Exercise STEELE BEASTS 2015: A Reconnaissance Squadron perspective
By: Lt. Michael Labrecque
Exercise STEELE BEASTS 2015 was an opportunity for the soldiers of Reconnaissance Squadron, Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians) to train as part of a combined Canadian / American combat team made up of units from 1 Division of the United States Cavalry and Canadian soldiers from Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians). For Reconnaissance Squadron, the exercise was broken down into two rotations; the first of which was 1 Troop, commanded by Lt Joe “Boundaries?” Agius, paired with B Squadron, commanded by Maj Sandy “Maverick” Cooper, to break the Texan ice and get in the initial kick at the simulated can. After a hop, skip, and a jump, the first rotation was boots down in Austin, Texas to begin their surprisingly limited climate adaptation. Between early morning runs with the Commanding Officer, LCol Josh “Tanker Ace” Major, and nights out on the town, all soldiers had by the end of their rotation a solid grasp of the sheer scope of Fort Hood, and the over 50,000 personnel that work there.
The second rotation kicked off comprised of 3 Troop, commanded by Lt Michael “I’ll show y’all how it’s done fellas” Labrecque and A Squadron, commanded by Maj Darryn “I ain’t movin till this crap is sorted out” Gray. Soon enough, but not before a quick Tim Horton’s run, flight issues were sorted out and the last rotation of Strathconas was en route to Fort Hood. The second rotation was blessed with true Texan weather, however between manoeuvers, using state of the art simulators, and nights spent getting to know their surroundings, these fantastic temperatures were best experienced during morning runs in the midst of shouting “Sorry,” in true Canadian fashion as we passed American troops running along Battalion Ave. As the days progressed, soldiers of the second rotation took the words of wisdom from the first to heart, as they began to discover the honey holes in the region, one of which was Rudy’s BBQ; a classic Texas BBQ joint! Rudy’s was a favorite of the soldiers on the first rotation. Rudy’s excellence was best observed as Capt Steven “Give me more” Couture attempted to eat 3lbs of succulent, moist brisket. Although unsuccessful in completion, all soldiers present can attest that this challenge lasted longer than the 20 minutes initially expected.
Canadian and American leadership alike combined mugs at Legend’s pub prior to the departure of rotation 2, but not before drinking a lot of beer and exchanging black berets for Stetsons.
Not to be outdone by his leadership, Tpr Brendon “Let’s go for a rip, bud” Maddison was able to swing a truly eye opening experience as members from 3 Troop were given guided tours of both the airfield and an in depth look at the biggest baddest killing machines to grace our sky’s, the AH-64 Longbow Apache attack helicopter. After one final hoo-raw, the second rotation left, heading back to Edmonton with many lessons learned and many stories never to be forgotten. The exercise as a whole was a great success, and many thanks are given to our American brothers in arms for the opportunity to train alongside and learn from one another.