Article written by Corporal Bridgette O’Driscoll
Westmount, Quebec – 18 February 2016: On the evening of January 15th, members of The Royal Montreal Regiment (RMR) gathered at the armoury in Westmount to kickoff Ex Lynx Polaire. In what is usually a rare occasion, soldiers from both Alpha and Bravo Company worked together to sharpen their winter warfare skills. The exercise began with an inspection and preparation of the equipment needed for the exercise. For the recruits of Bravo Company, the simple act of packing toboggans proved to be quality training since many had never been confronted with the equipment needed to fight in winter’s harsher conditions. The evening also consisted of lectures such as how to dress for colder climates, how to survive in the cold and how to ensure hygiene in winter conditions.
Phase 2 of Ex Lynx Polaire saw the troops deploy to CFB Farnham to put their practical skills to the test. Once in Farnham, snowshoes were handed out to every soldier of the unit and a short refresher course on how to set them up and how to move around with them was given. This proved very important as movement in snow becomes very difficult and tiring for the infantry soldier when they are not equipped with snowshoes. Once the snowshoes were dealt with, it was time to move on to the ten-man tents.
Infanteers must be proficient in the proper use of ten man tents as they offer them shelter from winter’s unforgiving conditions. The slow pace of the exercise proved to be a very positive asset as the more experienced soldiers of the unit were able to appropriately guide the new recruits as well as the inexperienced soldiers on the setting up of the tents. It also allowed the unit’s members to play around with other equipment under the supervision of exercises’ leadership. Indeed, soldiers learned about the Coleman stove and lantern. Both pieces of equipment are exceedingly significant as they are used in the heating and lighting of the tents.
With the tents set up and the bivouac site operational, it was time to test our navigational skills. The troops were divided into five detachments. Using merely a map and a compass. They navigated to itineraries that ranged from 1 to 1.5 kilometers. This allowed the members to hone their navigational skills as well practice walking through the woods with snowshoes. Participants were required to navigate in both broad daylight and at night. This navigational exercise proved to be a great refresher for the qualified members of the unit and a great practice for the new recruits.
Day 3 of the exercise saw the members of the RMR learn about winter survival. The soldiers were given lessons on winter-conditions improvised shelters, winter defences, the assembly of snares in order to catch small game and lastly on how to light an open field fire. This last lesson proved quite enjoyable for the group as it allowed them an opportunity to gather around the fire, cook sausages over an open flame and share stories. Campfires are extremely rare in the infantry and the troops made the most of the occasion.
Overall, the exercise ascertained to be a great confidence booster for the soldiers and it prepared them for the upcoming exercise; MTG 4. The weather proved to be very cooperative as well. Combining all of these elements supported for a great morale and a pronounced occasion to reinforce the already strong comradery within the unit. The exercise was a success for both the troops and the leadership core, which left everybody feeling good about what they’d accomplished during the weekend.