Teamwork in the world of combat engineers
December 12, 2019 - Defence Stories
Author: Captain Benjamin Boucher-Fassett, Resource Troop Commander, 55 Squadron, 5 Combat Engineer Regiment
More than 100 reservists from Quebec City, Montreal and Rouyn-Noranda participated in common training with 5 Combat Engineer Regiment (5 CER) in the training areas of Canadian Forces Base Valcartier as part of Exercise SAPEUR CAPACITÉ. The objective of the exercise was to apply specialized engineering skills while promoting cooperation and the sharing of knowledge between three combat engineer units from 2nd Canadian Division (2 Cdn Div): 5 CER, 34 CER, and 35 CER.
There have been few opportunities for large-scale joint training in recent years. However, the recent experiences of engineers from 2 Cdn Div during Operation LENTUS in 2017 and 2019 were a humble reminder of the importance of maintaining specialized skills, the benefit of collaboration between units and the importance of creating lasting ties in order to be able to carry out 2 Cdn Div’s expeditionary and domestic mandates.
In this two-week exercise, 5 CER focused on explosive ordnance disposal, search capabilities, Expedient Route Opening Capability (EROC), water purification, diving, assault boat manoeuvres, and conducting construction and heavy equipment projects in collaboration with the Real Property Operations Unit – Detachment Valcartier (RPOU Valcartier). The three units also combined their efforts on 26 and 27 October to practice explosives demolition and to build an ACROW bridge.
Thanks to a sustained effort by a troop of 24 engineers from 35 CER, and supported by heavy equipment operators from 5 CER, they successfully built a 12‑bay, 36.6‑m ACROW bridge with double-reinforced panels, with a greater bearing capacity than that of the Cadieux bridge. This bridge, a divisional asset, was the first to be built in its entirety in a number of years. Such a construction project was therefore a first for most of the engineers present, who quickly realized its scale. The construction exercise helped create significant ties between members of the regiments and confirmed a rarely used divisional capacity.
Meanwhile, 34 CER tasked itself with furthering its knowledge of demolition. At a range, the unit provided a squadron of 80 engineers, who cut and destroyed several wooden beams, cement blocks and pieces of steel using various attack techniques with explosives.
Through this exercise and a shared meal during a team-building activity held at 5 CER, the members of the three regiments took advantage of a great opportunity to share techniques and experiences. Although a concentration of this magnitude between engineering units of the Primary Reserve and the Regular Force had not been seen for a long time, Exercise SAPEUR CAPACITÉ will serve as an example and an engineer training platform for years to come.
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