Page 102 - The Rifles Bugle Autumn 2019
P. 102

     Camouflage; less is more
Just letting it soak boss
D Company experiences from OPFOR on Ex Prairie Storm
British Army Training Unit Suffield is the largest exercise area used by the British Army. Sitting towards the south of the vast state of Alberta, the sheer barrenness of the prairie was evident from the flight as D Company, as part of the Royal Dragoon Guards Battle group, descended into Calgary airport. We were tasked with supporting the Queen’s Royal Hussars (QRH) and 3 Regiment Royal Logistic Corps (3 RLC) battlegroups in their training, by acting as deadly and freethinking OPFOR.
After making the long flight we were transported to Crowfoot Camp, named after Chief Crowfoot, a battle-hardened native American warrior and diplomat. This was to be the Dog’s home for the next two months. Jetlagged bodies collapsed into cosy bunk beds before waking to sample the finest Canadian breakfast Army chefs had to offer, including morning pancakes and maple syrup. However, these indulgences did not prevent a strict regime of acclimatisation PT conducted in a foot of snow and glaring sunshine, such is the erratic nature of the weather in Alberta. While the exercising troops undertook the live firing phase of their exercise, the Riflemen of D Company were fortunate enough to be able to enjoy some of the best Adventurous Training (AT) the Army offers, with trips away kayaking, rock climbing, hiking and even horse riding; LCpl Grant found himself struggling with the difference in controlling 30 tonnes of Warrior compared to a free-thinking and stubborn mare! Cultural opportu-
nities were also available, with the JNCOs heading to Banff to see the sights and company headquarters conducting a thorough recce of the 700 local ales available at the Calgary beer festival.
Following these lighter activities, it was time for the Dogs to shake out in a three-day light role exercise. What better way to deploy on the ground than a Blackhawk insertion, prompting some very green faces nervously looking out of the open doors of the helicopter, speeding along just metres away from the ground. After a sharp tab to a Company harbour, diligent JNCOs ensured that all Riflemen were familiar with all new TES kit and understood what were to become battle-winning assets for the forthcoming Prairie Storm; NLAW, RPG, and Sharpshooter rifles. Importantly, the Dogs were able to get into their first real scrap, defending against an RDG Squadron who were determined to break through and make a trophy of the OC’s Land Rover. Important lessons were learned, not least about the capability of the T90 (CVR (T)) tanks that we would soon be fighting alongside.
After a relatively seamless process of taking over the Warriors, it was finally time for Prairie Storm to begin. The OPFOR Battlegroup found themselves entering a planning cycle that would have D Company conducting a series of Delay operations. One tree populates the entirety of the prairie, so cover is sparse; with temperatures pushing thirty degrees, the Company did well to complete a series of withdrawals from frontages over three kilometres. The first real chance for the OPFOR infantry to sink their teeth into exercising troops came with the urban defence of village Bharamtepe, where vicious obstacles were created, including the impenetrable FOB Harman and an invisible sub-surface OP. LCpl Hellier had particular success in assassinating the punchily named “Sabre 0A” – the QRH Commanding Officer. Victory is always a double-edged sword however, as the Company were identified by ISTAR and IED’d in the early hours of the morning.
The Dog’s next task was to challenge the combat skills of 3 Regiment RLC in a surprise raid. Luckily
          100 FIFTH BATTALION
Preparing to board a Black Hawk

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