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Cougar Salvo 2006, 11-18 March

Tip for this year, inform all the REMF's that there are actually combat arms training in the field and that it isn't just a big army campout. I actually enjoyed the ex last year (but that's coming off of the active edge debacle). But it pissed me off when a buddy and I acquired an LS to make a canteen run for the troops and when getting there were told that they were closed (the dude's running it were too busy watching videos in the back of the mod). We'd come out of the field every now and then and you'd see all these wog's running around like it was summer camp staring at us like we're aliens. And we had some sergeant major of some svc battalion telling us where to park, like he couldn't find something more pressing to deal with than to patrol the designated parking area. Instead of running two seperate exercises: combat arms and a wog ex, maybe a proper brief for ALL trades as to what the ex is suppose to be about would be appropriate ie this is the overall mission for the brigade, the combat arms are doing this, the support trades will SUPPORT them. Although I can never say anything bad about the cookies and the EMEs. The cooks are the only guys I know who work longer hours than the infantry. And when the said LS broke down on the way back from our failed mission, it was the EMEs, as always, to the rescue. Ah well, tis my right to complain.
RangerRay said:
My biggest beef with COUGAR SALVO when I was in was it was held at the wrong time of year.  Being in university at the time, I could not participate due to classes and mid-term exams at the time.  Has there been any thought to holding during the uni Reading Break when more reservists in uni can take part?

Again, I apologise if this is out of line.
Not out of line.  I know it was considered, though UBC's break is this week which is awfully early in the training year for a cumulative collective training event.  I believe we are aligned with the high school spring break though of course any high school student soldiers are likely to be untrained or partially trained and therefore not the primary training audience.

Attendance last year was strong and combined with a very successful exercise Cougar Salvo should be a "can't miss" ex this year.  Everyone knows school is for losers so I encourage university students to get ahead on their assignments and reading and skip the week of classes (you were probably going to skip half of them anyway) so they can attend.  Will you learn more in the Ivory Tower or doing fighting patrols and live section attacks?  *This is not an official endorsement for skipping school.  Never listen to M4-10.  Ever.*
I'm looking forward to attending cougar salvo this year and being fully trained now ill be conducting attacks instead of doing GD... i hope. Last year was actually fairly fun considering i washed dishes, i got to go up in the griffon on a recce flight for the arty it was quite an experience. We in the Westies have an ex at the end of the month using simunitions to prime us for cougar salvo.

I was also surprised by the fact that the people in the rear area (were the mess was) did not ever carry weapons or tac vests. All the weapons were just locked in the back of a Uhaul and EIS was left in tents. If this ex is supposed to be simulating a military deployment i thought that weapons needed to be brought with the individual then again i don't have any tours or deployment experience to think otherwise.

You are just bitter because you had to do the recce before the raid!
So?  What did people think about the ex?  I know I enjoyed myself in B Company.  I'll make some detailed comments later but I'd like to hear from other people on the exercise first, hopefully from all corners.
I was in A company...

The best parts:
Individual live fire jungle lanes with the AN/PVS-17, C7A2, and PAC4-C. Unbelievably fun.
Helicopter insertions for the raid.
Live fire section attacks.

The worst parts:
Shack Hack; I think everyone was infected at one point or another.
The amphibious boat landings for the cordon and search; could the boat commanders have gone any slower?
The raid after the helis had left; so cold.

Overall though, lots of fun. However, I think the majority of the training could have been done on a weekend ex; I think they missed out on doing some truly unique training given the budget they had and the pers available.
Although i wasn't there, a little bird tells me that the mysterious upper respiratory tract illness was nicknamed CSD (Canadian Scottish Disease). I also heard the Scottish made an excellent go of the c+s exercise.
Although we are technically not part of the ex I'll give some input from my little corner.

I spent most of the time (Mar 10-17) up on Dufferin Hill in a RRB det. Aside from what I heard over the radio and what I saw in the few times I went down to the camp I was really quite segregated from the ex. That being said I still found the ex to be a valuable trg/learning experience:

  • I learned some technical stuff about my trade and for the first time got to operate on a brigade level net (although being in a RRB det there was not really much to do).
  • I learned that one certain person likes to use the 'R' word a lot even when told not to. ::)
  • I learned that aside from what I have experienced in other places, the people of Kamloops are, from what I experienced, curious about the military and generally friendly (we had a lot of inquisitive hikers pass by).
  • I learned that a bunch of naked singing Brits and me in the MLBU makes for quite the experience. :eek:
  • I learned how the military operates in the field on a scale larger then a unit level ex.
  • I learned a lot about the who/what/where/why/how of a RRB det.
  • I learned how the various css aspects and combat arms work together.

Over all we had very few comms problems on the ex and from what I experienced and what the troop WO and Lt said the ex was a success on the signals side of things. I personally learned a lot about how the military operates on a brigade level and I learned a lot of specifics about my trade. I found Ex Cougar Salvo 06 to be an invaluable trg and learning experience for some one new to the forces like myself. It was a success for me.
Cougar Salvo 06  was good.

High Points.
- Live fire... first time doing live fire attacks it was definitely some invaluable experience. The night shoot with AN/PVS 14's PAQ4C's was awesome.
- Having the engineers do a live blast on the objective at the raid... filled in that missing piece of a raid.
- Helo's... even though B coy didn't get to do an insertion with them (due to weather) the rehearsals alone was a good training event.

Low points
- Cordon and search... to many non players just randomly walking around without any designating marks. Also many of the staff wore only a small white arm band and was quite had to tell who was enemy and who was staff from a few hundred meters away... a hit me vest would be better and some off the staff wore these but not all.
- I would like to see the exercise have more of a flow. There was a backround package on the enemy in the area given out and it would be nice to see more played on the scenario... example the a convoy gets attacked and now a QRF has to deploy... more interplay between units would be good too.

there were other small things just tried to keep it to a few key points.
All of our issues were brought up in the AAR's and should be nothing new.

But, I still want to stress out the interesting situation were we had MP's answering to CivPol, who themselves were answering to the military. I understand that we can learn a lot from  them(and we have, at every opportunity). At the same time, I have to ask myself how this could ever possibly happen on ops.

I know it would be hard to entice police officers (and ERT teams) to come out if they didn't have as much freedom as they did, its just that it makes for and interresting CoC in the field.
Dissident said:
But, I still want to stress out the interesting situation were we had MP's answering to CivPol, who themselves were answering to the military. I understand that we can learn a lot from  them(and we have, at every opportunity). At the same time, I have to ask myself how this could ever possibly happen on ops.

I know it would be hard to entice police officers (and ERT teams) to come out if they didn't have as much freedom as they did, its just that it makes for and interresting CoC in the field.
My CO (Chief CIVPOL on the Ex) brought this up after in the mess.  Placing MPs TACON to NATO CIVPOL apparently went all the way to JAG in Ottawa and kicked over a bee's nest.  He was pretty excited that Cougar Salvo may affect national doctrine with regards to civilian agencies.  As he explained, placing the military subordinate to civilian organizations is already happening informally overseas under the "lead agency" concept.  I'm sure we'll hear more of this as the lawyers apply skull sweat to the topic.
I only have a couple of gripes about the exercise. Overall it was a good ex, lots of valuable training. As En Force the thing i saw most that needed improving was the communication between the higher ups and the soldiers doing the training. There was alot of us En force sitting around for extended periods waiting for convoys and attacks that were extremely late, one instance we were to ambush a convoy and it came 5-6 hours late resulting waiting for 9 hours. This was due to the convoy commander doing an AAR half way through the convoy and troops taking to much time at specific scenarios along the route. If there was better communication the commander would have known there are people waiting and could have adjusted his timings accordingly. It was not that bad though, yea it sucks waiting, and being screwed around, but it was a necessary evil and I wont complain. Im simply bringing this up to show that in future exercises there has to be more attention focused towards communication between the troops on the ground and the people making the decisions. Some other examples include convoys(armoured recce) blowing right through a scenario consisting of a mock landmine strike on 2 millcots. They were plainly marked and its difficult to understand how someone would drive past the scenario when theres someone running on the streets yelling he's blind and a sentry informing the first vehicle this is a scenario for you. This happened because the convoy did not know they had a scenario at this point, and were confused as to whats going on. In an operational setting it would have been easier to see the landwine strike with destroyed vehicles and holes in the road, but on a dry ex with 2 normal looking millcots and a perfectly fine soldier running around making a fool of himself... easily put you can see the communication deficiencies.

People did get jocked around, but that stuff happens, its the army, if the higher ups can take anything from this post its simply that communication needs to be improved.
Positive Points:

-The live fire trg is always a valuble experience. We should do way more of this. Apparently the night shoot was a real eye                  opener to some of the new kit, as well.
-Helicopters are always cool
-weather cooperated for the most part.
-Rental heaters turned the tents into Tropical Islands at night... Ahhh

Negative Points:

This is by far my biggest beef. The killhouse after the Cordon & Search lasted all of half an hour. I think we only ran through it 2 or 3 times. Last year we had a full day to take advantage of simunition as a training resource. While I was lucky enough to kick in a few doors and fire my weapon, I was really disapointed to hear that some guys never even saw an enemy soldier, nor took any sort of fire. We rarely get to use simunition(in fact the only other time I can think of was last year on CS 05), so to not take advantage of its presence is really unfortunate, an opportunity wasted.

-Cougar Salvo Disease: Yikes. Unpleasant. I don't think there is anything anyone could do about this, it is a fact of life when you live in such close quarters to a bunch of sick people. Regardless, it was not fun, and being the constant whiner that I am, I felt the need to mention it.

-Cordon and Search: Some might say it went well, but when the convoy pulled right through uncleared sections of town.....well, that has the potential to be a significant problem, right? This may have been a planning or coordination problem, tthough, and not related to the running of the scenario. Apparently there were other bumps along the way (I heard that a VCP was in place right outside of town long before we hit the beach), and a distinct lack of water made the river move, perhaps, a poor choice. And, boy oh boy, was it chilly out there!

-My last beef was with the time we wasted. Usually I am not one to complain about being paid to do nothing, however, the first day on the ground, we did very little. The last day (post raid), after the weapons cleaning, we did nothing. Sure, the age old excuse of 'Sr NCOs could have laid on some refresher training' may apply, but shouldn't a plan have been in place from higher up to have something on the go? Even a lecture or two would have provided for a relaxed yet informative afternoon. Given that we had next to no time to go through the killhouse, I find it unfortunate that we spent the better part of two days of an 8 day ex waiting around camp. Perhaps I need to relax and accept the 'hurry up and wait' side of the ballgame, I don't know.

Overall, I would say it was an average ex. Perhaps my expectations were too high after the near perfection of last year.
Well I know for myself I was TOLD I was going to be enemy force...Figured with SQ under my belt, my DP1 (Gunners course) wouldn't be needed for this particular exercise but, this being the army, I got thrown into gate guard sentry and roaming patrols up in Tranquille.

Although it wasn't as bad as those who were down at FSG, many didn't take passwords too seriously.  We had engineers from Canada and the UK just blowin right by making sentries look like morons...We had full COL's who didn't even know the password.

I don't know bout the rest of you but if this were a real war situation, their vehicle wouldn't last...They definetely wouldn't be saying, "No one told me the password."

Tranquille was the home for the Cscots, Seaforth, and many Cordon and Searches/Helicopter insertion and evac happened there...Comms between FSG and Tranquille was definetely a crap shoot.

But, some stories came from my unit (5 Fd.) about a convoy being 9 hours late...They weren't even properly dressed as they laid in the snow and froze...Kit wasn't distributed properly for those up there...

All and all I guess it wasn't so great on my end...I'm sure others had a blast and some even worse...

Had Caustic Shock right after down in Yakima...Here's just a short clip and some music I filmed when i was down there:

Caustic Shock Direct Fire Shoot 5th Field Regiment RCA