Article written by Cpl Felix PARNELL, B-Coy, 5 PL, Sect Comd
Westmount, Quebec – 07 May 2018: Friday night, March 23rd, members of the RMR arrive at the unit, ready for one of the last field training exercises of the year. During this weekend, Exercise Hunting Badger took place, which was a continuation of last October’s Exercise Stalking Badger. Previously, troops had conducted reconnaissance patrols of the area in order to prepare and organize plans for this upcoming weekend. The plan was simple: to conduct a raid against the enemy. Some important factors needed to be taken in consideration which affected the decision making process. For example, between Exercise Stalking Badger, where reconnaissance patrols had assessed the area, and Exercise Hunting Badger, winter had settled on Valcartier, which paved the streets and forest with snow. Winter operations involve meticulous planning. Many factors, such as the need for snowshoes, affect the conduct of the operation. Nevertheless, with these circumstances, the war went on and the soldiers adapted.
After a good night of sleep in shacks, the troops prepared their kit, organized themselves as a platoon and headed out into the field, where they would conduct the training for the rest of the weekend.
Upon arriving on the position, a platoon hide was established, tents were setup and standard routine began. As the battle procedure was underway, the platoon was refreshed on standard operating procedures for the conduct of the raid. There are many different positions and roles with specific tasks that are needed for this type of operation. It is highly important that everybody knows their own task and the tasks of others in order to conduct an effective operation.
The platoon went through rehearsals to practice standard operating procedures. When moving a large body of soldiers, in order to keep noise discipline under control and to ensure all elements understand what to do and at what time throughout the duration of the operation, rehearsals must be conducted. Standard operating procedures consists of proper hand signals, actions on different situations, maneuvering the platoon in various formations and more. These practices ensure that every soldier knows what is going on.
With daily activities done, the platoon took some rest and had supper before heading out for the mission. Orders were given, additional rehearsals conducted and soldiers prepared their kit for the raid. With inspections done and the soldiers ready to go, the platoon got into the trucks just as the darkness took over the sky and night was settling in.
Once arrived at the infil position, the platoon got into formation and started walking towards the objective. Two kilometres later, the forward-most elements got view of the enemy’s position. With the close proximity of the objective and the intel that there might be enemy patrols around the area, it was important to remain as quiet as possible as the elements took their positions towards the enemy. H-hour came around and with the platoon set, the support element opened fire to cover, as the assault element swept the enemy position. Faced with grenades and small arms fire, the assault element advanced with aggressiveness. Momentum, situational awareness, communication and proper soldiering skills are fundamental keys to conducting a successful raid.
With the enemy destroyed, the objective was achieved and it was time to get out. Another important factor for a raid is to leave the area as soon as it’s over. The platoon returned to the exfil location and formed a defensive perimeter as the trucks arrived.
Exercise Hunting Badger was another successful training weekend for members of the RMR. Many senior members had the opportunity to take higher responsibilities, while the junior troops had a chance to refresh their knowledge pertaining to conventional army tactics. In general, these types of training help to improve individual soldier skills and to build stronger teamwork as a unit.
The best soldiers are the ones who show up on Friday night, ready to endure difficult conditions and to deliver their best efforts, and come back to the unit on Sunday afternoon to sit down in the mess, have a drink among peers and celebrate the end of yet another successful exercise.