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Exercise Highland Raider, 14-16 November 1998
Photos are thumbnailed, click to enlarge

Exercise Highland Raider was conducted in southern Alberta on the weekend of 14 to 16 November 1998, supported by elements of 746 Communications Squadron (a Calgary-based unit of the Communications Reserve), 14 (Calgary) Service Battalion, 15 Medical Company Detachment, and 408 Tactical Helicopter Squadron.

The Glen, the Regimental newsletter, described the exercise as follows, in an article penned by an anonymous correspondent:

The unit operations cel, after four months of wrangling with Brigade Headquarters and 408 Squadron, finally received word that helicopters would be available for training.  No mean feat, considering the weekend also happened to coincide with Grey Cup weekend.  The tasks were varied and designed to test the planning and command skills of unit personnel at all levels.

The unit had to deploy to Canadian Forces Base Suffield, Battalion Headquarters/Administration Company was responsible for Exercise control, control of B Echelon and sorting out which hotel the chopper crews stayed in.

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"A" Company (the Bad Guys) was to provide small detachments of mobile enemy scattered about the map.  This was to force "B" Company (the Good Guys), to produce a reconnaissance plan and execute recce patrols, and once the enemy main force was located, plan, mount, and carry out a Company attack.

"So let me get this, Sarge, we're going to Suffield, sleeping on the barren plains, and tomorrow we try to find 15 people, who are whipping around in Iltises, who just happen to be scattered over 250 square kilometres of bald (headed) prairie.  Then we make sure they stay in one place long enough for the rest of the Company to attack them, right?!"

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"You got it, hotshot! The Ops Warrant says we've got two of those new Griffin helicopters.  That should make the job a little easier."

"Sarge, there you go talking like a tree fell on your head!!  The only choppers we'll see will be the six-wheeled kind with a torn tarp!!"

"We'll see, young fella, we'll see."

The appearance of, and more importantly, the not immediate disappearance of two Griffin helicopters caused a bit of a stir.  When the troops went through the aircraft boarding and safety drills, there was still a reluctance to believe the Ex was actually happening.

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When the young corporals, who were acting section commanders, were conducting flight plan briefing with the pilots and being listened to, the thoughts became "maybe this is going to happen."  As the turbines wound up, and the patrol boarded, the first rush of adrenaline, which would turn into foot wide grins and unending "war" stories, started to kick in.   Another Highlander exercise, literally "off the ground," and proceeding as planned.

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Also on the exercise was a "videographer" from a newly created independent television station in Calgary; Lisa Saunders was escorted to the field by unit Public Affairs Officer Lieutenant Brian King, and several minutes of her footage was aired in a special segment on the A Channel News at the conclusion of the exercise.

Despite the absence of deep snow, the weather was cold enough for mukluks.

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