During the summer of 2020, amidst the COVID19 pandemic, soldiers of the King’s Own Calgary Regiment prepared for an eventful summer in support of 41 Brigade Battle School courses at CFB Wainwright. One of the courses to be conducted was to qualify senior non-commission members of the King’s Own with the Armoured Reconnaissance Patrol Commander Course (ARPC). Five seasoned soldiers would be candidates on the course and were tested on the higher-level armoured reconnaissance progression. This course allows the rank of Sergeant to be completed and obtained.
The Armoured Reconnaissance Patrol Commander course is the next stage in the progression of the armoured reconnaissance trade, right after the Armoured Crew Commander Course (ACC) which allows the rank of Master Corporal to be completed.
This course teaches its candidates the ability to conduct higher level battle procedure utilizing new tools such as a more in-depth time analysis and estimating various factors in combat and how their mission could be affected by said factors, and what tools are at the disposal of the senior leader to successfully complete their mission. Also allowing successful candidates to lead a reconnaissance “patrol”, usually consisting of two armoured vehicles with a total of up to 10 armoured reconnaissance crewmen within their command.
Prior to the full-time field portion of the course, the students and instructors were conducting the course, part-time, over weekends in the prior months starting in January 2020. The students learned various in-class theory and participated in some training over weekends. Due to the events in April caused by the Pandemic, the training was immediately halted until such time that the case numbers were stifled. Throughout the field portion, COVID19 measures were utilized and presented a unique and unprecedented circumstance for training to be conducted on the course. This new challenge was overcome due to the steadfast commitment of the soldiers and those participating to ensure the success of the course and allow the students to be qualified Patrol Commander Sergeants.
The training schedule was intense, conducting two or sometimes up to three missions a day to meet the course objectives and complete assessments required to be qualified. The long days contributed to overall fatigue as the days went by on the course, but all the drivers and gunners pushed on and enjoyed the training, conducting daily engagements, and helping manoeuvre around the opposing force as the candidates directed the movements of their vehicle and the movements of the junior support vehicle. Enemy engagements were swiftly communicated through to higher command to understand enemy intent and disposition.
Snap changes to plans were a constant theme with new orders coming down the radio to test the candidate’s ability to adapt to a changing environment. Foot patrols were also conducted in order to gain a stealthy advantage over the enemy with the candidate’s being reassessed on their ability to lead a dismounted reconnaissance mission.
After 11 days in the field, learning and implementing the new skills taught, all five students successfully completed and graduated with the qualification of Armoured Reconnaissance Patrol Commander. Congratulations to Sgts Lincoln, Stiff, Thunderchild, Walsh and Wennerstrom were now fully trained and completed the mentally arduous course.