Anti-government “belligerents” have destroyed Alberta bridges, prompting army reservists to consult with natives and other civilians to figure out the best river crossings.
That scenario was enacted as a training exercise last weekend in Central Alberta, as 35 army reservists from across the province and as far as from the Northwest Territories gathered in the Red Deer area to expand their skill-set as liaisons between the military and civilian communities.
“We are dealing with belligerents today,” said Lieut. Daphne ter Kuile, with the 41 Canadian Brigade Group of Calgary. “We’ll have to find out what the threats are along the way…”
A tense interaction played out between reservists and volunteers portraying ‘anti-government agitators’ on Saturday afternoon near Alford Lake, west of Caroline. The scene involved land mines, an ‘agitator’ wearing a vest rigged with explosives, and one casualty.
“Somebody (supposedly) gets hurt and they’ll have to evacuate the guy,” said ter Kuile. “They will be practising combat, first aid — things every soldier needs to be skilled at.”
The reservists were nearly outnumbered by local volunteers, who helped bring these situations to life by portraying the “bad guys,” including anti-government forces occupying Dickson Dam. First Nations volunteers on both sides of the Red Deer River passed on traditional knowledge about river crossing sites to the reservists and held a smudging ceremony Friday on private land.
Daphne ter Kuile’s husband, Captain Mike ter Kuile, who is also with the 41 Canadian Brigade Group from Calgary, said the camouflage-clad reservists were supported by Dickson Dam’s operators, as well as various military officials, civil authorities and community members.
The goal of the elaborate exercise was to practise basic information gathering, reporting and communications skills, which Mike ter Kuile said are needed for domestic and overseas missions.
Master Corp. Harv Jandu, of Calgary, has been a military police reservist for a decade, but has never participated in as complex a training session. “This is awesome,” said Jandu, who feels he learned a lot about building rapport, diffusing situations, and observing and recording information.
The reservists also took advantage of the gun range at the Red Deer armoury to practise shooting at simulated targets with service rifles fitted with lasers and sensors.