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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Review: Ex. PROMETHEAN RAM

By: Claire Theobald, Edmonton Journal 

CFB Wainwright — The scenario is this: a Canadian military convoy carrying ammunition, fuel and food to combat units grinds to a halt after one of the trucks strikes a buried improvised explosive device.

Deep in enemy territory, force protection teams travelling in Light Armoured Vehicles take up defensive positions around the convoy, scanning the brush for combatants while others inspect the damage to the vehicle, ever watchful for secondary traps.

Suddenly, a soldier calls “Dismount from the hill” as an enemy target springs from cover.

It’s an ambush.

Canadian troops open fire, a light machine gunner pinning enemy targets under automatic gunfire while riflemen take aim, eliminating those they can and forcing others back from the convoy.

About 4,000 soldiers from across Western Canada are taking part in this operation, dubbed Promethean Ram, a month-long live-fire exercise at CFB Wainwright that is testing the readiness of Canadian troops for combat.

“We train hard to fight easy,” says Brig.-Gen. Trevor Cadieu, commander of 1 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group (1CMBG). “There is no easy fight overseas, but it is absolutely imperative that we conduct this sort of training so we can condition our soldiers to what they might face abroad.”
Soldiers of 1 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group (1 CMBG) take part in Exercise Promethean Ram, a live-fire training exercise held at CFB Wainwright, on April 21, 2016. GREG SOUTHAM
The complex, gruelling and dangerous training is a necessary part of the group’s “road to high readiness,” proving the troops are prepared to be deployed wherever the Canadian government sees fit.

“We have to show that we are competent, we are prepared and we are effective,” says Maj. Matthew Johns, with 1 CMGB out of CFB Edmonton.

After training day and night for a month, these soldiers will return to CFB Wainwright for combat training exercise Maple Resolve on May 18.
Soldiers of 1 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group (1 CMBG) take part in Exercise Promethean Ram, a live-fire training exercise held at CFB Wainwright, on April 21, 2016. GREG SOUTHAM
The combat groups will then be considered ready for deployment over the next year.

Promethean Ram’s “Level Five Combined Arms Attack” feels real — and the bullets peppering the landscape certainly are. Explosions demolish obstacles like trenches, razor wire and mine fields, throwing dirt and debris into the air while tanks roll over the terrain as infantry units hunt down and destroy enemy targets. In the distance, a CF-18 drops a 1,000-pound bomb, the resulting plume of smoke and dust visible for kilometres.

“Feeling fear is normal, in fact to a degree we think it is healthy. It heightens the senses, it focuses us,” says Cadieu, in charge of co-ordinating the units in the combined arms attack exercise. “Courage in the battle field is not about not feeling fear, it’s feeling it and then working through it.”

Exposing troops to life-like battle conditions prepares soldiers to take control without hesitation in crisis situations.

“Basic soldier skills are the fundamentals for our military. Once we hone those, soldiers have the confidence to use their gear, use their drills, defend themselves in a conflict situation. That is a fundamental of any operation they’ll take forward for any type of deployment,” says Maj. Peter Beitz, officer commanding the reconnaissance squadron with Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians).
Soldiers of 1 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group (1 CMBG) take part in Exercise Promethean Ram, a live-fire training exercise held at CFB Wainwright, on April 21, 2016. GREG SOUTHAM
Cadieu adds that Canada this year expects to send more troops to assist in a training mission with the Ukrainian military, deploy a group of 250 soldiers to eastern Europe as part of NATO reassurance measures and replenish operation IMPACT, supporting a multinational effort against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

Facts and figures About Promethean Ram:

• 250 soldiers involved in each Level Five Arms Attack simulation

• 15 tanks, including Leopard 2A4 and Leopard C2 main battle tanks, two Badger armed engineer vehicles and one Taurus armoured recovery vehicle

• 20 Light Armoured Vehicles including LAV IIIs, LAV 6s and Bisons

• Soldiers armed with C-7A2 automatic rifles and C-8 carbine automatic rifles

• Light machine gunners armed with C9A2 light machine guns and C6 medium machine guns

• Artillery using M777 howitzers

• A CF-18 dropped a 1,000-pound MK 83 bomb

• Combat engineers using Bangalore explosives to blast through obstacles, including razor wire and simulated mine field