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ARMED FORCES

 

 

ROAD TO READINESS

Westies run through their training paces

New Westminster Regiment 39th Battalion stopped for a photo Saturday.

 

STAFF—VOICE PHOTOS

PUBLISHED FRIDAY—APRIL—19

 

here were no Men in Black waiting for us under a cloudy sky Saturday but there was an unmarked black army ops van there to take a handful of local employers to the training base in order to give them insights about how and why a Royal Westminster Regiment (Westie) reserve unit troops need to be called to duty and to give civilians a chance to see the way they operated and how handheld ordinance worked.

We were driven up a long Forest Service Road riddled with deep potholes. I couldn't help but think the potholes weren't fixed for a reason.

 

An armed troop is shown how to use a

squib (grenade).
 

I didn't pay attention to where we went. It didn't matter. No one would have been able to negotiate the impregnable wall of fencing and barbed wire. Civilians aren't allowed to be on the mockup village base without an escort.
 

A busload of reservists from the Royal Westminster Regiment 39th Brigade Headquarters in New Westminster arrived before us for their day of exercises.


It's a tough on the battlefield for troops. No running water or flush toilets. Individual Meal Packs "IMPs" designed to be eaten while walking. Some of the guys put them in their pockets to heat them up a bit before eating them.
 

Royal Westminster Regiment Lieutenant-Colonel Chuck MacKinnon stands in front of protective blocks. Below, a happy Westie.


Troops are run through basic training exercises in anticipation of heavy ground warfare but there's nothing that can prepare a troop for the real battlefield. Militia armed to the teeth with Chinese-made guns and ordinance. Fighting is clean, as in under the UN Convention no hollow point bullets. Everybody takes Fridays off while Taliban pray.

 


"There are 17 full time Westie reservists backed by about 450 in BC," Royal Westminster Regiment Lieutenant-Colonel Chuck MacKinnon told The Voice. "Canadian troops typically deploy to hot spots such as Latvia, Ukraine, Jordon, Iraq and other places around those areas."
 

Individual Meal Packs (IMPs).

 

 

 

 

Soldiers have choices of IMPs. Here are the usual contents. The small white dot on the middle right side expands to a hand-wipe when water is added.


MacKinnon, who has served 41 years in the CAF, said there are 2500 Canadian troops currently serving in Afghanistan. He can speak some Pashto, the main language used in Afghanistan, which helps immensely when working with locals.

 

The chances reservists will see combat is slim though.


Typically, Westies are trained at the camp to be called to action in domestic emergencies such as floods or fires.
 

A squib (grenade).


"The Red River in Manitoba tends to flood in the spring and we were working in the areas affected by the fires in BC last year," says MacKinnon.

 

In order for visitors to get a chance check out the C6 General Purpose Machine Guns using blank 7.62 mm (308 calibre) rounds they got flat out on the ground.


A civilian is instructed on how to shoot C6 General Purpose Machine Guns using blank 7.62 mm (308 calibre) with blank rounds. Above, a squib.


Visitors engaged in Close Engagement Ammunition Simulation Systems with pyrotechnics. One of the ordinance items was the early warning para-flare trip line that are very bright for night action in order to see where the enemy is. They're strong enough to melt steel. These para-flares are tight and sensitive and set up around perimeters where troops are to detect an ambush.

 

A spent General Purpose machine gun blank.

Another thing visitors saw were the purple smoke grenades for protection and sometimes used to signal helicopters. They put out a heavy sulfur smell and in order to control their use some grass is thrown into the air to see which way the wind is blowing first before they're used.

There were demos of hand grenades called "squibs" which have a large kill zone radius.

"Once you pull the pin on the squib, there's just 7 seconds before it explodes," said MacKinnon.


Purple smoke grenades help for cover and signaling helicopters.


Also on that day, troops were put through their paces inside a mock-up of shooting targets and of rooms they needed to clear of enemy. Some of the targets were used in WW2.

 

Troops aren't permitted to use cell phones in skirmish areas because they can be hacked in order to determine their location. Sometimes drones are used to see what the enemy is doing.


Early warning para-flare trip line that are very bright for night action in order to see where the enemy is and avoid ambushes.


Generally CAF enlists people from 18-30 and Indigenous people through its Bold Eagle that offer various training programs.
 

Troops are trained to shoot on targets and clear buildings room to room.


Sappers, the CAF engineers who build bridges, and other units also use the base to train.

Interested in enlisting? Start by following this link here.

 

Some of the targets were used in WW2.

 

Civilians hold machine guns at the base Saturday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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