Exercise Praesidio, 18-21 Nov 2005
Capt Tim Fletcher
Capt Tim Fletcher
Pte Andrew Rossini provides additional security at the VCP with his C6 medium machine gun.
It's the new warfare ? the "three-block" war, and the RHLI are among the first to start training in its intricacies. Canadian soldiers are highly adaptable, and the way we do business overseas reflects this.
Major Gary McQueen, exercise company commander, gives orders to Capt Carl Schlosser who in turn, organized patrols, VCPs and other activities for the weekend.
Typical of overseas missions is the rough nature of the terrain our soldiers encounter - admirably replicated in the field training area at Base Meaford near Owen Sound! Meaford - or "Mudford" as it is called in wet weather - offers the varied terrain Rileys face on overseas missions where paved roads, intact villages and the usual amenities we take for granted are most often not present.
Major Dan Stepaniuk, who has a tour of duty in Bosnia under his belt, is the RHLI Operations Officer. His tour took in the beginnings of this new concept, and he describes it like this. "We've always taken part in humanitarian operations ? clean water, food deliveries, rebuilding operations and so on. However, we also take part in peace-keeping operations to keep a peace agreement between factions by deploying with the ability to use force. We more recently have engaged in peacemaking operations where we are prepared to use force to separate combatants or protect a country's citizens against armed aggression so they can rebuild their lives and their nation in peace."
Cpl Brad Hillmer checks in with his headquarters over the status of a visitor to the RHLI forward operation base (FOB).
Starting in the Balkans while implementing the Dayton Peace Accords, it was noticed that we were sometimes engaged in all three activities at once - providing and supporting relief efforts in one part of our area of responsibility (AOR), engaged in near-combat activities just near by, and sometimes engaged in more active measures elsewhere in the same AOR. However, we have never really actively trained for this type of scenario ? we just used our adaptability to get on with the job.
Pte Charley Fabre, left and Pte Ryan Russel provide overwatch while a vehicle is checked out as it enters their patrol area. Vehicle check points, or "VCPs" are a standard practice now on Canadian Forces deployments. Set up without notice, they allow our soldiers to inspect vehicles and people, searching for weapons and explosives before terrorists or insurgents have a chance to hide they away or dispose of them.
Reacting to an explosion near the building to the left, the Riley patrol returns at the run to investigate.
Now we have started training at home for what we've actually been doing overseas for some time. For the Rileys, Exercise Praesidio put into practice what we've been hearing about and what RHLI soldiers are doing for real in Afghanistan. The training encompassed information-gathering patrols, meetings with local VIPs such as village chiefs, vehicle check points and more.
The Rileys have many soldiers now with experience in Bosnia, the middle east and Afghanistan, and these soldiers are now passing on their skills to the rest of the Regiment.
Pte Sandra Mimranek, rear, provides security for Cpl Sean Hutchinson, patrol leader, while he talks to the village "mayor" and his interpreter, in reality WO Mike Coit, left, and Gunner Jordan Binns as the mayor. Both are from 11 Field Regiment, who provided very realistic "locals" for the training.
Communications are the key to any military acitivity and the RHLI frequently enlist the help of 705 Communication Squadron, also based in Hamilton, to provide command post operations. Cpl James Simoni looked after the radios and overall operation of the equipment.