Exercise STEELE SABRE – From “Shiny” to “Polished”
By Lieutenant TJ Casey
Exercise STEELE SABRE illustrated the Regiment’s high level of performance and highlighted its ability to use flexibility under strict tests of skill and teamwork. While it was all invaluable training, from a Prince of Wales (B) Squadron perspective, the force-on-force training with Reconnaissance Squadron and being confirmed Level 4 live were definitive highlights (in addition to those heavenly shower runs). This year’s Regimental exercise included live ranges (both armoured fighting vehicles and small arms); tank skills training at the crew, troop and squadron level; and special visits from both the spouses and the friends of the Regiment. Beyond enjoyable tank rides, weapons displays and square cut cookies, this exercise allowed the soldiers of Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians) to hone skills and allow their new teams to raise their standing from “shiny” to “polished.”
Prince of Wales Squadron began the exercise conducting crew and fire team-level training by day and by night. For most, it offered an opportunity to become masters of the vehicles’ abilities and, more importantly, to rediscover the ferocity and aggression of a battlefield tank crew. After a short while, members were confident, expediting their appreciations and generating sustainable momentum for their fire teams. This chronological advance in training prepared troops for the Level 3 dry training traces, by day and by night. This saw movement conducted with speed and aggression, while maintaining stealth and adopting good, defendable positions. Aggression was not stymied by darkness, to include a tank aggressively bounding down the bluffs in the northwest section of the Wainwright training area. After being confirmed Level 3 dry, the Squadron engaged in a force-on-force battle with Reconnaissance Squadron. This embodied an advance to contact trace for Prince of Wales Squadron up against Reconnaissance Squadron in a screen line. While it has been stated that the tank squadron was much more aggressive than the opposition had anticipated, the true outcome was that all who participated were received an immense amount of learning.
Following the force-on-force training, the Squadron engaged in preparation for Level 4 live fire, by conducting Level 3 live by day and by night. The skills and methods practiced over the span of several days led each troop to feel comfortable firing both the 120mm and 105 mm guns while on the move, destroying targets of varying sorts. No reduction in skill was seen at night from the day, rather some troops performed better with the cover of darkness. After confirming Level 3 live by day and by night, the focus became Level 4, including battle procedure and “ROC” talks (rehearsal of concept) to ensure all were playing from the same sheet of pipes and drums music. Level 4 live saw an advance to contact, and after destroying enemy reconnaissance elements, culminated in a hasty attack on an objective which had dug-in northeast of Buffalo Hill. With aggression and quick coordination the Fire Base was in position, raining hell on the enemy. Meanwhile, the Assault Force and the Engineers had oriented and begun breaching a complex obstacle, an anti-tank ditch. After the ditch had been breached the tanks formed up line abreast and began advancing on the objective. After 120 rounds, the Fire Base checked fire and watched triumphantly as the Assault Force rolled over the objective, solidifying its destruction.
The exercise culminated in two personal weapons ranges to include jungle lanes, and grenades. These provide soldiers the opportunity to throw live grenades and also practice shooting their C8 while on the move at pop up targets. All of this said, the chain of command was extremely pleased with the product the Squadron displayed during Exercise STEELE SABRE. While each opportunity to learn is a stepping stone, it is said that this squadron feels like a tiger pacing in a cage, just waiting for their chance to GET SOME.
To see a brief video of 4th Troop's advance onto the objective during their live fire confirmation, click the link below.