Army engineers tackle rough conditions during Exercise NIHILO SAPPER 2018

Combat Engineers from 4 Engineer Support Regiment’s 43 Counter Improvised Explosive Device Squadron
Combat Engineers from 4 Engineer Support Regiment’s 43 Counter Improvised Explosive Device Squadron search for explosive threats along transport routes during Exercise NIHILO SAPPER 2018 which took place in Prince Edward Island in November 2018. Photo: 5th Canadian Division Public Affairs

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By Captain Jamie Tobin, Public Affairs Officer, 5th Canadian Division

At this year’s Exercise NIHILO SAPPER, 4 Engineer Support Regiment (4 ESR) successfully opened a theatre and sustained operations in various locations across Prince Edward Island from October 25 to November 22.

By doing so, they proved once again that they are able to execute any theatre opening task that the Canadian Armed Forces requires, and they remain Strong, Proud, and Ready to execute their unique capability anywhere in the world.

Before any expeditionary mission can be conducted, the dedicated military engineers from 4 ESR, the Canadian Army’s only general support engineering unit, is the first to go in, eliminate threats, and build the operating infrastructure.

The troops participating in Ex NIHILO SAPPER 18 were challenged by torrential rains, gale force winds, an early season blizzard, and an extensive collection of community based engineering tasks that needed to be completed in tight timelines.

“Despite these challenges, our troops harnessed their soldier spirit and proved that they were Strong, Proud, and Ready to confirm our theatre opening capability,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Jason Gale, Commanding Officer of 4 ESR.

Image gallery

  • Combat Engineers from 4 Engineer Support Regiment’s 42 Horizontal Construction Squadron
  • Sapper Erik Bernard Memorial Trail
  • Construction Technicians from 4 Engineer Support Regiment’s 45 Vertical Construction Squadron
  • The main operating base for Exercise NIHILO SAPPER 2018 in Slemon Park

4 ESR was also Strong, Secure, and Engaged with communities across P.E.I., completing complex engineering tasks in support of community initiatives. They completed a facility renovation and built a 1,600 metre walking trail in the Abegweit Mi’kmaw Nation, constructed an elevated walkway and bridge at the Lennox Island First Nation, and completed an extensive renovation on the Boys and Girls Club of Summerside.

“The soldiers have actually taken time out to talk to our children and youth because we see what the Canadian Armed Forces has, what they are doing for our country and we are so appreciative,” said Adam Binkley, Executive Director of the Boys and Girls Club of Summerside.

On completion of the Abegweit Mi’kmaw Nation trail project, the walking route was named the Sapper Erik Bernard Memorial Trail in honour of a member of the regiment that passed away in a car accident in the fall of 2016.

“These troops came into the Abegweit Mi’kmaw Nation as strangers, and left as our friends with sincere intentions,” said Roddy Gould, a representative of the community leadership.

In addition to these community based initiatives, Ex NIHILO SAPPER 18 enabled 4 ESR to conduct valuable joint training with the Royal Canadian Air Force which provided air support with a CH-146 helicopter and a CC-130 Hercules, the Royal Canadian Navy which provided support with HMCS Queen Charlotte, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Ground Search and Rescue (GSAR) P.E.I and the Civilian Air Search and Rescue Association.

“We owe the success of Exercise NIHILO SAPPER to the outstanding support that we received from communities across P.E.I and the contributions that were made by our inter-agency partners. We wouldn’t have been able to do it without their help,” stated LCol Gale.

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