ORNERY RAM 2019
Cpl Thompson, and Lt Lee B Sqn
Heading to the field for a whole month is always a “high” point on people’s calendar, but as the driver for the Officer Commanding’s G-Wagon (OC’s Rover) this is even more correct. As we met at 0800hrs on April 1st, I had many questions going through my head: did I bring all the right kit? Would it not snow for once in Wainwright? Would I get to do anything tank related? What would level 2, 3, and 5 attacks even look like?
As we arrived in “beautiful” Wainwright I had one question that stuck out above the rest: how could the Battle Captain, Captain Blake “Samsquanch” Tapp fit into a tent, and how would he survive if he was too tall? Once we got off the bus and onto the tanks the Squadron quickly got things rolling and we moved out in troops to adopt a squadron leaguer. The first range we had to do was a level 2, which was just a quick refresher and involved each crew shooting a few main gun rounds. Following level 2 we kicked off with “enhanced level 3” or a “3.5” which is a troop of tanks and a platoon of infantry attacking an objective with live ammunition. The “enhanced” bit quickly proved accurate, as numerous tanks received paint “enhancements” as the infantry confused targets and tanks, firing small arms into the back of the tanks. Following a few corrections, the 3.5s went smoothly and were a good preparation for the level 5 combat team attacks.
As the Squadron kicked off into level 5, I heard the distant thundering of artillery and 120mm tank rounds and longed to get my turn in a tank and not just the G-Wagon. On Day 15 of the Exercise, my wish came true and I got to be a loader and have fun with the rest of the Squadron. The level 5 involved a full squadron (not available), a company of infantry, and engineer attachments all working together to ensure they smashed enemy positions. All jokes aside it was great to see what combined arms elements can do, and I quickly learned how tanks are essential to destroy enemy hard targets while infantry clear what is left.
Overall, the 19 days in the field for Ex ORNERY RAM went by like a flash and I was able to learn a lot. I learned that it is not possible for the weather in Wainwright to ever hold out “as per a blizzard on Day 15”, as well as the fact that the units in 1 CMBG are top of the line and that Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians) set this standard. Altogether, whether I was in a G-Wagon or operating as part of a tank crew, one thing never changed; I was and am extremely proud to be a Strathcona.