Bangalores, Belt Buckles, and Brits: 32 Canadian Brigade Group Exercise Culminates in Company Attack

Article / November 1, 2017 / Project number: 17-10-19-32

By 2Lt Erika Palakovic, 32 Canadian Brigade Group Public Affairs

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Meaford, Ontario — Approximately 200 soldiers from 32 Canadian Brigade Group, as well as visiting soldiers from the United Kingdom, participated in Exercise STEADFAST WARRIOR 2017 from August 25 to 31, held at the 4th Canadian Division Training Centre Meaford.

Led by the 48th Highlanders of Canada, the exercise increased to a company-level attack complete with Bangalores and other live ordnance.

The Bangalore torpedo, invented prior to the First World War by the British Army based in Bangalore, India, is an extension device with charges placed inside one or several connected pieces of pipe. Combat engineers use them to clear obstacles, shred barbed wire or detonate unexploded ordnance from a safe distance or from behind cover.

“We haven’t had a formation that big on exercise in recent memory,” said an enthused Captain Nick Butler, who commanded the company. “The pace was right and the quality of training was of the highest calibre.” In addition to being pleased with the execution, Captain Butler, who is a member of the 48th Highlanders of Canada, noted the “overwhelmingly positive responses from the soldiers.”

Corporal Henry Kolachuk of The Lincoln and Welland Regiment, who fought as part of the opposition force (OPFOR), wholeheartedly agreed. “Seeing it from the enemy’s side, you learn a lot about counteracting your own tactics,” he said, after defending an access route from soldiers who are normally his comrades. “It was an opportunity to see how you might correct some of your own mistakes.”

Engineers from 32 Combat Engineer Regiment did not have that luxury, as they employed Bangalores to blow up a razor wire obstacle, clearing the way for an infantry assault. Moreover, C4 charges were used to simulate an artillery barrage as the attack progressed.

“The effect is much stronger than regular artillery simulation,” explained Corporal Brent Dewell, and much more dangerous, he might have added. Although the charges are set off within a cordoned-off area, given the proximity to the soldiers on the ground, “a much higher amount of training is needed to handle C4,” Cpl Dewell said.

The Meaford training area saw another unusual sight on Ex STEADFAST WARRIOR: 15 British soldiers integrated and fighting alongside 32 Brigade troops against the OPFOR – their visit thanks to a 100 year plus affiliation between companies of the London Regiment in the UK and the Toronto Scottish Regiment.

“It was excellent opportunity for troops to train with our NATO partner,” said Lieutenant Colonel Harold Pedwell, Commanding Officer of the 48th Highlanders and overall commander of the exercise. Although there are differences in training and doctrine between the two armed forces, NATO armies have common standards and, said LCol Pedwell, “the integration with the British forces worked very well.”

Although there is a long history of Canadians and Brits fighting side by side, the exercise revealed two nations divided by a common language. An accented shout of “Get on your belt buckles!” brought about a few funny looks from uniformed Canucks. Turns out it means ‘lie on the ground in the prone position’ and not ‘hey mate, your pants are falling down.’

32 Canadian Brigade Group (32 CBG) is an Army Reserve Formation of the 4th Canadian Division headquartered in Toronto, Ontario.

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