Pro Patria 2004
The Royal Canadian Regiment
Throughout the past year, 3RCR was involved in numerous events, ranging from an over-seas deployment, to conducting numerous training and leadership courses. Regardless of the tasks or events that did occur, the Commanding Officer and all ranks of 3RCR would like to begin the description of this year by honouring our fallen comrades.
OUR FALLEN COMRADES
Casualties are a possibility in any military operation. Canada, and in particular, The Royal Canadian Regiment was definitely not immune to that reality during OP ATHENA Rotation 0. What was a very high-paced tour concluded with an incident that brought the reality of our Afghanistan mission into focus. On 27 Jan 04, a Parachute Company patrol, heading to a meeting with various local leaders was hit by a suicide bomber. Major John Vass, the Officer Commanding Mike (Parachute) Company, commanded the two Iltis jeep patrol. Major Vass, Corporal Vantassel and an interpreter occupied the lead vehicle. The second vehicle, which was the bombers target, was commanded by Lieutenant Feyko, Platoon Commander of 2 Platoon and occupied by Cpl MacDonald, Cpl Newman, and Cpl Murphy, from 1RCR.
The patrol was moving to the local meeting when it had to slow down due to a small depression in the road. The lead Iltis moved past the depression and, as the second Iltis slowed to cross the obstacle, the bomber approached the Iltis and detonated the explosives that were attached to him. The bomber was killed instantly and bombarded the Iltis with shrapnel, killing Cpl Murphy and causing severe injuries to the rest of the occupants. Lt Feyko's injuries were life threatening, while Cpl MacDonald and Cpl Newman received severe shrapnel wounds. Additionally one Afghani citizen was killed and eight were wounded in the bombing. After the explosion, Major Vass and Cpl Vantassel immediately stopped their Iltis, took charge of the scene and began administering first aid to the casualties. A convoy from the Service Battalion in the area was notified of the situation and quickly made their way to provide assistance. Another Parachute Company patrol, Call-Sign 12B, arrived next and began to establish a cordon and take over the scene, which minutes later was supported by the arriving Quick Reaction Force under the command of Lt Chris Nobrega. The Quick Reaction Force established the cordon and began to mange the entire scene.
The casualties were immediately evacuated back to Camp Julien. Lt Feyko was air evacuated to the German hospital in Camp Warehouse and was eventually sent to Germany for further treatment. Cpl Newman and Cpl Macdonald remained in Camp Julien to recover from their injuries. Cpl Murphy was laid to rest in Newfoundland. 2RCR provided excellent support to the family of Cpl Murphy, for which everyone in 3RCR is most grateful, and ensured proper respects were paid in true Royal Canadian style. A year after this incident, all three previously wounded casualties are doing well and have resumed their military duties. Ongoing medical treatment was required in some cases and no one will soon forget what occurred in Jan 04. Shortly after this incident, all the soldiers from Op ATHENA Roto 0 ended their tour of duty and made their way back to Canada.
DIRECT ACTION OPERATIONS
3RCR began 2004 where it left off from 2003, patrolling the streets and environs of Kabul, Afghanistan, as part of Op ATHENA Roto 0. In addition to patrolling and conducting Camp Julien security tasks, the 3RCR Battalion Group began conducting 'Directed Operations' in support of the Kabul City Police (KCP) and the National Directorate of Security (the Afghan secret service). These operations involved detailed planning, preparations and extensive coordination between the various Canadian units, other ISAF nations and the local Afghan authorities. In the early morning hours, Mike (Parachute) Company conducted a Direct Action Operation, cordon and search of a suspected drug house in Kabul. This successful operation, conducted in conjunction with the KCP, resulted in the arrest of eight known drug lords and the seizure of numerous small arms, anti-personnel and anti-tank mines, numerous rockets, as well as a vast quantity of narcotics. Furthermore, Mike (Parachute) Company learned several valuable lessons from this critical operation that will be important in any future 'Direct Action'. The key lessons learned were: that the local authorities (KCP) must be included in the final operational rehearsals to ensure they have a detailed understanding of what is expected of them and the supporting force. Secondly the placement of the Company Command Post / Waiting Area is in an area that can be easily secured, both at night when the streets are empty and during the day when the streets are crowded with thousands of people and vehicles. Finally, the telescoping ladder, while an innovative design, was not intended to support a 200-pound man carrying 100-pounds of equipment. These lessons would prove invaluable to November Company in subsequent 'Direct Action' operations.
Later in the month, November Company, with the assistance of snipers from Recce Platoon and with LAV IIIs from Charles Company, 1RCR conducted two 'Cordon and Search' operations in support of the National Directorate of Security (NDS). These were conducted simultaneously at two locations in Kabul. During this operation, the Afghan authorities arrested a known criminal and a large weapons cache was discovered, concealed in a hidden room. Once again, valuable lessons were learned, including the importance of excellent sniper over-watch for security and for real-time observation on the objective. Also, the value of engineer assistance when conducting a 'Search and Site Exploitation' of the objective cannot be over-emphasized. They helped to ensure that the entire compound was clear prior to the commencement of the detailed search. These missions were both exciting and rewarding. The success of 3RCR is a clear reflection of the well trained and disciplined soldiers of the Regiment.
RECONSTITUTION & INITIAL TRAINING
The end of Op ATHENA Roto 0 saw the 3RCR Battalion Group pack up and leave Kabul. Time in that dangerous area taught many numerous lessons about life, brotherhood and one of the most basic of any human needs, survival. Many of the younger soldiers grew up in a very short period of time in Kabul. The older, more experienced soldiers took the younger ones 'under their wing' and showed them many ways to survive in a hostile land. The Battalion began re-deploying in early Jan 04, when several Non-Commissioned Officers and Officers returned to Canada to participate in career courses such as the Army Operations Course, and the 3A, 3B courses. The remainder of the Battalion began returning to Canada on 8 Feb 04, when the first members of the 3rd Battalion Royal 22e Regiment arrived as part of a relief-in-place. By 18 Feb 04, the entire Battalion Group was out of theatre. As each flight departed Kabul, the Battalion flew by Hercules to Camp Mirage to spend a day or two in the sun prior to the long flight back to Canada. In Camp Mirage, the Battalion Group met with the Arrival Assistance Group and commenced turning in equipment and attending numerous briefings as part of re-integration training. With a 17-hour flight ahead of each soldier, the only bright spot was the knowledge that a duty-free stop awaited us in Zagreb, Bosnia on our way home. Upon arrival back in Canada, the Battalion received a warm reception, but faced three days of re-integration training as a method of transitioning back to the Canadian way of life. The change of tempo and the re-adjustment to Canadian driving laws proved to be some of the most common transitional hiccups. Finally, each soldier was able to begin a well-earned leave period to spend time with their families and loved ones, as well as to relax after six long months of hard work.
After the much-deserved rest upon re-deployment, the Battalion carried on with the task of qualifying a number of soldiers who were new to the Regiment as well as those returning from operations. The reorganization of the Battalion, in conjunction with the Primary Combat Function courses, went a long way towards integrating the new members of the unit. The first weeks of spring were a very busy time for the Battalion, with the launch of a Platoon Support Weapons Course, a Basic Reconnaissance Patrolman Course, Driver Wheel Course (to include the Iltis) and a Basic Sniper Course. With every available inch of the training area and each classroom occupied, the training continued until the 21 May. The Driver Wheel Course concluded with a road move to Meaford in order to gain the necessary mileage for the troop-lift qualification. The Reconnaissance Patrolman Course was conducted during a particularly nasty time of the year, adding an unwelcome degree of difficulty to an already demanding course. The important Platoon Support Weapons Course was loaded to the maximum with 40 candidates in an effort to prepare soldiers for future leadership courses and provide the sub-units with some desperately needed Weapons Detachment Commanders. The most difficult and demanding of the Primary Combat Function Courses (PCF) was, without a doubt, the Basic Sniper Course. Of the ten candidates who commenced training, there was only one man standing at the end of the course. Rumour has it the course party ended early. While the rest of the Battalion was on summer leave, Lt Good and WO MacIntyre (retired) conducted another Basic Reconnaissance Patrolman Course for various Reserve soldiers, granting a coveted regular force qualification to 16 dedicated reservists. In order to generate an additional level of knowledge and experience in the Battalion, three serials of the Basic Mountain Operation course were run back to back starting in early September. The course was a gruelling task for the small cadre of Mountain Operation Instructors led by WO Young. However, regardless of the tempo, by early October over 70 members of the unit were newly qualified.
Atop Parliament Hill and situated on a bluff overlooking the Ottawa River, the three gothic structures that comprise the symbolic and actual seat of Canada's Government are perhaps the most recognizable buildings in the country. A token to the triumphs and sacrifices that have embodied Canada's Armed Forces, the 295-foot tall Peace Tower dominates the surrounding area. This tower commemorates the over 66,000 Canadian soldiers who were killed in World War I, a fitting colossus to maintain over-watch on a Battalion returning home in earnest from a successful tour. It was under these auspices that 3rd Battalion The Royal Canadian Regiment set to honour the professional deeds undertaken both past and present by Trooping the Colours, a special tribute paid to the 50th and 51st anniversary of the battle of Hill 187 along with 3RCR's recent conduct during OP ATHENA in Kabul, Afghanistan. A unit known for operational performance, was ready on 12 Jun 04 to demonstrate what a month of drill could do for a group of soldiers who were, above all else, proficient in any job that was deemed necessary. The Colour Party and the four Guards comprised the formed body to create a 200-man Parade formation. The many parade practices greatly contributed to the end product as was presented to the somewhat curious onlookers during the dress rehearsal of 11 June. With the Centennial Flame designating the entrance to Parliament Hill, it served as a focal point for the observation of what was to unfold 12 Jun 04 at 1000hrs. Adjacent to this awaited hundreds of family and spectators, casual observers and invited officials, prior to the march-on at 1000 hrs. This included Her Excellency the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson, Governor-General and Commander-in-Chief of Canada, Korea War Veterans, the Colonel of the Regiment, Major-General T.F. de Faye, CMM, CD and other dignitaries. Amid this substantial fanfare the 2RCR Pipes and Drums and the Ceremonial Guard Band supported 3RCR. The RSM, CWO Bradley, called the markers to begin the Trooping. Highlights included the Korean War Veterans of Hill 187 joining the parade, inspection of the guards by the Governor General, slow and quick time march pasts - with all eyes on the Colour Party for the majority of the parade, due to their prominent location and the complexity of their drill movements. Following the final march past, the Battalion, under police escort, enjoyed the freedom to move through the city, which facilitated an "eyes left" on Elgin Street at the War Memorial. In all, a high standard was achieved by 3RCR due to the continued professional outlook by all ranks, no matter what the task.
The 25 Jun 04 signified the advent of a new Commanding Officer for 3rd Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment. LCol R. Radford took over command of 3 RCR, at the Change of Command Parade with LCol Denne, by exchanging the Battalion Commander's Sword. This symbolic change of command authority between the outgoing and incoming COs had an immediate impact, as LCol Radford immediately addressed members of the Battalion. The Reviewing Officer, Col Devlin, Commander of 2 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group inspected the Battalion with MGen Leslie, Acting Assistant Chief of Land Staff and the former Commander Task Force Kabul and Deputy Commander ISAF during the Battalion's mission to Afghanistan joined the ceremony as an honoured guest. The Regimental Colonel, Colonel MacLean, was present as the Regimental witness during the Signing Ceremony. MCpl Cleary, LCol Denne's Driver, ensured that the Outgoing CO did not go away empty handed, and presented him with his Vehicle Pennant and the Battalion Commander's Flag. As well, Col MacLean presented LCol Denne with his Commanding Officer's Statuette. This statuette is a gift that is presented to the CO from all ranks of the Battalion and is presented by the Regimental Colonel on behalf of the Battalion.
With the Trooping the Colours and the Change of Command parades behind us, the summer tasking bill hit the Battalion. The major task for the battalion was to provide a light company to support the Tactics School in executing the Advance Classification Training (Infantry) Course at the Combat Training Centre (CTC). In order for the battalion to accomplish this task, it required the support of all companies to put a 117-man company in the field. The centre of mass (concerning personnel) for the company came from Oscar Company under Maj Greg Miller and MWO Steve Gobuty. The company group formed on 26 Jul and conducted two weeks of Dry Level 4 training in Petawawa to ensure they were up to speed on company level operations. The focus of training was to establish standing operating procedures within the company that would permit it to function effectively, while absorbing a new command team every two to three hours. After 10 days of advancing, defending, withdrawing, patrolling and conducting hide occupation drills, the company was ready to deploy to the Combat Training Centre. The only things lacking were platoon commanders. The Infantry School provided three Phase 3 qualified officers who joined the company upon arrival in Petersville and addressed this shortfall.
After a 14-hour bus deployment to the CTC on 14 Aug, the company group ballooned to 170 personnel with the addition of the course support staff; cooks, drivers and enemy force. The company became responsible for all of the course support functions. Quickly integrating the additional 60 soldiers into the organization, the company prepared for battle. The course began with Oscar Company conducting a demonstration hasty attack. For most of the students the demonstration was the first time they had seen a complete light infantry company deployed in the advance. The challenges required to lead a light company, quickly became evident and the demonstration soon became the template for the rest of the course. What followed was 14 days of non-stop company level operations. The members of the company group, being from Petawawa, were receiving their first introduction to the Gagetown Training Area. The Lawfield Road, Lyon's Bridge and the Olinville Road were new experiences for the majority of soldiers, but after two weeks of quick attacks, defences and withdrawals, the company became very familiar with the area. In typical New Brunswick fashion, the weather in late August provided all four seasons. Of particular note was the weekend that the remnants of hurricane Frances moved through Atlantic Canada. Two days of operations in torrential down pours provided students and company members with a clear reminder of the challenges the weather provides to light infantry operations. The culminating event for the course was a company airmobile operation that provided the final task to the students. It not only gave the candidates the opportunity to plan a company airmobile but it added the additional challenge of an attack against a built-up area. Supported by Blackhawks from a Pennsylvania Army National Guard Unit, the company and all students were lifted into the CTC austere village. The approach from the Landing Zone and the ensuing clearance of the village signalled the end of the course. After 14 days and more than 42 different command roles by 23 different students, the sigh of relief from the troops could be heard in Moncton. The training experience for the students was a great one, the future reserve company commanders gained much from their instructors, but it can easily be stated that they gained more from the opportunity to work with 117 trained NCOs and soldiers from a trained light infantry company. The success of the students can be directly linked to the professional way the soldiers and NCOs of 3 RCR performed their primary roles while mentoring and teaching over two weeks of intense dismounted operations.
RECONSTITUTION COMPLETE - START TRAINING
Although the Battalion was in its reconstitution phase, the pace of activity continued to be intense. After a busy summer, with the highlight being the Trooping the Colours on Parliament Hill, the Battalion entered into the fall training cycle. Since its return from Op ATHENA and the related pre-deployment training, it had been sometime since the soldiers had an opportunity to complete the whole PCF cycle and the courses they missed in the spring. The fall time period saw 3 RCR put as many soldiers on course as possible. The Battalion ran another Driver Wheel Course, Basic Communications, Basic Recce Patrolman, DP-2A (PSWQ), Primary Leader Qualification Modules 1 through 5 and even squeezed in a Rappel Master course and a basic Mountain operations course. In addition to Battalion run courses, some soldiers were also completing courses elsewhere, with MCpl Legnaro and Cpl Porter successfully graduating the Patrol Pathfinder course. All courses were completed with enthusiasm and attention to detail. The soldiers learned a great deal and were looking forward to putting their newly acquired skills into practice. The Basic Recce Patrolman course enjoyed the added benefit of assisting the Patrol Pathfinder course and was able to partake in some interesting training such as Helicopter-casting in some 'warm' waters just off the coast of Halifax.
The top candidates on PCF courses run by the unit through the year were:
- 1st Driver Wheel - Pte Gosselin
- 2nd Driver Wheel - Pte McSpadden
- Basic Communications - Cpl Broderick
- 1st Reconnaissance Patrolman - Cpl Cantafio
- 2nd Reconnaissance Patrolman - Pte Gosselin
- 1st Platoon Support Weapons (DP 2A) - Cpl Brszewski
- 2nd Platoon Support Weapons (DP 2A) - Cpl Lewis
At the end of November, November Company conducted Ex EAGLE STRIKE, an airmobile patrolling exercise, in the Petawawa Training Area supported by 427 Tactical Helicopter Squadron. Following an excellent set of orders, the company, divided into two platoons, continued their ongoing battle procedure and prepared to deploy. The context of the exercise was that of 'Canadian troops acting as an interdiction force in a NATO framework and involved November Company staging from a secure rear area using helicopters to insert and extract for various missions. The exercise began with four to six man reconnaissance (recce) patrols being dispatched on point recces to locate targets for possible platoon-sized raids, in order to disrupt enemy activity within the Area of Operations. Deployment was without problem and November Coy settled into its temporary staging base in 'Area P' of the training area. Battle procedure continued and representatives from 427 Squadron were present for liaison with all of the Recce Patrol Commanders especially concerned with the patrols insertion, extraction and deception plans. Everything proceeded according to plan and it seemed that the exercise was going to go off without a hitch. At this point, the 'training Gods' decided to see if the November Coy leadership had adequately planned for all possible contingencies. The weather changed on a dime as if it were controlled by some sort of external agency (possibly Range Control), rapidly dropping in temperature and snowing so hard that you could not see your hand in front of your face. Ultimately, the Company had ideal dismounted patrolling weather for light infantry but the weather was far from ideal for helicopters. The Light Support Vehicle (Wheeled) (LSVW) became the preferred mode of transport for insertion and extraction, which was far from ideal, but effective under the conditions. The recce patrols were inserted, the recces were conducted and the patrols extracted without incident. Communications were troublesome given the weather conditions, but were maintained with the use of roving command posts and landline 'jerry-rigged' to the patrol base. One patrol from each platoon left personnel behind at their various recce points to picket possible raid objectives, thereby keeping "eyes on" to collect intelligence and prepare for future operations. The patrols were debriefed upon their return and all the information gathered was passed up the chain of command. The recce patrols were successful, with none having been compromised and all of them returning with valuable information about their assigned objectives. Maj Jim Muth confirmed the plans for the various raids and battle procedure began for simultaneous airmobile raids to be executed with a 0530 H-Hr. Once again, the 'training Gods' tested the contingency planning of the raids' leaders by throwing some wrinkles into the helicopter insertions. One platoon was placed on the ground in a barely frozen swamp in the wrong location and, in the wrong order. The other platoon was inserted in three different lifts with the command element being inserted roughly a kilometre away from the other two helicopters. Luckily, all of these possibilities had been planned for and it was excellent training trying to get everyone back on track and moving forward. Very soon the raids were set and although one raid had to be sprung early because it was compromised, all objectives were met and there was even a high-value prisoner captured and brought back for interrogation. All in all, it was challenging training under difficult conditions and a good patrolling refresher for all concerned.
CAMBRIAN PATROL - 3RCR CAPTURES GOLD!
Another patrolling event of which 3RCR was extremely proud, was their performance at the British Cambrian Patrol. The Cambrian Patrol is a long-range mission-oriented patrol competition hosted by the British Army each fall in the Cambrian Mountains of Wales, UK. The Cambrian Patrol is internationally viewed as one of the toughest patrolling tests that the modern soldier can face. The aim of the patrol is to provide a challenging patrol exercise in order to test training standards. However, to truly understand the intensity of the Cambrian Patrol, an example is needed.
"Friendlies have located an enemy strong hold and we [3 RCR Patrol Team] are tasked to close with and destroy the enemy. However, a problem arises immediately. Its twelve kilometres to the objective and our truck won't start. The Assessing Staff give us 50 m of rope, a hydraulic jack, and a jack stand. They tell us the truck cannot move but we must somehow start the engine or walk to the next objective! MCpl Leamon suggests we try to start the truck like the pull cord on a snow machine. Like all good Canadians, we see the genius of his plan. We quickly jack up the rear of the truck, wrap the rope around the tire, put the truck in 4th gear and pull as hard as we can. After three good attempts, the diesel engine roars to life and we're off. As we get near the enemy stronghold, small arms fire can be heard and it's not hard to tell that there is a battle raging. We quickly dismount, a quick set of orders is issued and we're being led to the enemy position at a full out sprint! Like machines we spread out, firing and moving, destroying two enemy positions. The order is given to withdraw and once again it's a full out sprint to a position of cover. After a few hundred meters of sprinting we peel into a barn. As we become aware of our surroundings, after the vicious battle, we see a sign 'Congratulations, you have just finished Cambrian Patrol 2004".
Typically, between 80 and 100 teams compete annually at the Cambrian Patrol. Of those teams, about 50% will finish the patrol. Some teams get a certificate of completion, while the top teams receive a Gold, Silver or Bronze Medal. The most coveted prize, of course, is the Gold medal. Only one to three Gold medals are presented, depending on the calibre of competition in a given year. It is very rare for a foreign team to earn a Gold Medal, as the entire competition is based on British Army training standards. The team from 3RCR began training in August under the tutelage of Capt Jay Feyko and Sgt Jack Durnford. After a very intensive training period, which culminated in several Field Training Exercises, the team was chosen. The team deployed to the UK in mid-October for acclimatization and preparation for the competition. The competition began 31 Oct 04 and the team completed numerous tasks along a 50 kilometre route over very demanding terrain and finished 48 hours later. The team of Sgt Steve Daniel, MCpl Scott Leamon, Cpl Raymond Peach, Cpl Cameron Laidlaw, Cpl Jeff Arrand, Cpl Rashad Mohammed, Cpl Matthew Christensen, Cpl Kevin Walker, MCpl Robert Skinner and Cpl Kurtis Manion brought home a Gold medal. All members of the Cambrian Patrol Team were awarded the CLS Commendation for their outstanding efforts and performance.
SUPPORT TO OPERATION ATHENA ROTATION 3
With the completion of courses, the fall season slowly ended and the Battalion shifted its focus toward providing extensive support for Op ATHENA Roto 3 pre-deployment training. 2 CMBG was tasked as the principal training agency for Op ATHENA Roto 3, whereby tasked units and elements could expect to deploy to Afghanistan during end January to mid February 2005. As "force generation" included pre-deployment training, and in view of the Battalion's recent service in Kabul, 3RCR was selected by the Brigade Commander as the principal training agency to support Roto 3. In accordance with the Commander's instructions, 3RCR provided the bulk of the training support required to prepare an 800-man contingent for active service. Training support included the development of training facilities, the provision of instruction for mission specific individual training, and providing "enemy", "indigenous personnel", conducting two live fire ranges and command and control of the MEL's for two field training exercises.
Planning commenced in earnest on 5 Oct, with the first of several coordination conferences, whereupon LCol Radford outlined the nature of the training and he assigned each company with their tasks. The training audience would undertake "Theatre Mission Specific Training (TMST)" during the period 13 to 26 Nov; experience exposure to theatre related missions and scenarios during Ex ABLE BEAR between 28 Nov and 3 Dec; and confirm operational readiness through Ex ATHENA BEAR from 6 and 10 December. OSCAR Company was assigned to provide an NCO instructor cadre for TMST to develop the training audience's individual and low-level collective skills during tasks they would likely be involved with in theatre. Soldiers where taught proper techniques with regard to sentry duties, dismounted patrolling, vehicle and person searches, and correct reactions to various terrorist attack scenarios.
During the TMST period, all companies were heavily involved in preparations for the two field training exercises but of particular note were the tasks assigned to OSCAR and ROMEO Companies. OSCAR Company was assigned to build "Mini-Kabul" at Clement Hill in the Petawawa Training Area. At first glance, this 2x4 and plywood construction appeared to be an ice fishermen's shantytown oddly sited on the side of a hill. However, the wooden structures replicated the crowded adobes and mud-walled compounds found in a typical Kabul city neighbourhood located on a mountainside. Once built and manned, Mini-Kabul was complete with sea container workshops and stores, alley dogs, oil barrel fires, butchered animal parts, feces, and indigenous personnel. During Exercises ABLE BEAR and ATHENA BEAR, Mini-Kabul became the scene, or "set", for a patrol stand organized by Lt Beradinelli, WO Hanson, and Sergeant Stewart. Quoting a pun from the TV show Seinfeld, WO Hansen described the patrol as "a patrol about nothing" in that the exercise was devoid from spectacular events, as the intent was to highlight routine patrolling in the Kabul environment. Training audience patrols were exposed to the typical sites, smells, and confined spaces of a Kabul neighbourhood. They learned how to interact with locals and become familiar with situations that should be interpreted as non-threatening while practicing the maintenance of a proper security posture. Despite the apparent simplicity behind this training event, participants on all patrols were appreciative of the realism invoked into the scheme and expressed their satisfaction regarding the intent to prepare them for the "real world" of Kabul.
While ROMEO Company's platoons main priority would be to provide the integral service support normally required by the other companies throughout Roto 3 training, the Company's leadership, Acting Officer Commanding Captain Jim MacInnis and Company Sergeant Major MWO Mark Miller, were given the task of planning and coordinating the construction of Roto 3's exercise training camp. In accordance with the Brigade Commander's and Commanding Officer's intent, the training Camp was to be a replication of Camp Julien, the Operation ATHENA camp in Kabul. As much as was reasonably possible, within the confines of budget and geography, Camp Julien Petawawa would provide living and work accommodations similar to what is currently found in Kabul. The layout of the training camp copied much of the layout found in Kabul, in view of a perceived need to create a set-up that would facilitate familiarity when the soldiers arrive in Kabul. Under Captain MacInnis' planning guidance and CSM Miller's supervision, elements from across the brigade provided expertise and labour for the construction of the Camp. Once built, the training camp constructed from tentage, defensive stores and some ATCO trailers, possessed comfortable heated and electrically lit accommodations for 800 personnel, hot showers, and hot meals served in a first-class kitchen facility. Work areas included a full-size copy of Camp Julien's front gate (courtesy of 2 CER construction Troop) complete with three lanes for vehicular traffic, one lane for pedestrians, a guardhouse, sangars, barriers, and a machinegun kill zone. Other work areas (all of which were heated and electrically lit) included: a hard-stand vehicle maintenance facility, a medical/dental facility with trauma surgical capability, transport and stores areas, a Quick Reaction Force ready room, an operational level headquarters area including a full-size Tactical Operations Centre and office space for nearly 100 personnel. The headquarters included telephone capability for 76 local numbers, computer Defence Wide Area Network access for 72 stations and Combat Net Radio. "Camp Julien" was handed over to the training audience upon the commencement of Exercise ABLE BEAR on November 28th.
Under the leadership of Major Smith and Company Sergeant Major MWO Hartnell, the soldiers of MIKE Company took the lead in providing training support throughout the five-day period for Exercise ABLE BEAR. Essentially, MIKE Company's task was to support the Master Events List, which entailed a series of situations and associated tasks that Roto 3 could expect to see while in theatre. These events included: the conduct of battle rhythm; patrolling and interaction with local personnel and officials; camp security scenarios; terrorist attacks and threats. MIKE Company's soldiers began their task acting as the in-place force to hand-over camp security duties to Roto 3 personnel. Thereafter, the company provided "well dressed actors" to support the myriad tasks and scenarios assigned to Roto 3. With a variety of imaginative costumes, props and uniforms coupled with entertaining thespian expertise, the Company provided interpreters, Kabul City Police, Afghan National Army, Afghan Militia Forces, and terrorists to support the events. Of particular note, was their success in reconfiguring two trucks into facsimiles of the decorative "jingle trucks" found throughout Afghanistan and Pakistan. These blue vehicular contraptions turned heads and heightened casual curiosity across CFB Petawawa throughout the training period.
Major Muth's and CSM Duncan's November Company supported training for the validation Exercise, Ex ATHENA BEAR, an assignment previously conducted by Mike Company. Through November Company's mentoring and guidance during the final phase of collective training, Roto 3 was declared operationally ready for service overseas.
During both Ex ABLE BEAR and Ex ATHENA BEAR, Quebec Company organized and coordinated the field-firing portion of Roto 3 training. Two ranges were prepared for the training audience, both of which emphasized a terrorist secondary attack. (Such an attack is a "worse case scenario" and involves the terrorists orchestrating a catastrophic event, such as a vehicle accident, that involves a manpower/resources response from counter-insurgent forces, which is quickly followed by a secondary terrorist attack intended to maximize loss of life and destruction of materiel.) One range, built and organized by WO Goodbody and Sgt Daniels, involved a staged vehicle accident followed by a direct fire attack. The second range, prepared and ran by Capt Miksa and Sgt Rhoads, also incorporated a vehicle accident, however, the secondary attack was initiated with a vehicle born improvised explosive device (VBIED) (a car bomb) coupled with direct small-arms fire. On both ranges, convoys, patrols or Quick Reaction Forces were expected to execute proper drills including: securing the accident site, first-aid, scene management, communications, reaction to enemy fire, etc. In view of 3RCR's tragic suicide bombing experience during Roto 0, the lessons learned by Roto 3 on these ranges were among the most important throughout the entire training period.
In summation, the Battalion put in long hours and worked hard supporting Roto 3 training. Nonetheless, in view of the valuable experience gained during Roto 0, 3RCR was the best possible organization to undertake the task of preparing Roto 3 for operations. Upon the conclusion of the validation exercise, Roto 3's success in being declared operationally ready reflected heavily upon the high dedication and tremendous effort put forward by all ranks of 3RCR.
End of year festivities for the Regimental Birthday brought an opportunity for serious matters and not so serious things as well. One the serious side was the announcement of the award for Top Soldier in 3RCR for the year 2004:
Brigadier-General Yuill Award (The Yuill Sword) – Cpl David Oickle
Some of the less serious activities, known colloquially as silly season, included the annual Officer versus Senior NCO and Master Corporal versus Corporal / Private ice hockey games. Despite the RSM's efforts to give the goalie an accelerated promotion to Sergeant, the Senior NCOs took a beating on the ice. A well-fought battle, the final outcome was in favour of the Officers, 6 – 5. In the next game, although a solid effort from the goaltender MCpl Black, the Master Corporals did not fare well this year as they only scored one goal as the Corporal / Private team entered double digits.