit from the recently completed Ex STEELE SABRE. The Squadron redeployed to Wainwright to provide the Royal Canadian Dragoons (RCD) Battle Group with some fighting punch as it participated in Ex MAPLE RESOLVE, a Canadian Manoeuvre Training Centre (CMTC) exercise designed to put 2 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group (2 CMBG) through its paces.
Having just completed an aggressive Ex STEELE SABRE, which culminated in the Squadron conducting a Squadron Live Fire attack, B Squadron was fortunate to by-pass the stands training being conducted by the RCD BG and focused upon conducting link-up drills with both the armoured engineers from 23 Field Squadron, 2 Combat Engineer Regiment and “Y” Company, Royal Regiment of Fusiliers of the British Army. After a few days of link-ups, which saw the Squadron conduct complex obstacle breaching with the engineers, which included live fire explosive breaches, and attempts at conducting quick attacks with a ‘truck-borne” infantry company, the cobwebs were shaken out and the Squadron was ready to commence the Force on Force portion of the exercise.
After a week of preparations and link-up drills complete, the Squadron was eagerly anticipating the start of the force on force, actually maybe some troops a little too much as 3rd Troop under Lt Anthony Kenny was like a caged animal and had to be reigned back in after crossing the line of departure 30 minutes before the rest of the squadron and advancing 500 metres deep into enemy territory. After a one way radio transmission from the Battle Captain, 3rd Troop was “congratulated” for their bold securing of the line of departure and the force on force kicked off.
The majority of the exercise saw the Squadron conducting conventional tank tasks in support of the Battle Group. The Squadron executed a highly successful block along routes leading into a refugee camp being relocated by “Y” Company and two days of countermoves rehearsals throughout the Brigade area of operations ensuring that the Squadron would be able to react to any incident. However, by day three of the force on force, the squadron was given its first opportunity to truly demonstrate its ability to lay a beat down on the enemy when a reinforced enemy platoon foolishly decided to try and defend Lazy Jay Ranch. After a redistribution of vehicles in the Battle Group, “Y” Company, now mounted in LAV IIIs, and B Squadron joined forces to form the B Squadron Combat Team to destroy the enemy at Lazy Jay. After a very, very early reveille, the combat team departed for the attack and after a minor navigational hiccup was en route at full speed to assault the enemy position. With some impressive speed and aggression, the combat team assaulted and very quickly overwhelmed the enemy. Actually, it was hard to tell if it was the speed of the tanks’ assault or the colourful, not to be repeated in this forum, adjectives that Major Ed Southerly, OC Y Coy, was using to motivate his troops through the dismounted fight that actually broke the will of the enemy and allowed the Combat Team to secure the objective with only a few casualties.
After some time to refit, the squadron moved back into support to the Battle Group for countermoves and quick reaction tasks until preparations for the final attack began in earnest. Building upon the success of the B Squadron and “Y” Company grouping, the Battle Group again turned to this team to be the teeth of the Battle Group and destroy another enemy position. However, this time a much more determined enemy was in place – in a mere 48 hours, they were able to install some 10 kilometres of anti-tank ditching surrounded by 100 metres of mixed minefield on either sides of the ditching. This was a feat of engineering rivalling the Panama Canal when one considers the force was a suspected enemy mechanized platoon. After two days of battle procedure and rehearsals with the engineers and infantry, the B Squadron Combat Team was ready to launch. After another very early reveille the Combat Team linked up in the assembly area and move to the attack position under the cover of darkness.
Moving into a firebase and attack positions secured by B Squadron RCD, the Combat team moved to destroy the enemy. Unfortunately, what was suspected to be an enemy platoon turned out to be an enemy company with two companies’ worth of heavy weapons. Never one to stand down from a fight, the attack pushed on and the Combat Team launched. Facing a barrage of nonstop ERYX missiles, at extremely close range, the squadron quickly began to lose tanks at an alarming rate.
One of the first to go, Major Onieu’s tank was very quickly a catastrophic kill. However, as a man of great resolve, he was able to provide insight and direction to the rest of the squadron with his dying breaths for the remainder of the assault. At one point, the squadron was under the command of 2IC, Captain Tom Pett, who didn’t actually deploy on the exercise and sounded remarkably like the OC until he was killed as well. Within a span of 10 minutes the squadron was down the majority of its leadership, with only Lt Owen Lewis remaining as the sole surviving officer in the squadron. With a small force of 4 tanks and a rapidly diminishing infantry force, the combat team was eventually able to secure the position and upon consolidation there remained 4 tanks and 6 soldiers in “Y” Company. It was a pretty bloody fight indeed.
Upon post-exercise resurrection, the squadron conducted a number of AARs, packed the tanks up, and returned to Edmonton for some convalescent leave.