Heavy fire over Glamoc

Lt. Eric Bouysson
First published in
SFOR Informer#133, February 28, 2002

At the Glamoc firing range, the Canadian Battle Group conducted a major joint exercise Feb. 21 and 22. Infantrymen from the Royal 22nd Regiment, a French Canadian unit, trained to stop an armoured enemy with the support of artillery. A close air support flight was planned.

Glamoc - Quebec soldiers know what heavy fire is. A squadron of Tow launching armoured tracked vehicles is participating in the exercise. The eight American M-113 infantry combat vehicles have been retrofitted with a specific turret, which allows the tube-launched, optically tracked and wire-guided missile to be fired to a distance of 3,750 meters. They were already in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The crews came by plane, "to test our ability to send troops abroad swiftly," explains Cpt. Gélinas, squadron commander. In an attempt to overcome the bad weather and the subsequent low visibility, hot coals had been poured into the targets to allow the use of thermal imagery and sights. But on the ridge the fog was too thick - the crews were waiting for an order which did not come. The launch was eventually postponed. So was the close air support.
Support fire
Targets were about to fume. For real, they would have continued unheeded in the valley. There was very little time before they were blown up once again. 105-mm field howitzers had been firing since eight o'clock, about ten km from the place the enemy is to be stopped and destroyed. At 1600 hours, the muted sound of the launch of artillery shells and the detonation of one of their explosions on the nearby hilltop can be heard. After the destruction strike, an interdiction one: 81 mm mortars are used to funnel the targets to the place where the valley opens out. "We would not want our enemy to go up the hill and fire at us from concealed positions," explains Maj. Lavigne, battalion commander. 25-mm machine guns mounted on the Grizzly wheeled armoured fire tracer shells at the farthest targets. After hitting their targets, they fade out in a dark and cloudy sky. Dismounted squads start to shoot at targets from 150 to 600 metres away.
Suppressive fire
The available firepower is just as impressive. The Eryx short-range anti-tank missile is perfect for the distant, heavily armoured and possibly mobile targets. Within its range, 600 meters, it can destroy any main battle tank available, due to its tandem, double explosive warhead. Their fire strobes across the range, along with rounds from Carl Gustav 84-mm recoilless canons and M-72 rocket-propelled grenades. Small calibre weapons rattle onto targets representing dismounted troops. "Though I have shot two strips of ammo with my C9, I have not changed the barrel. It has not heated too much," indicates Cpl. Lechasseur. Lucky Lechasseur, he shot more than 400 rounds with his light 5.56mm machine gun. He adds, with a smile: "I have as much left for tonight." 150 metres away, the wrecked Jeep has got what it deserved. "I have shot my M-72 straight into it, the body of the car has been displaced by the blast; I have also shot five magazines with my C7, a Canadian version of the M16 assault rifle," rejoices Cpl. Therien. He adds: "Tonight and tomorrow, the show will go on." Cpl Trudau is not as lucky, he has not fired as planned his armour-piercing 0.50 bullets into the targets, 1,000 metres away, with his McMillan precision heavy rifle. He explains: "The barrel was not tightly attached to the breech, there was a risk." The rifle is fitted with a Leupold day and night sight with adjustable magnification, but Trudau says he prefers "leave it to the greatest magnification, no less than a twentyfold one."
As realistic as peacetime affords
Lavigne is satisfied with the exercise: "I just cannot afford overhead support fire, it is a peacetime constraint. Weapons are therefore more or less lined up. In a real situation, they would be echeloned, namely sharpshooters and mortars." Unaffected by the unfavourable weather conditions and peacetime constraints, the exercise goes smoothly at a good tempo. "It is rare and pleasant to see all the weapons firing together side by side," remarks Lechasseur.
There is no denying that such training has little to do with the Battle Group’s duties and the SFOR missions. In fact it reveals that peacekeeping operations are often a prominent part of the units' yearly assignments. During frequent and often long postings abroad, mainly consisting of guards and patrols, there is a need to conduct the normal framework training exercises.
Do the Vandoos master voodoo?
The tip of the day is you had better be on the same side as the Vandoos, motivated and well-equipped soldiers from Quebec. Warm-hearted and enthusiastic, the Quebecois honour their reputation as jovial people. ‘Vandoo’ is what the regiment number sounds like when it is pronounced in English. The Royal 22nd Regiment is an institution in Canada. Founded in 1914, the dawn of the First World War, it continues to enhance the reputation of Canadian armed forces with its allies.
During the WW II, Vandoos played a great part in the liberation of Europe. During the cold war era, one battalion was stationed in Germany. With the UNPROFOR (United Nations Protection Force), and later under NATO command, they have made every endeavour to obtain a cease-fire and reconcile the peoples of the Former Yugoslavia. More than 85 years of contribution to peace in Europe is a testimony of the commitment of Canada to the stability of the old continent. Out of Europe, the regiment has also been contributing to numerous UN-led peacekeeping missions: Korea, The Middle East, Cyprus, Haiti and East Timor. The regimental motto is "Je me souviens," I remember. Many people can remember having been given assistance by the Vandoos.

Related links:
Nations of SFOR: Canada
Training and Exercises

 

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Photos: PO Steve Wood

The newly fielded Grizzly: Vandoos are armoured infantry.


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Without accurate settings, the shells may fall short.


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Command guidance.


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105 mm, French made, Canadian servants.


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Ridges is where M-113s fire their long-range Tows from.