Urban Warfare -
24-26 September 2004
Calgary Highlanders Photos (2Lt
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.
|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.
||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.
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