Howling Winds & Dark Nights: Part I
Written by Sergeant Brent McNair, the Second-in-Command of # 2 Platoon, “A” Company of The Royal Montreal Regiment
Westmount, QC – 21 Oct 2014: The moonless night was making the 2 kilometer patrol deep into enemy territory a lot more challenging than we had hope for. The 40-man fighting patrol was well on its way to conducting an ambush of a High Value Target (HVT), the terrain and lack of any ambient light what so ever was reducing the speed of the patrol to a crawl. At this pace we’ll have to hustle to get the ambush set in time.
The weekend exercise began with the Section Commander of 3 Platoon Charlie Company giving reconnaissance patrol orders to their 8 man sections. The company was sending out patrols in order to pin point the exact location of the enemy, the enemy had been brazenly operating in CFB Valcartier for the past couple of weeks and 3 Platoon was going to put a stop to it.
Orders were completed and questions answered, elements of 3 Platoon completed their battle procedure and efficiently went about the final inspection and test fire of weapons. Soon they marched out of friendly lines with ruck sacs filled with kit, ammunition, and supplies. The task was simple; find the enemy, study the enemy and rendezvous with a company patrol base in enemy territory. The weight of the ruck sacs and the impending rain hardly dampened 3 Platoon’s spirits as the disappeared into unforgiving Valcartier forest.
The members of 3 Platoon reconnoitered enemy positions and gathered intelligence; this information was invaluable and would be essential in planning the follow-on operation. An ambush would take dent out of the enemy’s capability to operate in the area; and a fighting patrol was just what the RMR had been hoping for. As the recce patrols entered the company patrol base they were immediately sent word; “Section Commanders to the Platoon Headquarters (HQ), Warning Order in 5 minutes”.
The warning order was passed and the platoon again feverishly began its battle procedure, the only difference was the weather. The skies opened up and a steady downpour was soon joined a crisp westerly wind – a true example of “RMR Weather”. The old adage “If it ain’t rainin’ it ain’t trainin’” came to mind as even the armies newly fielded rain gear did little to keep out the cold. The howling winds and fall drizzle did little to inconvenience the Platoon; the RMR bashed on. Rehearsals, orders and even a little bit of forced rest ate up of the rest of the evening and at 0300 hrs 3 Platoon with the Coy HQ in tow stepped off .
I couldn’t believe it, even with the Company Recce Detachment leading us to the objective we were tight on time, the darkness and closed terrain had really slowed us up. What little time we had left was not wasted. The Objective Rendezvous (ORV) was quickly established by force and the leader’s recce followed soon after. Quickly and efficiently 3 Platoon got into position and the Ambush was set.
The radio crackled “33 this is 33-Bravo, I have a 3 vehicle convoy moving east to west towards the ambush site – over”. Bravo Security element had provided the early warning that was needed. Weapons were stealthily flicked off safe and 3 Platoon waited until the 3-vehicle convoy was squarely in the kill zone. A burst from the C6 initiated contact and for 60 Seconds the heavily armed patrol ripped into the enemy convoy. The Middle Vehicle managed to escape the ambush but the other two vehicles did not share the same fate. The Assault Element used fire and movement to push onto the objective and eliminate the remaining enemy. When the smoke cleared the picture became clearer. The HVT was in the second vehicle that escaped the ambush, and 3 Platoon had suffered two casualties.
The Platoon was quickly re-organised and the enemy soldiers and vehicles were thoroughly searched, a map was discovered with what appeared to be enemy re-supply locations. The intelligence was transmitted to the Company HQ and after a brief analysis the message was passed over the net. “31,32,33 Stand by for orders via these means in 5 minutes”. The RMR would get its chance to finish what it started. The HVT would not be so lucky to escape 3 Platoon twice on the same day.
To be continued…..