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Urban Warfare - 24-26 September 2004
Calgary Highlanders Photos (2Lt Mills)

In the 1980s, The Calgary Highlanders were equipped and trained to fight as a fully mechanized infantry unit, capable of operating in a full scale war in Western Europe against a similarly armed and equipped Warsaw Pact invasion force.   The collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe has seen the Canadian Army shift its attention to other types of training, even as operational tempos increase as conflicts of varying intensity continue to call for international response, often under the auspices of NATO or the United Nations.
General Charles Krulak, Commandant of the United States Marine Corps from 1995 to 1999 coined a phrase very much in vogue in military circles today: The "Three Block War."  The Calgary Highlanders are taking this concept to heart in the 2004-2005 training year. sep1.jpg (37333 bytes)
A Three Block War simply describes a scenario in which a full spectrum of operations might be found within the space of three city blocks, ranging from humanitarian aid, to peacekeeping and peace-enforcement, and finally to full-intensity combat or war-fighting.  These conditions often exist in areas the Canadian Army has been asked to deploy operational soldiers to since the terrorist attacks on the United States in September 2001.

The Regiment today no longer trains with armoured fighting vehicles and has instead embraced its new role of "light infantry."  Far from being simply soldiers without vehicles, The Calgary Highlanders have trained in many of the roles a true light infantry unit might be asked to perform in a Three Block War.   Recent years have seen the unit concentrating on helicopter operations, amphibious missions, and operating in hilly/mountainous terrain.   This year, the focus will include urban operations, with missions ranging from aid to the civil power to full-blown Close Quarter Battle against an armed enemy.

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sep3.jpg (45231 bytes) Below are photos taken on the weekend of 24-26 September in northeast Calgary, as "A" Company practices urban warfare drills.  The Canadian Army first experienced a large-scale urban operation in December 1943 during the famous battle of Ortona, in Italy. 

The Calgary Highlanders fought in a less well-known urban battle at Groningen in the spring of 1945, during the liberation of The Netherlands.  While weapons and techniques may have changed since then, the basics of urban warfare have not - small groups of men must rely on their initiative and their training in order to be successful, as companies and platoons necessarily break down into much smaller assault teams, often under the command of junior NCOs.  Teamwork and situational awareness are essential in these types of operations.

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