Pte Nicholas Temos
Foxtrot Company (F Coy) mounted up on Hallowe’en Eve from Vancouver destined for Revelstoke, British Columbia, to tackle their winter warfare practical exercise, Ex STEELE WINTER. The exercise covered various training stands such as snowshoeing, avalanche awareness, snowmobiling, and in-depth refresher lessons on how to use sanitary bag toilets provided in every toboggan!
The exciting avalanche awareness training went off without a slide, no pun intended, furthermore morale and confidence was high among the troops in their ability to successfully combat at least one of the foes we may encounter on the mountain, Mother Nature. Our civilian instructor Nick was informative, and added a light touch to the otherwise serious nature of military training. During this session troops covered how to use the avalanche beacons, and learned that these delicate life saving devices must be kept warm, dry, and handled gently or they could be damaged before the cold violent action of an avalanche requires them to be put them into use.
As the training days progressed troops also went through snowmobile training under the expert instruction of Warrant Officer Boyd, a guest instructor from The Royal Westminster Regiment, and 3 Pl 2IC Warrant Officer Cutting. The lesson was learned that although sometimes certain kit doesn’t work as well as it should, the heated handlebars were an exception! Several panicked faces ensued as the handlebars suddenly became too hot to handle while shooting down the trail, but the importance of thick gloves was quickly learned.
Basic Winter Warfare confirmation training was also run, as troops practiced maintaining their look cool factor while walking in snowshoes, racing to put tents up under the frigid conditions, and learning to build snow shelters. Soldiers were given the opportunity to live in their snow shelters for a night and realized a valuable lesson, that although the shelters may be rudimentary and built of sticks and snow, if properly made it can often out perform the high tech military kit that we use today. These lessons built the confidence of the troops of F Coy in a winter survival context, and the lessons learned have prepared the soldiers of the company for the road ahead.
As the stand training wound down, the confirmation portion of the exercise began. The soldiers of F Coy packed up their tents, rucksacks, and kit and began the leisurely one kilometer march up the mountain, with either one or two several hundred pound sleds in tow. Although seasonal weather did not cooperate and Mother Nature decided to confirm the saying, ‘if it isn’t raining, it isn’t training’, the troops of F Coy “soldiered on”! Bright and early the next morning the troops tore down their tents and transport began to take F Coy off the mountain.
The exercise was over, and the objective of the troops and leadership changed from driving the body to getting a few well deserved Teen Burgers down range, and finally conquering the problem of a “shortage” of portable Toilet Bags with the chance to use indoor plumbing. After everyone had addressed said problem, the buses were loaded up and another successful exercise was under the belt of Foxtrot Company.