Canadian Army Reservists head to South Dakota for joint training
By Officer Cadet Natasha Tersigni, 38 Canadian Brigade Group Public Affairs
Rapid City, South Dakota — With positions on international military training exercises in short supply for Canadian Army Reservists, 59 members of 38 Canadian Brigade Group (38 CBG) jumped at the chance to attend Exercise GOLDEN COYOTE 2018 (Ex GC18).
Held in the Black Hills region of South Dakota from June 8 to 22, 2018, Ex GC18 was hosted by the South Dakota Army National Guard (SDANG) and included close to 2,100 military members. The exercise primarily targeted combat support and combat service support units and included several community and humanitarian aid projects that will benefit communities in South Dakota.
This year, 38 CBG, an Army Reserve brigade comprised of 13 units located across Saskatchewan, Manitoba and northwestern Ontario, formed Task Force 38 Headquarters, located at Custer State Park, South Dakota.
Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas Mykytiuk, Commanding Officer of the North Saskatchewan Regiment in Saskatoon, along with the unit’s Regimental Sergeant Major, Chief Warrant Officer Ramsay Bellisle, made up the Command Team for Ex GC18.
This training exercise was an excellent opportunity for 38 CBG to partner with the SDANG’s to carry out humanitarian missions, engineering projects and medical aid training. To do so, they implemented a Quick Reaction Force (QRF), which is a military unit capable of rapidly responding to developing situations, typically to assist Allied units in need of such assistance.
The Canadian contribution to Ex GC18 QRF was made up of infantry soldiers from the North Saskatchewan Regiment, Lake Superior Scottish Regiment and the Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders of Canada. The QRF members were paired up with American soldiers from the 190th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion and took part in three exercise missions.
To add realism to the training, there was an enemy force present, and paintball equipment was used by both the enemy force and the QRF to indicate casualties sustained throughout the operation by both sides.
For Canadians out on Ex GC18, access to this type of training in which they interact with American counterparts in a threat environment with an opposing force is highly valued, lending elements that are different from training back in Canada.
“The support we are getting from the South Dakota National Guard has been outstanding and has allowed us to really leverage our own training objectives. Working with the Americans, we get access to a lot of resources we normally wouldn’t see,” said LCol Mykytiuk who added that every Canadian soldier, including himself, is being exercised to a high level.
“For myself, I have resources that I don’t normally have access to and I am actually getting a chance to exercise command at this level which is hard to get back at the unit because you don’t have that critical mass. This is one of the very few opportunities I have to command at the battalion level; here I have close to 600 people under my command.”
Canadian engineers on the exercise were pleased to be able to take part in community improvement projects. Canadian Army Reservist Master Corporal Nicholas Mack of 38 Combat Engineer Regiment is the section commander for the engineers assisting the SDANG’s 821st Transportation Battalion with removing timber from Custer State Park.
Once loaded onto trucks, the timber was transported to Native American communities for their use. Engineers were tasked with cutting up the wood to make transport easier.
“It is part of the engineering skill set to work with chainsaws. For the exercise we are using them to de-limb and clean up the trees before they are transported,” said MCpl Mack.
“This is something that we would not have had the chance to do back at home, so it is great to be able to do this and work alongside the transport soldiers.”
Along with staffing the headquarters and proceeding an engineering section, Task Force 38 includes an infantry platoon taking part in the various training tasks that the exercise has to offer.
“The addition of the Quick Reaction Force was a really great opportunity for our infantry soldiers but also for the larger camp,” said LCol Mykytiuk who added it is of benefit to American units as well.
“Some of the larger National Guard units such as the medics are taking advantage of the fact that we have this dynamic operation capability. Normally they train on their own, but this way they have a combat arms experience and they can exercise with them.”
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