Over the weekend of November 22nd to 24th, 2019, the King’s Own Calgary Regiment headed out to the plains of Suffield, Alberta to conduct Exercise King’s Patriot; the annual C6 Machine Gun camp and familiarization shoot. The main objective for the weekend was to qualify all of A Squadron soldiers on their annual C6 Machine Gun qualifications as well as the hopes for all soldiers and leadership from A Squadron to leave the weekend being qualified in the Individual Battle Tasks Standard (IBTS) level 2. IBTS standards are meant as a way to uphold training and perform certain tasks in battle to a testable standard. In this case, with IBTS Level 2, armoured recce crews must conduct a shoot and move with a singular vehicle. The soldiers within the crew would rotate between various crew positions within a vehicle with each troop having the chance to take the role of driver, gunner, and a dismounting crewman, becoming comfortable in all three while learning the various tasks involved when performing individual crew battle runs. This would be all conducted with a qualified crew commander running the show. The battle drills would be setup with sequence of targets were in the field as a practice scenario. The vehicle and crew would move and adopt various fire positions, moving from one location to another while stopping to engage in enemy contacts (targets). The Regiment’s B Squadron was also present on exercise with their objects for the weekend to introduce new soldiers to basic winter warfare techniques including toboggan packing, up-tent down-tent drills as well as being present to do a familiarization shoot on the C6.
Several soldiers from both A and B Squadron also took the opportunity over the weekend to conduct their C7 Personal Weapons Test (PWT) 1 and 3 qualification shoots. Both shoots are done from various positions of prone, standing, kneeling and sitting. Individuals who participated in the PWT 3 shoot met standards with some walking away having claimed the title of marksman, receiving a score of 39/49 or higher.
With the help of an advance party which assisted in the field preparation work on Friday, the Regiment was able to leave Calgary for the field by 2200hrs. Upon arrival A squadron troops quickly set up their crew tents and went to rest, while only some trained B squadron stayed in 5-man arctic tents. The remainder of B Squadron, stayed at CFB Suffield in shacks for the night.
The next morning started with A Squadron troops prepping their vehicles for the day’s shoot. By 0900hrs the regiment was formed up and ready to receive orders for the day’s activities as well as to receive specific range orders. After plywood targets had been positioned on the range in varying distances from 300 – 1600 meters, A Squadron troops were ready to be issued their ammunition and begin their mounted static shoots. This was the first time myself as a Trooper to be able to fire live rounds through the C6
general purpose machine gun (GPMG) in a mounted position. This was also a new experience for myself as it was my first time as a gunner to be given specific gunner commands which were taught in classroom lectures and practiced prior to departing for the weekend. Under the watchful eye of range staff and crew commanders, all A Squadron soldiers cycled through on the weapons getting to shoot nearly 200 rounds each. After all members of A Squadron had completed their static shoot it was time to move on to begin running through the crew battle runs.
Again, this was the first time for myself as a qualified Trooper to be able to take part in such training. It gave myself as well as all A Squadron soldiers the opportunity to learn to receive gunner commands while in a vehicle and “on the move”. I found the experience beneficial as it was a chance to become more independent as a gunner and learning that you cannot always rely on your vehicle crew commander to indicated targets for you, and as well, provide corrections to your aim to ensure rounds hit the target. After the first set of crews finished their runs, the patrol had finished running cycling through their battles runs and it was time for lunch. While A Squadron brewed up rations and ate, it provided time for the B Squadron troops to take advantage of the mounted weapons and become familiar with what it will be like once they receive their trades qualifications. Each B Squadron soldier was provided a 200 round box of ammunition to fire. After the troops had a chance to fire off some ammunition it was time for A Squadron to resume with the IBTS battle runs. With timings working out better than expected and crews being able to complete their battle runs at a quick and efficient pace, everyone was able to become qualified on IBTS level 2, and we were able to run through level 3 IBTS drills, which included performing battle runs at a patrol level, with 2 vehicles completing their runs at the same time both supporting each by fire as each vehicle moves. This was an interesting learning experience to witness the crew commanders in both vehicles communicate with one another while gunners were in charge of relaying accurate and timely information to be passed along.
With the sun beginning to set, 1 out of the 3 patrols were able to become IBTS 3 qualified. With light disappearing the remaining members of B squadron were able to complete their familiarization shoot, which was a neat experience to witness for the first time with tracers going off in the dark as they fired at the targets. This marked the end of the training day as all troops returned to the bivouac site for the night to eat dinner, address admin points and get rested. The next morning went by quick as the remaining A Squadron troops performed their level 3 IBTS drills and prepped the trucks in preparation for the road move back to Calgary. With the help of B Squadron and the Admin Troop packing all the tents and equipment, we were able to have depart CFB Suffield at a reasonable time to finish off the weekend on a positive note.
Overall the weekend went better than was expected with ideal weather conditions. As well, all of A Squadron becoming C6 qualified for the year as well as to a level 3 IBTS standard, learning valuable skills to become better troops within the regiment and sharing some laughs along the way.