Throughout the month of August thousands of Army Reserve Force members gathered at different locations across the country to brush up on their battle readiness skills in a tactical field exercise.
Though the exercises took place at different times in different locations, including Valcartier, Petawawa, Gagetown and across the western division, all the exercises were in accordance with the Canadian Army Training Authority. Therefore, all following a similar pattern focusing on offensive operations.
“It’s all part of the national plan developed by the Army Commander to ensure the reservist are all singing from the same song sheets or doing similar training,” said Col. Perry Grandy the 5th Division assistant Chief of Staff and the officer conducting the exercise in Gagetown.
Referred to as the capstone training event of the year, this exercise allows reservists to take their individual training to a group environment, combining various units such as infantry, engineers, military police, armoury and more to accomplish tasks in a realistic battle environment. The exercise is being conducted for a second year in a row after an eight-year hiatus due to the conflict in Afghanistan.
“It really gives them the experience of an operational climate where they have to work together as a team to complete tactical tasks,” explained Grandy.
The training was a weeklong event structured to graduate reservists progressively to more challenging tasks. Simulating a real battle environment, the reservists were required to move around using proper convoy drills and were faced with a full cadre of an enemy force and full cadre of civilians. The exercise was designed to “reflect a realistic battle space that the reservist can go into and get the most experience and the most development” says Grandy.
Soldiers from the U.S. military had a hand in making the exercises a success and were present at several locations across the country. In the 5th Division, the 91st Military Police Battalion, out of New York, came to work with the reservists as well as the Army National Guard.
“We have really good working relations and partnership with U.S. Army National Guard, and the main National Army Guard were here this past month with the helicopters, and they provided a lot of exciting capabilities with the helicopters. It’s one thing when you’re teaching ambushes and tactical training, and soldiers are always keen to do that, but when we tell them you’re going to be flown in by helicopter and dropped off and picked up at the end that has a sense of realism and excitement that really pushes adrenaline thru veins and it enhances the learning environment,” described Grandy.
Reflecting on this year’s exercise, Col. Grandy is pleased with the performance of the troops and the improved attendance from last year’s event. Though Grandy says many of the reservists started the week off relearning lessons by the end, they had made substantial improvements proving the effectiveness of the training.
“The training they get is challenging. We were able to get a very good assessment of where we are with our skills capabilities. We are very happy with the individual training skills that are being taught at the summer training schools. They are producing a top-notch soldier and good unit leaders. We’re very happy how easy it was to pluck them into a combined arms environment where they are working in bigger teams. They are able to quickly become a cohesive unit that can complete tasks as a team,” said Grandy.
Grandy and his team will spend the next month analyzing data and collecting reports to measure the success of the exercise. Then preparations for next year’s exercise in Aug. 2016 can begin since the exercise typically takes a year to plan.
“We take this training seriously. You never get much of a warning for domestic operations and when troops are required for expedition operations so we have to take advantage of these exercises as much as possible to learn and teach essential skills as a combat soldier and that’s what we do,” said Grandy.
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