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A Cold War Sentinel Comes Back to Life

Barrie Advance
December 6, 2006
In wars past, trench warfare was the way armies waged war. The modern reality facing soldiers today is fighting in cities and towns, resulting in new training concepts.

Fighting in Built-up Area (FIBA) training is a new concept in warfare and the type of training Canadian Forces soldiers are currently undergoing. In Simcoe County, soldiers are making use of a ‘new’ training facility to prepare them for this modern warfare model.

Since 2002, Reserve and Regular Force units have been using the former Royal Canadian Air Force Station Edgar, an abandoned Cold War radar station north of Barrie, as a FIBA training centre.

Four decades after the RCAF vacated the property, almost all of the station’s the buildings remain, providing a realistic village environment, compete with institutional and residential buildings.

During the weekend of Nov. 3 to 5, Edgar played host to Exercise Cougar Spirit One. More than 200 soldiers from the Grey and Simcoe Foresters, the Governor General’s Horse Guards, 25 Medical Company, the Lorne Scotts and the Royal Canadian Dragoons participated in the exercise, a FIBA training exercise geared to replicate the situations soldiers may face in operational theatres such as Afghanistan.

Soldiers descended on the village of ‘Dirka’ in the fictional country of ‘Rukerstan.’ Flown in by helicopters from 400 Tactical Helicopter Squadron, the soldiers quickly established Forward Operation Base (FOB) Steadfast. With the ‘Black Dawn Brigade’ threatening the security of the region, Canadian troops were dispatched to the region to help secure the peace.

Once on the ground, the troops took turns providing security for the base and conducting patrols on foot in the Village of Dirka. Armoured reconnaissance patrols of the village by the GGHG assisted in discerning the friendly villagers from the enemy insurgents.

Intelligence reports indicated that the Black Dawn had amassed weapons caches within the village. In addition to finding these weapons, the patrols were tasked with securing the village and winning the trust and support of the local villagers.

This task was made much harder by occasional attacks by the Black Dawn.

When attacked, the patrols responded with decisive and effective force.

Troops cleared buildings of armed insurgents while keeping curious villagers at bay. Medics attached to each patrol group provided immediate first aid to wounded soldiers, who were evacuated, along with the dead, to a secure location for transport back to the field hospital at the FOB.

An attack on the Black Dawn stronghold early Sunday morning crippled their fighting abilities and helped stabilize the region.

Overseeing the exercise was Major Shane McArthur from the Grey and Simcoe Foresters, ‘C’ Company, based in Owen Sound, a former 21-year member of the Regular Force who recently joined the Reserves.

After Action Reviews (AAR) of all patrols and enemy engagements were conducted by Lt.-Col. Timothy Orange from the Lorne Scots. During the AAR, soldiers reviewed all actions taken while on their patrols, both the good and the bad. The goal of this process is to identify things done well and correct any deficiencies.

Given the current mission in Afghanistan, the Canadian Forces are facing a new kind of operational reality. Exercise Cougar Spirit One was designed to ensure Canada’s troops are well prepared for the job.

To see the full Barrie Advance article, go to http://www.simcoe.com/article/27347

About the author

Bruce Forsyth

Bruce Forsyth served in the Royal Canadian Navy Reserve for 13 years (1987-2000). He served with units in Toronto, Hamilton & Windsor and worked or trained at CFB Esquimalt, CFB Halifax, CFB Petawawa, CFB Kingston, CFB Toronto, Camp Borden, The Burwash Training Area and LFCA Training Centre Meaford.

Permanent link to this article: http://militarybruce.com/a-cold-war-sentinel-comes-back-to-life/

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