The King’s Own Calgary Regiment at Worthington Challenge 2016
Worthington Challenge is an international armoured crew skills competition that runs each year at CFB Gagetown, New Brunswick. The competition challenges soldiers on their skills both as individuals and as members of an armoured crew. This year there was a greater emphasis on basic soldier skills such as rifle and pistol marksmanship, navigation, armoured fighting vehicle identification, and adopting an observation post; all in addition to armoured gunnery. The challenge also brought camaraderie and cooperation from the international armies in attendance. This year the armies of Chile, New Zealand, America and Denmark were represented in the competition.
The King’s Own Calgary Regiment sent an armoured fighting vehicle crew which represented the Primary Reserve from the 3rd Canadian Division. As our preparatory training began it was slightly fragmented, which was a result of coordinating the crew’s civilian work schedules, and lead to individual members studying material and practicing skills during their spare time. In order to gain further practice our team was integrated with the divisional team at CFB Edmonton. The Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians), the regular force armoured regiment from 3rd Division, spearheaded the collective training of all the 3rd Division teams. While training with the LdSH (RC) we practiced our first-aid scenarios, where a medic trained us in proper tactical first aid procedures. Our driver was able to hone his vehicle navigation on the AFV track and the team as a whole participated in the obstacle course, rifle and pistol marksmanship, all while relentlessly studying AFV slides in every spare moment. During this time we also completed a three day training exercise where we fired from our respective vehicle platforms and conducted night navigation. Overall the training proved to be very beneficial to our performance once we arrived in Gagetown.
Upon arrival at the Royal Canadian Armoured Corps School in Gagetown, we were welcomed and underwent a half days’ worth of briefings. There we were introduced to the other teams participating and received instructions for the conduct of the competition. Afterwards we were invited the Sergeant’s Mess where the Chilean team hosted a function and we were able to socialize with the other Canadian and international teams.
The Driver and Maintenance Stand was composed of two parts and two scenarios within those parts. The first part of the stand was an orders group followed by a 2km run. After the run was complete we got into our vehicle and began part two. Here the AFV track tested our abilities further as we navigated the terrain, going over ditches, washboards while avoiding mines, and other obstacles. Throughout this portion we were presented with two notional scenarios. The first was based upon a flat tire where we had to change the tire and were evaluated on the conduct of the change. The second scenario presented was the first aid scenario where we encountered a friendly vehicle that had been blown up and we were expected to take command of the scene and administer first aid to the notional casualties before continuing to the next stand.
The AFV stand was also conducted in two separate portions. The first being the orders group followed by the conduct of a live fire range from our respective vehicles. This stand was completed in fire-teams where two vehicle crews advanced together through the range and were assessed on their ability to identify and destroy targets. We were also evaluated on time, accuracy and our ability to effectively communicate the situation we faced over the radios.
The Navigation stand was my favourite by far and involved five segments in total. The stand required us to navigate to the starting point from our previous position based upon their grid. Upon arrival we were briefed, and went on to complete each of the remaining portions. Here we had to adopt an observation post, then establish a helicopter landing site and then properly use several optics to find and identify various concealed armoured fighting vehicles. After that we were instructed to navigate using our vehicle to find a UAV that had crashed, and finally to call in an artillery fire mission. With all of this complete within the 90 minute time limit we had to navigate back to our original starting point.
The final stand of the competition was the march and shoot which was also timed and comprised of several different components. We began by completing a military obstacle course as a crew. Next we were required to disassemble and reassemble the C6 general purpose machine gun before beginning a 7Km march. The march lead us to a small arms range where we conducted live-fire shooting with personal weapons. Immediately after the range was complete we had our memories tested based upon items we had been allowed to look at for 60 seconds prior to beginning the range.
Our team represented both the King’s Own and 3rd Division very well, especially given our comparatively shorter training time. Throughout the challenge we demonstrated that we could compete with our regular force peers and that we were every bit as professional and capable. For me the trip and competition were very rewarding as it allowed me to refresh and practice my basic soldier skills while leading a crew through a series of challenging scenarios. I look very much forward to seeing what we can accomplish with a full team next year.
Lt S.S. Cavanagh.
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