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The Three Block War Comes to Calgary
Photos and Article by Captain Chris Scott, "B" Company

Mayor Molotov Quimby of Springfieldja, Ventora, was reclining in a disused easy chair close to a fire when his sentry alerted him that NATO forces were close. He acknowledged the warning and went back to his brandy. There was time. "Very close," the sentry said. A burst of automatic fire came from a hidden bunker, and was immediately met by a huge volume of return fire from the NATO forces. Seconds later, brandy forgotten, Mayor Molotov Quimby was running for his life and freedom through the bare trees and bog surrounding Fournier House. Calgary.

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Mayor Molotov Quimby was chased down and arrested by Private Cody Martin and a Ventoran policeman known as Mirko - the alter ego of Sergeant Chris Tucker. The NATO forces were elements of 1 and 2 Platoons of A Company, The Calgary Highlanders, while Mayor Molotov Quimby’s erstwhile henchmen were drawn from 3 Platoon. Fournier House, a disused and rundown property in Bowmont Park formed the setting for a series of presence patrols, cordon and search operations, and arrests.

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The training, held over 16 and 17 October, was the second weekend of training A Company has undergone this fall focusing on urban operations. 25-26 September focused on FIBUA. This last weekend pushed the soldiers to use their judgment to contend with escalating scenarios. It also taught them to use their powers of observation and diplomacy to gain information from locals.

Together, both weekends demonstrate the unit’s focus this year on the Three Block War. A term coined to encapsulate high, mid, and low intensity conflicts within a small geographic area, the Three Block War might have troops battling it out on one ‘block,’ patrols conducting searches and arrests of belligerents on the next block, and other elements assisting with humanitarian aid on the third. Scenarios like this are becoming very common in a variety of operations around the world. Furthermore, the concentration of population into urban areas means our soldiers deploy frequently into cities and towns. Being able to operate in built up areas takes practice and skills that, if not maintained, fade quickly.

Many senior NCOs served in Croatia and Bosnia during the early and mid 1990s, and their experiences came through as the scenarios unfolded. When questioned about how the training compared to his experiences in Croatia in 1993, Sgt Kurtis Sanheim replied, "I thought it was excellent. When we did the same thing in Yugo, there were always a lot of [local] people just carrying weapons. Similar to the wild west. We all had weapons. It didn't always mean you were going to shoot. So the training we did this weekend was excellent. For example, at one point, a belligerent shot in the air and then got shot by our forces. That shouldn't have happened, but we had to learn...We don't do it [this type of training] enough, and only guys on tours do that stuff."

This type of training requires soldiers to be very alert and intelligent. When asked whether the troops were ready for this, Sgt Sanheim's answer was that "the guys in A Coy were ready for this. We need to start pushing them. Our junior leaders need to be challenged...the example is, if its over your head, its the best way to learn. Saturday we had some bad judgment calls, Sunday we did a lot better. That's the whole point of training."

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Calgary Highlanders prepare to storm the house; note the muzzle flash in the upper window.


The Calgary Highlanders junior leaders will be pushed once again in November, when Task Force South deploys over the 19th-21st to once again secure buildings in Calgary.

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