Combat engineers go above and beyond in Exercise MATAWA SAPPER

Three soldiers in crawling position in front of a military vehicle.
Members of 2 Combat Engineer Regiment clear a path to extricate a LAV III from a minefield during Ex MATAWA SAPPER, held November 10 to 20 at CFB Petawawa, Ont. Photo: Cpl Veldman, Garrison Petawawa

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Exercise MATAWA SAPPER, a 10-day Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) exercise that took place through November 10 to 20 in Petawawa, Ont., saw members of 2 Combat Engineer Regiment (2 CER) take on the elements and come out on top.

The exercise included CAF personnel and reservists from the 4th and 5th Canadian Divisions and the Combat Training Centre (CTC), and involved an exhaustive list of activities. It may have been busy, but it allowed participants to do proper engineering tasks.

“It was a realistic training scenario,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Jim Smith, 2 CER commander.

The activities involved breaching obstacles, creating minefields in and out of the water, and rescuing and destroying vehicles. The exercise was capped off with the construction of a 100-metre by 100-metre complex that will be used by Special Operations Forces units in future exercises.

In addition to making sure about 360 regular members of 2 CER knew their stuff, for the first time, two dozen phase-four CTC students were tested to see if they were up to snuff as combat engineer officers.

“By bringing them here to Petawawa, we were able to focus the whole effort of the regiment,” said LCol Smith. “There was a twofold benefit this year,” he added. “I had more troops, so the school was able to operate faster and reduce the length of their course. And because I have so many officers deployed all over Latvia, Ukraine, Kuwait, and Iraq, 24 officers who are students and another 10 coming in as staff filled out my ranks, and we were able to have a great training event.”

Everybody was given the chance to prove themselves on the ground, from the corporals who just finished their Primary Leadership Qualification courses to the reconnaissance sergeants who don’t always get to ply their trade.

It required a lot of patience and logistics to run the exercise, and was a success despite the countless 2 CER members deployed overseas, and another group that left for Kingston mid-exercise to deal with other real-world situations as they arose.

“The commandant and the commander of CTC were thrilled by the professionalism shown by the training that our soldiers put them through,” said LCol Smith. “They would love to repeat it. If the Army needs us to do it again, we’ll do that,” he added. “You can always count on the engineers to come through.”

Image gallery

  • Five soldiers installing barbed wire across a muddy creek.
  • Soldiers next to a steel bridge structure.
  • Four armed soldiers walking with a military vehicle in the woods.
  • Two soldiers wiring up explosives on a steel rail bridge.
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