Trooper Mackenzie Smillie and Trooper Darnai Sukonthapanich quietly install the Aerial Head Assembly onto the surveillance gear used by The Royal Canadian Dragoons (RCD) at the edge of a treeline. They painstakingly ensure that all the components are assembled properly and that the equipment is sufficiently camouflaged from enemy detection. They walk 200m back to their Coyote, the go-to Armoured Fighting Vehicle of The RCD, and fire up the system. The young men begin surveying their assigned arcs through the Operator’s Control Station. Dark sets in as they observe a thermal signature of four enemy vehicles on their screen travelling east to west more than 2000m away. They alert the patrol commander immediately who passes this information to higher. Just another night for reconnaissance soldiers.

These young troopers arrived at The RCD with a driver course under their belt and some basic field skills. As is the norm in The Royal Canadian Armoured Corps, soldiers are expected to hold multiple qualifications to maximize their employability when it comes to field training and deployments. The 15 day Surveillance Operator course affords the opportunity for new armoured soldiers to obtain such training. Students begin with theory of surveillance, the equipment they’ll be using and before the first day ends, get their hands on the gear. Throughout, students are tested formally and informally on their knowledge of the equipment, specifications, limitations and assembly.

The 2016 serial offered by B Squadron of The Royal Canadian Dragoons was taught by Sergeant Dolmovic, Master Corporal Delov, and Master Corporal Rafuse. Fortunately for the students, their instructors have significant field experience with the surveillance gear and operational experience obtained in Afghanistan. The training culminates with time in the field during the day and night to include setup of the surveillance gear in all its configurations, tracking targets and reporting. This skill is vital to reconnaissance operations as the work put in by even the lowest ranking soldier can change the tide of operations.
Coyote Surveillance Operator Course
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