Wednesday, January 14, 2015 04:20

Welcome to 2RCHA

This website has been designed to provide information on the Regiment’s history, recent events and current taskings. 2 RCHA was formed on 7 August, 1950 as the Artillery Component of the Canadian Army Special Force for United Nations service in Korea. Since then, 2 RCHA has operated and trained across the world and across the spectrum of operations including humanitarian relief in Turkey, Honduras, Haiti, and Pakistan, peacekeeping in Cyprus and Bosnia and war fighting in Korea and Afghanistan.

This website also has information on our current operations, training and social events as well as important contacts. On behalf of the Regiment, Welcome to the 2 RHCA website. Ubique!

 
 
 

Gunners Take to the Skies

  

The flight of an M777 Howitzer on Tuesday September 23rd marked a new relationship between the Gunners of the 2nd Regiment Royal Canadian Horse Artillery (2 RCHA) and aircrew from 450 Tactical Helicopter Squadron (450 THS). Exercise Viking Gunner afforded the Gunners of D Battery, 2 RCHA the opportunity to conduct aircraft familiarization with 450 Squadron's CH-147 Chinook helicopter. It also allowed the aircrew the chance to lift the 10 ton M777 Howitzer and practice flying with such a payload.

 

The Gunners of D Battery are no stranger to airmobile operations. During Exercise Maple Resolve this past spring at the Canadian Manoeuvre Training Centre in Wainwright, Alberta, the guns of D Battery were the first guns to be lifted on Canadian soil by Chinook helicopters. These Chinooks belonged to the 2nd Batallion,135th Aviation Regiment of the Colorado Army National Guard. To prepare, D Battery Gunners worked hard to master the art of quickly and safely rigging their howitzers to be lifted, a skill which put them in good standing when it came time to work with 450 THS.

The real test for these two units came during Exercise Collaborative Spirit, which ran from September 29th to October 1st. This exercise was a demonstration of the capabilities of the Canadian Army, which was hosted by 2nd Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group (2 CMBG) for industry leaders and military VIPs. The pinnacle of each day's events was most assuredly a demonstration of an air assault.  This involved two infantry platoons from the Dukes Company, 1st Battalion Royal Canadian Regiment (1 RCR) capturing an enemy position and securing the immediate area to allow for two M777 Howitzers to be flow in.

 

During the air assault Gunners from D Battery, 2 RCHA were put to the test  as they were required to rapidly prepare their howitzers for action following an airmobile insertion by 450 THS. While each air assault during the three days of Exercise Collaborative Spirit was successful, every iteration provided additional learning points for both the Gunners and the air crew. The training provided by 450 THS was exceptional and ongoing cooperation between the Gunners of 2 RCHA and Air Crew from 450 THS will further solidify the friendship between the two units and without a doubt prepare them for any future deployments.

The Journey of a Thousand Kilometres

On September 11th and 12th 2013, the Officers and NCMs of 2 CMBG participated in the 30th annual Ironman Competition. The day began as a day like many others in the military; at a ridiculous hour in pitch blackness, with a 40 lb ruck on your back and the certain promise of pain. This article will explore the personal motivations for volunteering for this arduous task, for as we all asked ourselves that day, as all Ironmen do – Why did I do this to myself?

 

My experience with the Ironman began in the summer of 2011, and this is my third competition. I initially had no desire to take part in this event and most likely would not have attempted it if not for the (strong) encouragement of my then-BC Maj Paul Williams. Not really knowing what to expect I did no preparation and completed the Ironman in 10 hours and 15 minutes.  For my trouble, I was treated to three days of back-wrenching, zombie-shuffling torment in the wake of what I thought would be an easy go. This first Ironman taught me the importance of training and I did not make the same mistake next year.

 

In 2012 I learned from this mistake and followed a strict training regimen of longer and longer rucks with plenty of time reserved for canoeing and the rowing machine. I was tasked to Gagetown for the duration of most of the summer and competed in the 2012 CFB Gagetown Bushman (roughly a half-Ironman) with Capt James Neeley as part of my training. I managed to improve my Ironman time to 9 hours and 12 minutes and was out of commission for about a day afterwards.

 

As I set out on the morning of Sept 11th I went forth backed by a similar training plan. What struck me this year along my journey was the presence of the repeat completers. In 2011 I completed the Ironman with Gnr Meuret of F Bty, having stuck with him the whole race. I remember that I had to help him jerry-rig the yoke of his canoe with twigs and left-over guntape along the way. This year he had been training hard and completed the Ironman for the first time since that first day after recovering from a major injury. Along the way I passed and was passed by Gnr Moon a total of eight times, re-enacting the Ironman grudge match we firmly established in 2012, only this year HE got the better time. As the race ended, I told him that I’d see him again next year and we both laughed. I came in at 8:50, not as fast as I would have liked, but still better than the year before.

 

The crowds cheered everyone as the day went on, but I noticed something interesting. The longer it took somebody to finish the Ironman, the louder the cheers became. When the final completers came in at 10, 11, even 12 hours, the large crowd gathered included not just the people there at the beginning of the day, but nearly all of those who had just completed the race. As day went on people ran, jogged, walked and hobbled across the line all to a massive crowd screaming encouragement.

 

I plan to do the Ironman in 2014 for the same reason I see on the same faces out there year after year. For most of us who do this race, it’s not about winning. It’s about pushing the limits and challenging yourself. Proving that you are up to the task. It’s about digging deep and getting the task done no matter how long or difficult it may seem. For those I see year after year, I hope to see you again out there. For those considering the Ironman in 2014, I look forward to passing or being passed by you while encumbered by 100 lbs of ruck and canoe, while both cursing our very existence through a haze of pain and muscle cramps. Why? Do it once and find out.

 

Written by: Capt M.D. Becker

19 September 2013

Ex Spartan Bear II

 

BBAAAAAARRRRMMMM…Hello.  This is your Captain speaking.  You will receive one free boarding pass for an all-inclusive road move to Meaford, Ontario if you stay on the line until the end of this message.  We’ve all had that call, more than likely 100 times.  The normally electronic drone of “Your Captain’s” voice was replaced with that of then Captain, now Major Sykora, but nevertheless, this is what I heard when I was tasked to Ex Spartan Bear II.  With the Officers and Senior NCOs of 2 RCHA firmly entrenched in a stack of PERs a mile high, the opportunity to spend time away from the office was paramount to winning a tropical vacation.

            My tropical Meaford vacation would include all of the same elements of any cruise.  Included in the ticket was the pleasure craft (civvie bus), expensive food (Navarin, dinner #10), and of course it was all you can drink (from your local water buffalo).  Notables not included in the 10 day stay were a) your DWAN e-mail account and b) your PERs.  The bus was leaving on 8 May and I was looking forward to it.

            HQ Bty was part of the main body to move down to Meaford on the morning of 8 May; the first packet departed the Z lines at 0500 hrs.  A Regimental road move presents a multitude of challenges and many man hours go into the preparation and planning of such a move.  Considering the challenges involved, the road move to, and later back from, Meaford ran quite smoothly.  On the way to Meaford the Regiment had 10 breakdowns including mechanical issues with a differential plug, trailer wheel bearings, an HLVW transmission, and brakes on one of the howitzers.  Regimental Transport described the move as being good experience for drivers, crew and technicians.  The last packet arrived in Meaford at 0245hrs on 9 May, hungry and tired.

            No live fire was to be done on Ex Spartan Bear II so the main focus was put on the local defense of the battery’s positions.  2 RCHA received great support from Engineers throughout the exercise.  When arriving on either of the gun battery’s positions one could see how important this was as an elaborate system of trenches had been dug to help conceal and protect the M777s and command vehicles.  It should be noted that despite the Engineer support, the troops and command teams from each battery spent countless hours digging personal trenches, laying concertina wire, applying further concealment through using cam nets and working long periods of time in hot weather to increase the defensibility of their positions.

Digging In

(Above: Soldiers dig in their gun positions)

            The first few days of the exercise saw a number of recce and deployments of the guns, but the last two days were almost solely dedicated to defensive upgrades and the upcoming enemy attack.  BHQ D Battery commented that “the length of time devoted to the last position gave time to demonstrate more properly upgraded OPs and LPs.”  Observation Posts and Listening Posts are integral pieces of the local defense puzzle as when these positions are properly sighted they can give ample forewarning of enemy movement within the battery’s area of operation.

            What would a military exercise be without its “Points to Sustain” and “Points to Improve”?  Of course there were many from Ex Spartan Bear II; that is what training is about, applying lessons learned, learning from mistakes and building on successes.  This exercise’s “lesson learned” is on proper challenges at check points.  It should be noted that when challenging using the password the proper challenge is “Tango Tango,” with a reply of “India India” (based on a password of TIGER).  Flabbergasted would be a good way to describe BC F, Major Williams’s expression as he recounted his story of arriving at a check point one night to a challenge of, “Are you the enemy?” to which he replied, “No,” and was then allowed to pass.  However, much progress was made throughout EX Spartan Bear II and a great point to sustain came from Brigade Commander Col Hetherington.  At a recent 2RCHA Officer’s function Col Hetherington described the defences of E Bty as “the best defense of a gun position that I have ever seen.”  Finally, if you are wondering what happened when the enemy did show up, let me assure you that they were soundly defeated.  During a Regimental parade after Spartan Bear II, 2 RCHA Commanding Officer LCol Ivey expressed his pride in what the Regiment had accomplished and described what happened behind the scenes with the enemy.  The enemy had been attempting to recce D Battery’s position to ascertain whether there were holes in their defense or areas that they could exploit, but the well placed outer defenses made it impossible for the enemy to gets good eyes on.  This forced the enemy to attack E Battery who could be seen but had also established an outstanding placement of weapons and all around sound defensive tactics.  The enemy did not stand a chance as they were quickly and decisively defeated.  The Guns, one of the most important and impacting Brigade assets were safe.

Lt Wilson, WO Reid and Gnr Graham

(Above: Lt Wilson, WO Reid and Gnr Graham in their defensive position)

            Ex Spartan Bear II served as a great way for the Regiment to display exactly what we can do.  With the speed at which today’s dynamic battlefields move and change, the notion of the Artillery being in the rear guard has become a thing of the past.  Modern Artillery gun positions need to be prepared at all times to provide a strong and effective defence against a highly mobile and capable enemy.  This makes an exercise like this one of utmost importance as the Guns need to be able to not only provide indirect fire support but also be able to properly defend their position in the likelihood of an enemy attack.

Written by:

Lt W.J. Malone

Asst Adjt

2 RCHA

 

 

M777 at Ex Spartan Bear II