Exercise SABOT DRAGOON 2018
Lieutenant J.G.F. Boudreau, 13 Troop Leader A Squadron
The Royal Canadian Dragoons took part in Exercise SABOT DRAGOON 2018 from 3-7 December 2018 in Petawawa. Exercise SABOT DRAGOON involved A and D Squadron, augmented by Headquarters Squadron’s logistical, maintenance, weapons and communications support. The aim of the exercise was to increase our operational readiness at the patrol level with the move-shoot-communicate abilities being evaluated in a live fire context.
Despite Exercise SABOT DRAGOON occurring in December, training for the exercise really began during Ex CHARGING DRAGOON, with patrol commanders honing their skills and perfecting Standard Operating Procedures in a training environment without live ammunition. This proved helpful, as patrols and troops gained the experience working together; evident in the teamwork, co-operation and overall mission success seen throughout Ex SABOT DRAGOON.
Over the course of the week, A and D Squadron conducted several live-fire shoots to progressively increase their competencies on their individual vehicle platforms. All of the training took place at Juliette Tower, a place known well by many a Dragoon. The view from the top of the tower allows exceptional sighting and targets up to 2000 metres from both static and moving positions. The shoots included a Level 1 (individual vehicle) static day and night shoot, as well as a battle runs day and night. This was followed by Level 2 (patrol level) static day and night shoots, as well as day and night battle runs.
D Squadron, 60 Troop, was first in the breach from 3-4 December 2018, compromised of all Tactical Armoured Patrol Vehicles (TAPV). Despite many in 60 Troop still learning the capabilities of the TAPV, it was clear that 60 Troop took the lessons learned from the previous exercises, as they successfully finished in record time, which left no room for error and gave A Squadron a high benchmark to match.
From 5-6 December 2018 A Squadron was in the breach. Not only were they challenged with trying to exceed 60 Troop for bragging rights within The Regiment, they had the added challenge of sharing Juliette tower with 1 Royal Canadian Regiment and B Squadron of The Royal Canadian Dragoons, who were both running simultaneous separate gunnery courses. As a result, A Squadron had to really remain flexible and create a timetable that would allow for everyone to shoot and achieve maximum training. In spite of the challenges, A Squadron made it seem easy and successfully conducted their shoots, displaying a fine show of how an Armoured Squadron can adapt to an ever changing battlefield while maintaining momentum.
In addition to the challenges that had to be overcome, this was quite a memorable exercise as both the Coyote and TAPV platforms were used as patrolling partners for battle runs. While the Coyote has been a dependable vehicle platform for The Regiment for over 25 years, the TAPV was able to keep pace and even outperform in many aspects with its improved optical system. The end result was having the 25mm Bushmaster chain gun chewing up targets in its typical loud and fearsome fashion, while the Remote Weapon System’s 40mm grenade launcher created an impressive night firing display for all involved with the range.
At the end of the day on the 7th of December, the range wrapped up and marked the final exercise concluded before Christmas Leave. The end result was gunners, crew commanders and patrol commanders all successfully passing their required training without issue. This bodes well for The Regiment in the spring training season, as all soldiers and officers involved not only increased and honed their capabilities and skillsets, but The Regiment was also able to showcase its varying capabilities on the range. Initial trepidation to the TAPV has quickly been quelled by its performance both on the range and in previous exercises. While the ever dependable Coyote is being transitioned out of The Regiment, the future remains bright with the TAPV taking its place.