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Urban Warfare - Exercise Black Bear 19-21 November 2004
Photos: Master Corporal Shawn McDonald, 41 Canadian Brigade Group
Article: Captain Chris Scott, Calgary Highlanders


Wielding borrowed C8 carbines, and sporting oil spattered flak jackets, soldiers from 41 Canadian Brigade Group took on a motley group of violent insurgents in the early hours of 21 November. With an H-Hour of 0600, the attack, by A Company of the Calgary Highlanders, was the culmination of Exercise Black Bear, staged within the Calgary city limits.

Task Force (South), the southern Alberta based units of 41 CBG, spent two days on the streets of Calgary, engaged in Vehicle Check Points, Patrols, Cordon and Search Operations, and a variety of smaller tasks for their Quick Reaction Force. The A Company based TF also included a troop from 33 Field Engineer Squadron., and an HQ/Admin Coy comprised of Signalers from 742 and 746 Communication Squadrons and soldiers from 6 Intelligence Company.

The platoon of the fictitious Ventoran Freedom Fighters Army and members of the equally fictitious criminal gang SLIVO was made up of junior soldiers short on training but high in enthusiasm drawn from B Company of the Highlanders as well as 18 Air Defence Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery. 15 Field Ambulance played both sides of the fence, providing support for both exercise play and real casualties, as well as participating as the Opposing Force (OPFOR).

The final raid saw a huge escalation of force, as soldiers from both NATO and Ventoran forces competed to outperform each other. What was supposed to be a raid on a machine shop-cum-drug factory turned into an assault on a custom-made death trap, with dummy Anti Tank and Anti personnel mines, booby traps, and well sited defenders taking their toll on the attackers.

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Photos (from top):

  • Lieutenant Heller evacuates a simulated Highlander casualty
  • Private Matt Sagastume (this soldier was incorrectly identified in The Calgary Sun as Private Shawn McDermott) and Private Blake Dunphy capture an enemy soldier; the Prisoner of War is actually Private Beck.  This photo was reproduced in the November 22 edition of the Calgary Sun
  • Private Matt Sagastume goes into the assault.  The C8 carbine is a shorter version of the C7 Assault Rifle; originally intended for dismounted vehicle crews, the C8 was extremely popular with troops of the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry on combat operations in Afghanistan and are especially useful in close-in environments such as built up areas as shown here
  • Not Falluja, Iraq but south Calgary - Number One Platoon of "A" Company on Exercise Black Bear

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