enhanced Forward Presence Battle Group Latvia
“Swamps, Snipers, Sunburns and Smores in the countdown to Redeployment”
Captain Tom “Archery Cult Leader” Hume
As a long semi-isolated deployment comes to an end, soldiers of the enhanced Forward Presence Battle Group (BG) Latvia have found a number of novel ways to pass the time. In early June, the BG finished its last level 6 dry exercise known as STEELE ANVIL with a focus on Commanders taking a nap while the 2ICs took over at all levels from CO to Sniper Det Comd. Performance of the number twos’ varied, with some newly and briefly minted Patrol Commanders like MCpl David “lost, but making good time” Symington, having no trouble identifying the OPFOR positions while others, such as MCpl Jason “definitely not stuck” Loykowski only managed a thorough zone recce of a 10 figure grid. The only detraction from this theme was with the BG S6 Capt Ryan “Squiggles” O’Sullivan, whose Polish 2IC has effectively been doing all the work from the beginning.
With the last “big” exercise out of the way, companies focussed on providing interesting training for the soldiers. Exercise STEELE SNIPER (colloquially known as SHOOTY SNIPE) saw Snipers from five nations culminate after months of training in complex Dry and Live fire stalking ranges. Despite Latvian Range Control eliminating the use of tracer rounds due the fire index, some snipers still managed to burn down a good portion of the range even though their Armour Piercing Incendiary rounds did not have any tracer ability at all! One week later, a singed but unfazed Butcher (Combat Support) Coy carried on with the most highly anticipated exercise of the deployment: STEELE TRIGGER. In a bold and audacious move, the BG projected multi-national companies across the country for a shooting challenge that could only take place on a very particular 300m range that may have been close to a specific point of interest… Overcoming the gruelling challenge was a “walk on the beach” for Capt Tom “Tiny Terror” Clackson who was the architect of the exercise from its inception and did his very best to make it as “not fun” as possible, though the aggressively friendly “Camp Vice” Sergeant Major, MWO Ben “have some more s’mores” Holmes thwarted these attempts and ensured everyone was having a good time. The highlight of the exercise was certainly the much praised and now “world renowned” Strathcona cooks who slaved away in the sun to dispatch the memory of dry pork and boiled potatoes from everyone’s minds.
With theatre PERs signed, shiny new medals on our chests and a range of effective and ineffective attempts at a tan, the BG celebrated End of Tour day as a thinly and poorly disguised Canada day. Through a bit damp, this 1st of July most certainly did not represent the beginning of the rainy season as soldiers gorged themselves on tasty meals from Latvian food trucks and participated in multiple competitions, such as 5 km and half marathon races, carnival games, an archery tournament, a LAV6 pull won by our very own BG HQ team, and finally, a quintessential ball hockey tournament won by a stacked team comprised of soldiers from Mustang (Combat Service and Support) Coy. Official name and sporadic rain aside, the entire event was success and maple emblazoned, red and white hats dotted the base with smiling faces shaded underneath.
Though the delays to our flights home have been frustrating for everyone, some have felt the pain more than others. This is especially true for Maj (Capt) Matt “Distance Employment” and “Tom, take over” Shumka, who has been doing his best to spend as little time in theatre as possible (while maintaining all tour benefits) and was supposed to be home already. Though this deployment will eventually come to an end and we can’t wait to be home with our families, I’m sure that Latvia will always have a special place in our hearts, until our almost inevitable return sometime in the future.