By Sgt Marc-André Rousseau, Sect Comd, 5 CER
A little past midnight. The day of 30 January 2012 has just begun. Some members are finalizing preparation of their personal equipment, others are chatting, and a number are in charge of coordinating the large-scale move that is about to take place. A few minutes later, the engines of the light armoured vehicles (LAVs), equipment transports and several other vehicle types are starting to be heard in the lines of 5 Combat Engineer Regiment at Valcartier. Then, with a hand signal, the Transport Sergeant tells us it’s time to depart for Sainte-Aurélie in the Beauce region. The road will be long: in the LAV it is very important to stay alert for the sake of everyone’s safety. Besides, it is snowing heavily, and God knows that having your head and shoulders sticking out at 70 km/h in the middle of winter, you’re bound to feel a “slight breeze.”
As I expected, difficult road conditions are affecting the speed of the convoy. We have to take it easy to get there. Then it happens, the vehicle right in front of us slows down and stops. A mechanical problem has brought the crew to a standstill. After several minutes of talk and a few calls, it is established that a repair vehicle will come to lend a hand. Thanks to their equipment and expertise, we will be able to resume the trip and reach our destination.
I am part of a reconnaissance team with a field engineer troop. In other words, we are the “eyes” that permit planning of the operations or tasks our troop will have to perform. The first will be setting up a checkpoint for vehicles travelling on a stretch of road. So, 24 hours ahead of time, we have to approach this key location to collect a maximum of information necessary for planning the task, but without drawing too much notice. That’s not easy with a 16-tonne fighting vehicle that stands 3 metres tall, when residents are not used to seeing such things. But we have to all the same, to accomplish our assigned mission.
2 Troop Arrives
In the middle of the night, my team and I have to travel to meet a convoy carrying all our troop’s equipment and personnel. After the “reunion,” it is my job to lead them to the main camp. As soon as we arrive, the command team has to iron out the details so that we can all take advantage of the few remaining hours of sleep and start the day on the right foot.
Cordon and Search
Our first mission is to assault a house in order to control the immediate surroundings and search the grounds, the inside of the house and its occupants. Our main objective is to find evidence, for the location is suspected of being used for trafficking of improvised explosive devices. Our success is unqualified, and now we are ready to move on to future tasks.
The exercise continued with entering buildings using explosives and conducting convoys, while living outside in winter conditions. Today, after a week, we will hold an open house to meet the Beauce residents who have welcomed us with open arms and made the exercise possible. For week two, we will be attached to the 2nd Battalion of the Royal 22e Régiment. What awaits us? Only tomorrow will tell.