Exercise Kootenay Cougar

="Brisith Columbia Dragoons"

Soldiers from the British Columbia Dragoons conduct a water crossing during Exercise KOOTENAY COUGAR 2014 in Trail, BC on August 24, 2014.

Over 400 Canadian Armed Forces members descended on the city of Trail, British Columbia, in late August for Exercise Kootenay Cougar 2014.

It was an intensive four-day exercise that had the primary training audience exposed to a wide scope of scenarios involving resources and expertise from 408 Tactical Helicopter Squadron, 1 Field Ambulance, and HMCS Discovery.

“The mantra of this year’s exercise is train to excite,” explained Lieutenant-Colonel Nigel Whittaker, Director for Exercise Kootenay Cougar 2014.

“We’ve designed eight different stands that provide a real variety of challenges to our troops and junior leaders; however, each challenge tests the core soldiering skills of shooting, moving, and communicating.”

Two Royal Canadian Navy members from HMCS Discovery, a Naval Reserve unit in Vancouver, operated the safety boat for one of the eight stands.

In the stand’s scenario, the platoon was advised of an enemy’s position some distance down a reservoir.

The platoon had to row a dingy approximately 2,000 meters, meet with an informant to gain further intelligence on the exact location of the enemy, disembark and complete a reconnaissance, and ultimately destroy the enemy position.

A father and daughter team, Lt(N) Desmond Doyle and OS Caroline Doyle ensured the portion of the scenario that took place on the water went smoothly.

“The troops are expected to get themselves back in the boat should they fall out, but we’re there as a sort of insurance policy,” explains Lt(N) Doyle.

“It’s a great opportunity to help out the Army and bring some of the expertise and skills I’ve developed as a sailor.”

Many of the stands required an opposing force, ‘OPFOR’, to make the scenarios realistic.

In fact the role of over 30 members during the exercise was to play as an enemy and provide resistance against the platoons.

In a scenario that required the platoon to recover a downed pilot, a team of five OPFOR members attacked from a hidden uphill position – forcing the soldiers into a decision whether to engage and attempt to destroy the enemy, or withdraw with the injured pilot under the top cover of a CH-146 Griffon helicopter armed with a C9 light machine gun.

Forty-four Royal Canadian Air Force members along with four Griffons from 408 Tactical Helicopter Squadron provided support to the exercise.

The Griffon helicopters added realism to the training and provided the soldiers with the experience of operating in a domestic emergency or expeditionary operation.

“This exercise was a great chance to both work with the Army Reserves as well as practice our mountain flying skills,” says Maj Luc Vermette, Officer Commanding of the CH-146 Detachment.

A key piece to every exercise is safety, making the training as realistic as possible while keeping the troops safe and fit to partake in the entire exercise.

Eleven members from 11 Field Ambulance and 16 members from 12 Field Ambulance worked together to contribute to the exercise ensuring the troops are ‘fit to fight’.

In a unique opportunity for the soldiers of 39 Canadian Brigade Group, 11 members of 4 Canadian Ranger Patrol Group delivered survival training.

The Canadian Rangers are experts on the subject, and taught the troops the basics of securing food and water, building a shelter, starting a fire, and signaling for help.

All of the moving parts of this complex exercise funneled through Exercise Control (EXCON).

Capt Adam McLeod, Operations Officer for the exercise, prepared months in advance to ensure things went as smoothly as possible.

“With so many balls in the air, it can be a challenge keeping track of everything,” he explained.

“We have great communication within Exercise Control, and we all keep in mind that we’re here to deliver challenging and realistic training to the troops of 39 CBG. We want them to have a memorable experience while honing their skills to make sure they’re operationally ready.”

Lt Derek Reid

Public Affairs


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