Approximately 150 Reserve soldiers, primarily from the 39 Combat Engineer Regiment, Canadian Army, and the 204th Engineer Battalion, Washington Army National Guard, are expected to attend Exercise KOOTENAY CASTOR here between August 10 and 24, 2012.
“This region is ideal for hosting exciting and challenging Engineer training due to its varied terrain, lakes, and rivers,” says Major Andy McQuilkin, exercise director and Officer Commanding the Trail-based 44 Engineer Squadron (44 ES). “To maintain our readiness for a broad spectrum of tasks, our focus will be on rafting, ferry operations, and assault boating above the Hugh Keenleyside Dam and on the Columbia River from Castlegar South to Trail, and on demolitions at the Stoney Creek Range.”
Safety and environmental protection are serious considerations in all aspects of exercise planning and implementation, including an environmental impact assessment. In addition, members of several other units will provide medical, signals, and logistical support to enable the “sappers,” or Combat Engineers, to accomplish their physically and technically demanding tasks.
“Soldiers and leaders at all levels will certainly be challenged, especially during a day-long military skills competition that will include rafting on the mighty Columbia River, shooting at the Casino Rifle Range along with individual and group tasks in the Fort Sheppard area,” says Master Warrant Officer Sharman Thomas, 44 ES Sergeant-Major, and one of the exercise planners. “The majority of the personnel will be living in our Trail armoury compound, and moving to and from their tasks daily.”
Convoy and traffic movements will be coordinated with local RCMP detachments, and Public Service Announcements issued when warranted to advise the public about potential temporary delays.
As Reservists, most troops serve in the military in addition to their civilian employment and educational commitments. Many of the Canadian soldiers have taken part in international operations in Afghanistan and elsewhere while the US soldiers have deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq. Additionally, Reserve soldiers serve their communities through participation in domestic operations at home, such as support to the Province of BC during the 2003 forest fire season and to the RCMP for the security of the 2010 Vancouver Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.
Exercise KOOTENAY CASTOR 2012 continues a series of international Reserve Combat Engineer exercises, including Exercises KOOTENAY CASTLE held in 1992 and 2002.