Article written by Corporal Federico Fucile, B Coy, RMR
Westmount, Quebec – 20 November 2019: Last month, the RMR conducted a field training exercise (FTX) in Valcartier for its members to practice section attacks with blank rounds. We did a lot of them (around 10-12) to really get the muscle memory of how to react to contact and how to neutralize the enemy. GPE 1 was the continuation, by switching the blank rounds for live ones. This is my third year qualified in Bravo Company and it is the first time that I did live fire section attacks so early on in the training year (normally they’re done after the new year).
The exercise started like every other: the troops got assigned to their sections and got their weapons. Unlike previous years, some troops were assigned to be grenadiers and got to shoot chalk rounds (they explode with orange chalk to show where the round hits). When we got to the shacks in Valcartier, we headed to bed for a short sleep, because the RMR was the first unit to shoot the next morning!
We woke up at 0500. The weather was perfect: not too cold, not too warm, even though weather is not a factor that stops infantry soldiers from doing their job. But after the rainy exercise that was the FTX, it was a morale booster to train in decent weather. After being driven to the range, we got breakfast and got briefed by the Range Safety Officer. Section commanders conducted dry runs so the troops can know their roles within their sections. These were especially important as there’s an additional safety concern when training with live rounds. The ‘‘enemy force’’ were simply electronic targets that fall when shot. The addition of the M203 made the training more realistic than usual. The morning went by fast, with each section doing two section attacks. That is quite remarkable because most of the time, sections only get enough time to run through one attack. I find live fire to be an excellent way to really practice the maneuvers because of the realism that live rounds provide that blank rounds cannot. Since the unit got a large amount of newly qualified privates after the summer, it is good that they’re getting exposed to this kind of training early on in their careers.
After the section attacks were completed, we let the other units, 4th and 6th Battalion Royal 22e Régiment and the Black Watch, proceed with theirs. The troops then had time to eat lunch. We then got some lessons on IEDs and mines as a refresher from the infantry course. The afternoon was an opportunity for us to get a break from the fast-moving morning until we ate supper. During the evening, we had time to clean our weapons in order to reduce the workload when we got back to the unit on Sunday afternoon. On Sunday, we cleaned the range and made our way back to the unit. We did what we usually do: last minute oiling of weapons before handing them in and helping out putting the range equipment back in the CQ. We then had our usual After-Action Report with the officers and NCOs before heading down to the mess.
Overall, according to the officers and NCOs, GPE 1 was a success, and I agree with them. Even if things tend to move slower when we are conducting exercises with multiple units, the troops got more training than has normally been done years prior. Last time I did section-level live fire, every troop had to also do bush lanes (alone and in fire teams of two) the same day. I think having the troops already qualified on the bush lanes helped the flow of this GPE. I am hoping that this kind of exercise comes back in the next training years ahead. Yet again, the RMR proved to be an effective unit within the 34 Brigade Group. Next exercise, GPE 2!