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Exercise Steadfast Warrior 2012

MCpl Summerfield on Exercise Steadfast Warrior

This summer was a busy one for me as a new reservist infanteer with the Lorne Scots. Having just completed trade qualification courses (BMQ Land and DP1) back to back in Meaford, I volunteered for exercise Steadfast Warrior and was on my way to Petawawa immediately after graduation. Looking back it’s a decision I’m glad I made. Exercise Steadfast Warrior provided by far the most realistic training I have yet experienced with the Canadian Forces. It allowed me to apply and build on much of what was learned during training in Meaford as well as provided opportunities I would otherwise not have had. My platoon was fortunate enough to train with soldiers from a U.S. Army stryker brigade. Being able to live and train with the Americans was a valuable experience and everyone was able to trade stories and compare equipment. We completed an ambush together and being able to learn from one another’s techniques provided a fresh perspective on how our militaries conduct certain drills. Getting to ride in the styrkers was also definitely a highlight. Aside from training with the Americans it was also a good experience to meet and train with other Lorne Scots who aren’t from my company. I also encountered reservists from numerous other regiments, as well as some familiar faces I trained with over the summer in Meaford. One thing I’m sure all the new privates who came with me straight from Meaford to participate in Steadfast Warrior can agree on was the benefits of using WES gear. This equipment, which essentially attaches sensors to your usual vest, helmet and rifle, allows state of the art simulation of bullet trajectory and the injuries sustained if you are hit. Wearing this gear added a sense of realism that was lacking in training done without it. You were sure to take proper cover and aim your shots knowing that it was all being recorded and failing to do so could cost you your simulated life. While it was annoying at times to have to wear it, the advantage of training with such sophisticated gear was worth it. The exercise was also certainly physically demanding. There were long days spent digging trenches and setting up communication phones as well as sleepless nights being called to stand to and take shifts on sentry duty. But these hardships only served to make the training more realistic and rewarding upon completion. The positive gains outweighed the negative difficulties as a whole. The scenery itself is something most people would pay to experience. Our platoon even saw a wild black bear walking about 200 meters from our position at one point.

View from Pte Baczynski's trench position on Ex Steafast Warrior 2012

View from Pte Baczynski’s trench position on Ex Steafast Warrior 2012

On the night of the final attack everything culminated into an intense couple of hours that involved many of the main reasons I joined the army. Artillery simulations lit up the sky and the crackle of blank ammunition fire was heard non-stop. Eventually a regiment to our right flank began to be overrun and being part the QRF (quick reaction force) for our platoon we ran over to assist. There was a lot chaos and smoke everywhere. While we were scrambling to find our positions amidst the confusion my WES gear started beeping indicating I was hit. I took fatal shrapnel wounds to the chest and that was the end of it for me. Exercise Steadfast Warrior was certainly something I’m glad I got to participate in and would recommend to all reservists, particularly new privates like myself. While at times it is hard and you’d wish you weren’t there, in the end the training and experiences you have make it very much worthwhile. Had I known what it was like would I do it again? Absolutely.

Pte Baczynski

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