Regular and Reserve Force integrate during Stalwart Guardian 2016

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Article / August 24, 2016 / Project number: c-ar-integration

PETAWAWA, ONTARIO - Exercise STALWART GUARDIAN 2016 (SG16), the major yearly exercise conducted by the 4th Canadian Division is now well underway. Approximately 1500 soldiers from the Regular and Reserve Forces are sharpening their individual skills but, more importantly, they are learning to work together as integrated units. For reservists, who do not normally get to spend several weeks at a time in the field or have easy access to some of the army’s equipment, exercises like SG16 are an opportunity not to be missed.

“They’re learning more in a couple of weeks than they normally would in a year,” says Captain Heath Bott, Operations Officer, November Company, 3rd Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment (3 RCR). “By all accounts their experience has been excellent.”

Several reserve infantry units from across Ontario are fully integrated into 3 RCR operations during SG16. In addition to helicopter and assault boat operations, the training has included several types of live fire ranges culminating in a platoon attack - about 50 soldiers all moving and firing live ammunition on a simulated enemy objective.

“There are a lot of moving parts to that. Lots of stimulus. Commanding and controlling a platoon attack requires special skill sets,” says Captain Bott, adding the training so far has been designed to develop exactly those skills. “The big challenge is maintaining communication with the sections as the attack progresses.”

Some of the reservists are functioning in leadership roles up to and including platoon positions during these exercises.

“Some of the best attacks so far have been led by reservists,” continues Bott, who spent 12 of his 18 years in the military as a reservist with the Governor General’s Foot Guard. But it is not just reservists who benefit from SG16’s integration.

“Often when we go on exercise, our platoons and companies are under strength,” says Captain Bott, explaining that this can be deceiving for 3 RCRC commanders conducting planning; an undersized formation doesn’t take up the same space and moves differently than a full sized one. 

“But with the Reservists, companies are company sized and so on. This gives us the opportunity to better understand what a formation can do in real time. It is hard to gauge what you can do with a company of soldiers until you’ve done it at full size.”

The integration and reinforcement of SG16 has other benefits for the Regular Force as well.

“Some of our younger guys don’t get the opportunity to mentor others,” says Captain Bott. “But some of the reservists are new recruits - only having come off their initial infantry courses a few weeks ago and are therefore in need of mentors. This means some of our very junior soldiers get to develop their leadership skills.”

Exercise STALWART GUARDIAN 2016 wraps up on August 26th 2016. At that point, members of participating reserve units will return to their home bases better prepared to work with their regular force comrades should the need arise domestically or overseas.

By Captain Jonathan Link, Public Affairs Representative 4th Canadian Division.

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