Troops from the Kootenays were joined by reservists from the Lower Mainland. Submitted photo

Kootenay Army Reserve conducts winter training exercise

50 participants from the East and West Kootenay and Lower Mainland were in Trail on the weekend

More than 50 soldiers from the Kootenays mustered in Trail last week to take part in winter training exercises.

Troops were in town from Fernie, Cranbrook, Castlegar, Rossland and Trail.

Soldiers of the 44th Engineer Squadron, located in Shavers Bench, Trail, conducted a four-day training exercise in the area from Thursday, Feb. 20 to Monday, Feb. 24.

“Over the course of the exercise, squadron members from across the Kootenays practiced a number of key skills for winter operations,” said Major Nils French, Commander, 44 Engineer Squadron.

“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 the use of winter gear including arctic tents, snowmobiles, specialized toboggans for hauling equipment, and military issue cold weather clothing.

The exercise was the last step in granting the soldiers the Canadian Army Basic Winter Warfare qualification and included training in cold weather survival, camouflage and concealment, snow shelter construction, and navigation in winter conditions.

The soldiers, who live and work in the Kootenays and serve part-time in the Canadian Armed Forces, also conducted a live-fire weapons range and demolitions training with satchel charges of plastic explosives.

“Several of the exercise participants joined the Army Reserve as recently as this past spring and completed basic training over the summer as part of the army’s full-time summer employment program,” said French. “These newer members found the exercise extremely valuable.”

French resides in Rossland, and noted that winter warfare is a core skill for the Canadian Army and the ability to operate in winter conditions is of particular importance in the Kootenays.

Throughout the exercise the squadron used their fleet of Specialist Equipment Vehicles (SEVs).

“The SEVs are 5-ton off-road trucks configured to carry nine soldiers as well as a wide array of equipment,” he explained. “Several members of the squadron had completed air brake and Class 3 driver training earlier in the year and were able to put their new skills to work during the exercise.”

About the armoury:

The 44th 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.

For more information visit, or call the Squadron directly at 250.368.2129.

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