Article written by Private Tom De Lutis, serving in “A” Company, RMR
Westmount, Quebec – 08 February 2016: There’s much to be said about our recent exercise (GPE 4, conducted from 22 – 24 January 2016 in Laval) besides the fact that it was a cold one. It was about long exposure to the weather, enduring it, and facing it nonetheless to fight a foe. Nevertheless, that’s nearly an understatement in the grand scheme of things. In an non-simulated event, there would be a conflict or war going on; which would have brought up the stress level. But in this case it wasn’t. So, this exercise actually gave us – including me – some incentive and practice in winter warfare, which, believe it or not, is passive. Comparing to conventional warfare in the summer wilderness to urban areas, fighting in the winter is much about “outlasting the enemy against the elements” as one of my sergeants describes it. Just look at the Russian against Finland in World War II – perfect example. It’s about long manoeuvering tactics, thinking how to use the elements to your advantage, and keeping the morale high; give or take.
It isn’t easy, winter is a tough season for many reasons. Especially on the defensive, in which we were. Trust me when I say that I started to feel like a Bonhomme de neige after hours outside throughout the day and night; luckily the exercise wasn’t the whole winter. To be frank, I give my respects to the Canadian Rangers far to the North; they deserve it. And to any other folks that go through the harshness of winter. For example, I had time to spend with during the whole exercise with Cpl. Smith from the Black Watch who for some reason thrives throughout the cold like an Alaskan wolf – a tough and insulated individual.
On a personal note: stay dry! Its very simple: getting wet equals to becoming an popsicle. So change clothes on a regular bases, especially socks, and whenever time is given to you. Also, drinking… some… water! Its not because it’s winter that you shouldn’t drink the basic amount of water necessary which the human body needs. You are far more likely to get dehydrated faster then getting hypothermia – more or less.
Having said all that I’ve intended to share, I want to point out one last thing: the bigger picture. The reason in why in the ‘Hell’ do we – Canadian soldiers – do such a thing? Well… for me, I just think I’m just nuts like General Anthony McAuliffe said to the Germans in World War II. As for any other soldiers I have no clue! But for the RMR guys it’s quite simple really… Honi Soit Qui Mal Y Pense.