The Royal Westminster Regiment hosted 37 soldiers from the Oregon National Guard’s 2nd Battalion, 162nd Infantry Regiment, 41st Infantry Combat Brigade for winter training from January 24 to 28. The snowy conditions in Manning Provincial Park provided an excellent opportunity for the 93 Canadian Army Reserve soldiers and 8 Canadian Rangers to practice and pass on winter survival skills and conduct light infantry tasks during EXERCISE WESTIE AVALANCHE.
The deep snow and low temperatures in Manning Provincial Park challenged the Canadian and American soldiers conducting dismounted operations, moving on snowshoes and carrying supplies by toboggan. “It isn’t always easy” said Master Corporal Jarl of Delta Company, the Royal Westminster Regiment, of the training “but the challenge is actually quite satisfying in hindsight. Working within a team where everyone is sharing the hardship makes it almost fun.”
The ability to operate in the cold weather environment is essential for the soldiers, who were able to build on their knowledge with specific training from the Canadian Rangers. The Canadian Rangers are a unique component of the Canadian Armed Forces, working in small patrols as local experts and survival professionals. They shared their knowledge on building shelters and finding food with the Canadian and American troops during several days of non-stop training.
The Royal Westminster Regiment has previously trained with the 162nd Infantry Regiment at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, conducting urban operations training. The combined training activities permit the NATO allies to understand and learn from each other’s skills and methods in preparation for future operations so interoperability isn’t an issue on the battlefield.
The training exercise was an introduction to winter warfare skills with an emphasis on winter mobility, survival, winter indoctrination, and tent group operations. Split into small tent groups, the mixed Canadian and US Army teams quickly learned the “hacks” for working in the cold, such as being able to change clothes in a sleeping bag in a snow cave during the occasional opportunity for rest.
The Royal Westminster Regiment Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Chuck MacKinnon, of Chilliwack, spoke about the need for joint training “The U.S. is our partner and the reality is we both end up operating together in places around the world,” said MacKinnon. “Our armies are now intermingling so much, and what I found overseas is that we approach the same problem with two different perspectives. Understanding what we both bring to the picture and how we think differently is a huge advantage.”
International cooperation with our allies provides valuable training opportunities for members of the Canadian Armed Forces primary reserve. If you are interested in these and other exciting opportunities, become “twice the citizen” and join the Royal Westminster Regiment by contacting the Recruiting Officer at 604-666-4282 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.