Exercise Paladin Response

Western Sentinel, Thursday February 17, 2011

Capt Chris Poulton, Public Affairs officer, 39 Canadian Brigade Group

More than 170 Army Reserve engineers and support trades participated in Exercise Paladin Response during the last week of December 2010 in Chilliwack, B.C. It was the largest Reserve engineer exercise in Land Force Western Area. Reservists from across Canada, and as far north as Yellowknife, travelled to Chilliwack where they honed their skills in bridging, rafting, and operating assault boats.

“The bridge assets are available during the Christmas holidays, and that’s the reason for the timing,” said Maj Cameron McLean of 39 Combat Engineer Regiment.

“We’re so blessed with training here in Chilliwack, we can do everything twelve months a year, and that’s really why we do it here.”

The soldiers were divided into three troops and the exercise was done in a ‘round-robin’ fashion in three training areas for medium girder bridge, medium raft, and assault boat training.

“Each troop does a day at each one and they rotate through,” said Maj McLean. “On day four, which is an exercise half day, we run an exercise scenario.” The training scenario was based on a domestic operations flood response. The engineers were asked to support civilian authorities in rescuing displaced persons in a washed out village.

The soldiers were required to transport medics and military police in assault boats to assist the displaced people who were played by other soldiers.

“They’re going to pick up some vehicles that are stranded, pick up some role players [casualties] and do first aid,” said Maj McLean. “They will bring them back to the emergency shelter.” For part of the exercise, engineers used a zip line to move casualties across a creek.

Seventy five per cent of the
Reserve engineers who participated did not have formal bridge training before they arrived. Maj McLean said the troops were not experienced in gap crossing and bridging, and that was one of the primary reasons for the exercise.

“In the old days you used to get bridge training in QL 3,” he said, adding that a Reserve engineer can be in a unit for years before getting formal bridge training.

Exercise Paladin Response has been a long standing tradition with the Reserve engineers of 39 Combat Engineer Regiment for decades. Only within the last few years has it made a surge to be more than a regimental exercise involving participation from Reservists across Canada.

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