Soldiers of the local 44 Engineer Squadron conducted a four-day training exercise in the Trail area from Oct. 19-24 involving more than 50 participants.
Over the course of the exercise, Squadron members from across the Kootenays practiced a number of key military engineering skills. They were joined by other Canadian Army Reservists from the Lower Mainland who are part of their parent unit, 39 Combat Engineer Regiment.
Training included rock and concrete drilling using hydraulic and gas-powered drills, chainsaw training, heavy equipment operation, non-explosive demolition with expanding grout, and explosive demolition in rock, concrete, and timber.
The exercise concluded with a navigation course as well as day and night live fire weapons training at the Casino Range south of Trail. Some of the exercise participants joined the Army Reserve as recently as this past spring and completed basic training over the summer. These newer members found the exercise very rewarding.
The Squadron Commander, Major Nils French of Rossland, reported that the training was extremely worthwhile and noted that a number of the skills exercised over the weekend would be particularly useful for disaster response here in the region.
He commented that “the ability to work effectively with rock and timber is important in a mountainous, heavily forested area like the Kootenays.”
Soldiers also found it rewarding to put their Specialist Equipment Vehicles (SEVs) to work. The SEVs are 5-ton off-road trucks configured to carry nine personnel as well as an array of pumps, generators, power tools, first aid equipment, and supplies. The trucks are equipped with a heavy winch, an auger, and a full hydraulic tool system.
“The vehicle and its equipment allows a team of engineers to go almost anywhere, operate in a wide range of conditions, and conduct a broad array of different tasks,” said Warrant Officer Troy VanTassell, a 20-year Canadian Army veteran currently serving with the squadron.
Area residents may have heard some of the explosions from the blasting on Saturday, October 19.
“There was a dense cloud ceiling at an elevation that reflected sound back into nearby areas, Warfield in particular. The Squadron generally conducts explosives training no more than once a year, and it is only a couple times per decade that it coincides with a low, dense, cloud ceiling,” Major French noted.
44 Engineer Squadron has armouries in Trail and Cranbrook . They are currently accepting applications for part-time positions with guaranteed full-time summer employment for the first four years. More information is available at www.forces.ca or by calling the Squadron directly at 250-368-2129.