By Lt Kyung Sun Choi, 3 Troop Commander, 12 Field Squadron
1 Combat Engineer Regiment (1 CER) conducted Exercise VAUBAN’s REVENGE in the Canadian Forces Base Wainwright training area from 14 to 28 October, 2014. Although the exercise primarily focused on the field squadrons conducting section and troop-level mobility and counter-mobility tasks, it also provided the Regiment with an opportunity to strengthen its bonds with the US Army, by hosting a platoon of US sappers during the first half of the exercise. A re-organization of 12 Field Squadron occurred at the start of the exercise to ensure that each troop and platoon in the Squadron contained American squads and Canadian sections. This increased the educational value of the exchange by enabling the sappers from each nation to work closely together throughout the exercise.
Exercise VAUBAN’S REVENGE commenced with the late-night deployment of 12 Field Squadron to Wainwright. Upon arrival, the Squadron deployed into a leaguer to plan and prepare for multiple bridging tasks, thanks to 2 CER / 4 Canadian Division allowing us to keep their Medium Girder Bridge (MGB) in Wainwright after they redeployed from Ex MAPLE RESOLVE 14, and for the emplacement of a reserved bridge demolition. Despite having no bridging experience, the American sappers actively participated in the construction of a 31.1 m MGB (12-bay MLC 70) at a highly restricted site and the construction of a 49.4 m MGB (22 bay MLC 20) at a location that proved equally challenging. The American Platoon also demonstrated a keen willingness to learn and apply the Canadian doctrine for the reserved demolition tasks. The Squadron significantly developed its bridging skills during this phase of the exercise, with the troops conducting follow-on bridging tasks that included using the capsill roller beam and conducting far-bank tear downs of the MGB.
With the bridges stripped, the Squadron moved to the Eastern side of the Wainwright training area to focus on counter-mobility tasks. The troops emplaced concertina fences, log hurdles, tactical minefields, crater groups, and wire obstacles. This phase provided an outstanding opportunity for the sappers from both nations to learn how the other nation emplaces the various types of obstacles. They then mechanically and explosively breached the obstacles that were emplaced by their peers. This included allowing the Americans to teach the Canadian sappers how they prepare blocks of C4 explosives.
Exercise VAUBAN’s REVENGE highlighted the continued importance of battle procedure at all levels. Many lessons were learned as a result of the unrelenting pace of 12 Field Squadron’s tasks during the exercise, which forced the troops to continue pushing despite working on minimal sleep. Many points of improvement and sustainment were identified during Exercise VAUBAN’s REVENGE, enabling 12 Field Squadron to develop a solid foundation of engineer knowledge and experience that will better position the Squadron for high readiness training next summer as part of Task Force 1-16.