Recce Squadron Leads the Way:
Supporting 3 PPCLI during Ex PHALANX RAM
Lieutenant H. Jung
On 22 Apr 14, blessed with warm spring weather, Recce Squadron departed for Metiskow, AB in order to be Contemporary Operational Environment Force (COEFOR) in support of Ex PHALANX RAM. Accompanying Recce Squadron were twenty soldiers from A Squadron, fourteen soldiers from B Squadron, field kitchen staff from HQ Squadron, and medical support staff from 1 Fd Amb. This exercise was a 10-day activity to prepare 3 PPCLI for a Non-Combatant Evacuation Operation (NEO). A NEO could simply mean evacuating Canadian Entitled Persons (CEPs) who are people entitled to request Canadian Government help to leave an unstable region or country that might be becoming hostile towards foreign residents. The ultimate goal of the exercise was simple; to practice getting CEPs safely back to Canada.
Recce Squadron led the way into the exercise, departing ahead of 3 PPCLI in order to prepare a solid environment for NEO training. Upon arrival in Metiskow, under the direction of Squadron Sergeant Major, Master Warrant Officer Iain Fox, Recce Squadron began to set up their camp site. Especially enjoyed was the bright sunshine which raised everyone’s hopes for nice weather forecast for the duration of the exercise. However, and to no one’s great surprise, the following four days presented chilly and rainy weather. RHQ and HQ Squadron set up their staging area in Cadogan and 3 PPCLI, who were the Primary Training Audience (PTA), set up their FOB in Provost.
COEFOR was tasked to provide challenging evacuation situations for the PTA. The Squadron was divided into four Troops: Red, Green, Blue, and White. The developed scenarios were carried out perfectly and started with two soldiers dressed up as civilians from White Troop, under the command of Lieutenant Andrew Tardiff and Sergeant Nathan Johnston, infiltrating the FOB and stealing supplies. During the following days, the operational environment for the PTA got gradually difficult. The FOB was being watched by Red Troop OPs commanded by Lieutenant Shaun Rogozinski and Master Corporal Adam Christie. Daily evacuation sites were overflowing with the CEPs coordinated by Lieutenant Laurel Burchell and Sergeant John Goobie. Just when the PTA believed they have figured out the routine, they were hit by more thought-provoking situations such as encountering corrupted local police force performed by Green Troop, led by Captain Stephen Couture and Warrant Officer Cari-Ann Barker. They also had to coordinate an evacuation plan with French soldiers, led by Lieutenant Hyun-Joon Jung and Sergeant Ryan Vigar, and deal with terrorist attacks on CEPs. The climax of the exercise occurred on the second last day as the FOB was visited by a crowd of about a hundred soldiers acting as angry local residents chanting and yelling out complaints about the tough living conditions. The demonstration was further backed by more realism induced by a group of journalism students from various universities performing as Al Jazeera under the direction of Mr. Robert W. Bergen (PhD in Military and Strategic Studies) from the University of Calgary. The PTA Company under the command of Major Hugh Atwell, seemed surprised by the large protest at first but managed to control the situation safely with successful extraction of additional CEPs. After an intense five hour demonstration the crowd finally dissipated and marked the end of the exercise.
On the second last day, the Commanding Officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Paul Peyton, and the Regimental Sergeant Major, Chief Warrant Officer Antony Batty, came out to congratulate and commend COEFOR as well as recognize a few soldiers for their exceptional hard work. Trooper Ian Harding from Recce Squadron, Corporal Andrew Phelan from A Squadron and Corporal Derrick Popoff from B Squadron each received the Commanding Officer’s Coin in recognition of their efforts. The two fantastic cooks, Master Corporal Albert Mowatt and Corporal Richard Reid, seamlessly ran the field kitchen which contributed in maintaining the high morale throughout the exercise.
Ex PHALANX RAM provided extremely valuable training experience for 3 PPCLI as well as the soldiers from LdSH(RC) who participated in the exercise. Even acting out as the local populace with various roles made everyone realize how hard and dangerous a NEO can be in a hostile environment abroad. With another successful exercise in their pocket, Recce Squadron and its attachments safely returned to Edmonton on 1 May 14.