If you were in the Branch or North Harbour areas of the Avalon Peninsula in Newfoundland on Thanksgiving weekend, you might have noticed some uncommon visitors to the area.
More than 170 soldiers from 37 Canadian Brigade Group and their equipment moved into the area on Friday, Oct. 5 to conduct Exercise Scorpion Thrust. Training in the area until late morning on Monday, Oct. 8, the soldiers from varied units practised domestic operations in their role as a Domestic Response Company Group for the Newfoundland and Labrador region.
First Battalion, the Royal Newfoundland Regiment (1 RNFLDR) ranged along more than 30 kilometres of land, clearing and pushing back soldiers role-playing as opposing combatants. Thirty-five Field Ambulance supported the exercise with 13 medics, many of them embedded directly into the combat units. Thirty-seven Signal Regiment supported all communications, setting up Remote Radio Broadcast trucks, local citizens may have seen from the road.
“The exercise has been going very, very well. Our objective was to demonstrate the interoperability for domestic operations and the capability of the Domestic Response Company Group when deployed out. This scenario allows each unit to get an understanding of the capabilities of the other units they are working with. It allows them to focus on their battle task standards,” said Major Michael Bennett. “For example, 37 Service Battalion has been providing real time support to the combat arms, allowing their soldiers to focus on their own priorities. It is an exercise of tremendous value.”
On Saturday afternoon, 1 RNFLDR hosted a memorial ceremony open to the community at the Branch War Memorial. Attended by many citizens, the ceremony included the laying of a memorial wreath by Commanding Officer of the unit Lieutenant-Colonel Andrew Heale and Regimental Sergeant Major, Chief Warrant Officer Wayne Allen; playing of The Last Post by Corporal Stephanie Fury, a bugler; a moment of silence; and memorial readings.
“It's very exciting. Canadians defend the country and human rights overseas, and seeing the soldiers and their equipment here makes it real for the citizens of Branch,” said Branch Mayor Priscilla Corcoran Mooney. “Branch sent a very large percentage of soldiers per capita during the Second World War and so we feel a strong connection to that history and to the modern Canadian Army.”
37 Combat Engineer Regiment brought their assault boats (inflatable crafts outfitted with outboard motors that can carry up to 12 soldiers) and on Sunday afternoon practised beach landing drills while the members of the community looked on.
“It was nice to see the boats working together,” said Private Will Snow, who had not been on the boats before. “I really enjoyed the drills.”
Exercise Scorpion Thrust is an annual exercise that aims to bring together all 37 Canadian Brigade Group Newfoundland and Labrador Units under the Domestic Response Company N.L. This organization structure allows the conduct of a joint operational ex which enables units to learn within a tactical scenario and creates a realistic and challenging training environment.