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Exercise MOUNTAIN GRIZZLY - Fort Lewis, Washington, 26 - 28 March 2004

as seen by Private Jeff Trudel, "A" Company

Article and photos by Private Jeff Trudel. Some photos are thumbnailed, click to enlarge

Exercise Mountain Grizzly consisted of about 600 Canadian Forces reservists from 41 Canadian Brigade Group, including soldiers from all combat arms and support trades including Infantry, Armour, Engineer, Artillery, Intelligence, Medical, Military Police etc.

We arrived at McChord AFB at about 2200 on Friday night and immediately went to ground to get some rest. We slept in an assembly area, which is pretty much a forest that had the trees removed. It was raining pretty steadily all through out the night. We didn't set up any sort of tents or biv site because we'd be moving out pretty fast in the morning and it wasn't very tactical since an artillery barrage could have wiped out an entire company.
photlewis2004a.jpg (118969 bytes)
Above is a picture of some of the guys in my section, 11 strong.  We are getting our MILES gear all set up. You can see the little black knobs on the webbing vest and the knobs on the field cap of the guy in the middle. These pick up laser beams emitted from the weapons when a shot is fired ,so you know when men would have been hit if live ammunition was being used. That was also the general area where we slept that night.
This is a picture of the Chinook helicopter that took A Company to the main camp. photlewis2004b.jpg (86311 bytes)
This is a picture of the camp my section, "support", was defending. We're support section because normally we're the C6 gunners. The C6 is the equivalent of the M60. It can be mounted on a bipod for a max range of 800m, tripod for fire up to 1800m or a vehicle. However, it was decided that support section would play the role of enemy force or "OPFOR" instead.  You can see the concertina wire around the camp that the engineers put up before we got there. photlewis2004c.jpg (135856 bytes)
The camp itself is basically for communications and intelligence. It was manned by 6th Intelligence Company out of Edmonton. Normally you would have a platoon defending this position with out posts and listening posts, however since we were just a section, our main task was to provide security and buy time so that when an attack came, the troops from 6 Intelligence Company were able to make last transmissions, and destroy all documents because realistically a section is not going to hold back a platoon or two of infantry so close in. In addition the infantry attacking would have air support and artillery as well as engineers and reserves for the attack.

We set up trenches around the wire in about 6 or 7 locations. Again, it  was impossible to cover all angles since we were so spread out, but we did a pretty good job. We had a contact post out by the trucks, in some bushes, so they could report if they saw any enemy and challenge those who wished to enter the base. We also had a roving sentry who also was tasked to spot any enemy. We were told that an attack would come from the front, (in the photo, the direction the trucks are facing) so that’s where we were looking the entire time. Our trenches were set up toward the front more than any other area of the camp.

As it turned out, all attacks came from the opposite direction. The first attack came at about 1600 on Saturday 27Mar. We spotted their recce (reconnaissance) patrol of 3 guys and the call went out out across the line to "STAND TO!!"  Everyone went to their trenches as quickly as possible.  Those not on contact point or sentry were eating or resting until their turn to go out.

Once we were in our respective trenches covering our arcs, GRITs were given to determine where the enemy is. GRIT stands for

Group: Which ever group you're talking to, be it a platoon, section, weapon, fireteam, individual, etc.

Range: How far the enemy is

Indication: where the enemy is, and,

Type: only the section commander gives this order, indicating type or rate of fire.

So a typical GRIT for us in Support Section would come out "Support, 100m, one fist left of center of arc! and at that point the section commander would indicate rate of fire (normal, slow, etc.)

It really got our adrenaline going.  We waited for about 15 minutes while the recce element went back and the full platoon came in for the attack.   It was easy to spot them since it was in the day time. The enemy was 3 Platoon of  "A" Company, attacking in force thirty strong. However, everyone was using C7 rifles, so there was no machine gun support which is the normal method of attack. The defence actually went really well, with our weapons accounting for every single enemy soldier but one.  We were able to critique their attack, and valuable lessons were learned by 3 Platoon.  My MILES gear did not go off during the attack, so I survived.

We then went back to patrolling the camp. It got dark at about 1930 and it was very difficult to see. In addition to that, we had a huge generator powering everything.  It was extremely noisy and we had no chance of hearing anything out in the forest.  Another attack came in at about 2230 and this time they had the advantage as we could neither see nor hear.  We had no idea they were there until the first shots went off. Then came the pyro. They used explosives to breach the wire around the camp and effectively chucked simulated grenades into our trenches. We were barely alive long enough to get a mag worth of rounds downrange. The entire battle lasted 5 minutes before we were all identified as casualties.

After that, we continued our patrols until 0530 in which it was time to basically pack everything up and head home.

This is a picture of the camp near where we stayed the first night, near the end of the exercise.  We’re basically returning all the MILES gear and getting our equipment together for the return to Canada.

photlewis2004e.jpg (95322 bytes)

For this exercise, we were given the old Garrison Dress Jackets so we could be identified as the Enemy Force.   (Webmaster's Note: Private Trudel is on the right of the photograph).  The MILES gear for the rifles are clearly visible on the end of the rifle barrels.
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