Worthington Cup 2015
By Lieutenant TJ Casey
The Worthington Cup is a long standing armoured gunnery competition which fosters excellence in our ability to shoot, move, and communicate with our advanced armoured fighting vehicles, and raising the overall proficiency within the Canadian Army. The event has evolved over the past three years to broaden the spectrum of soldier skills tested, reinforcing the importance of all aspects of soldiering. This year it was apparent that the armoured gunnery portion was no longer the entire focus and a much more substantial and all encompassing mounted warfare skills competition. This in theory necessitated an overall understanding and strengthing of fundamental army skills. The product was a comprehensive competition in which all aspects of soldiering were tested. To compliment this, the competition not only included many first time participating units, but also welcomed first time participating nations. A tough Danish team, fresh off a strong showing at this year’s Nordic Challenge competed directly while other nations such as Brazil, Portugal and Chile observed the event. The Canadian competitors belonged to 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th Canadian Divisions, with teams comprised from their armoured, infantry, engineer, and artillery units. This included Regular Force and Reserve Force soldiers, and soldiers from training centres.
The Worthington Challenge focused on four main competitive stands: an armoured fighting vehicle range testing our crews’ gunnery skill using our tanks and infantry fighting vehicles; a driving and maintenance (D&M) and first aid event, testing our drivers’ ability to conquer complex terrain and our ability to conduct first aid in combat conditions; a march and shoot event consisting of an obstacle course, a 7 km run, a small arms shoot, and a night navigation exercise; and an all arms call for fire event which tested our ability to estimate ranges and direct artillery fire. These four stands encompassed 90% of the teams total score with the final 10% being decided by an assessment of our physical fitness, which was tested in a number of ways throughout the competition.
The 3rd Canadian Division team consisted of two Leopard 2 tank crews and two Coyote reconnaissance vehicle crews from Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians), a Light Armour Vehicle (LAV) 3 crew from 1 Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, and two LUVW reconnaissance crews from the Saskatchewan Dragoons. Each vehicle crew consisted of four soldiers, and these crews competed in separate sub-events at each stand. Their scores all contributed to the overall score for their respective Division. The one exception to this was that the tank crews competed together as a fire team, being scored on their ability to cooperate and synchronize their fires. A well organized event, the competition pushed the teams to their limits. To compound the intentional stressors, the weather never fails to play a part when doing anything in the Gagetown training area. The weather fluctuated from warm sunny days to torrential rain, recording over 120 mm of rain within a 12 hour period!
Team preparation was instrumental to success in this competition. With so many facets of military abilities being tested, a comprehensive training program became a must. As many of the participants will admit, the training regime for this event ranged from challenging to pure lunacy. The 3rd Canadian Division team developed an exceptional level of cohesion, and together honed their team and individual skills. The team’s competence and professionalism showed throughout the competition. From pistol shooting to interacting with other participating nations, the 3rd Canadian Division team was the clear front runner throughout the competition. After the scores for the four stands and fitness were compiled, 3rd Canadian Division was congratulated as the overall winner! Further, the tank team from Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians) took the first place trophy for the 120 mm gunnery category, and the LAV 3 crew from the 1 Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry took second place trophy for the 25 mm gunnery category. The 3rd Canadian Division team returned to Edmonton, joining their units on exercise with pride in their success, the friendships they had made, and the skills they had gained.