Army runs winter training in Calabogie

Soldiers with ice climbing equipment next to an ice wall.
With its numerous hills, wooded areas and snow, Calabogie was the perfect area for winter training. For two weeks in January, the soldiers of 3rd Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment (3 RCR) set up a Winter Complex Terrain Training School to test their mettle. Photo: Patricia Leboeuf, Petawawa Post

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By Patricia Leboeuf, Petawawa Post

Three hundred members of the 3rd Battalion, the Royal Canadian Regiment (3 RCR) set up camp in Calabogie, Ont. for two weeks in January, training for different scenarios and preparing to survive in winter conditions.

Members exercised skills from basic winter survival and snowmobile skills to skiing down and climbing up the Calabogie Peaks. The unit also organized high angle shooting – a speciality skill for snipers.

The winter training targeted potential missions in the Arctic and other similar regions. “The Arctic is key not only to the Government of Canada but really for the world,” said 3 RCR Acting Commanding Officer Major Tim Kenney. “As the climate adjusts, the Northwest Passage will become more traversable and we will see more activity in the Arctic.”

In fact, 3 RCR’s Mike Company will soon be deploying to the high Arctic on an exercise that will simulate response to a major air disaster.

“This is all part of that progressive training,” said Maj Kenney. “It contributes to the readiness of the Canadian Forces being able to respond to any requirement that the Government of Canada might have.”

Calabogie was an ideal location to train due to its differing terrain. It allowed personnel to practice some of their less practised skills while pushing the battalion’s organizational limits.

“When we transport ourselves out of (Garrison Petawawa) it tests not only our ability to plan but also to sustain ourselves on exercise and on operations,” said Maj Kenney.

One of the most daring feats was scaling a vertical column of ice. In Calabogie, ice walls are formed through the freezing of water sources into near-perfect walls.

“A lot of our members have fears of heights and of trusting equipment that they’ve never used before,” said Sergeant Kyle Meeks, who has been ice climbing for work and pleasure for nearly a decade. “This helps them get over their fears,” he added.

“’You never know what will come up as far as the terrain you have to conquer,” said Corporal Jeremy Hillson. “Being able to climb an ice face is just as important as being able to walk long distances with a rucksack.”

Though it was a perfect opportunity to refine winter survival and warfare skills, it also gave members the chance to interact with the local community. Forty-three students from St. Joseph’s Separate School enjoyed a special treat with a hands-on display of equipment and vehicles.

“This is fantastic,” said Principal Heidi Fraser. “It is a great experience. The kids had a great time. They got to see key pieces of military equipment, which is not something that we see on a daily basis.”

“I think it is important that we are all aware that (the military) has a role to play as that might be an occupation the kids might be interested in,” she added.

Image gallery

  • Soldiers show military imaging equipment to kids.
  • A soldier climbs up an ice face.
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