ARCHIVED - Exercise END TRAILS - 6 Intelligence Company

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Article / June 3, 2015

By Cpl Anya Kreynes

On May 16th 2015, 6th Intelligence Company organized its second annual Exercise END TRAILS, an orienteering competition held in Squamish, British Columbia. The exercise involved members of the 6 Intelligence Company, as well as teams from other units from the lower mainland of BC.

The exercise was a competition, where teams of three to four members had to navigate their way through 16.5km of harsh, backcountry terrain of Squamish BC, in a test of fitness, endurance, teamwork and intelligence trade craft. The exercise was based on elements of the German Army Recce competition, the Boeselager Cup, while integrating key components of traditional intelligence exercise.

The contestants had to navigate their way through a network of trails using map and compass, as well as trail markers with NATO map symbols, and go through a series of checkpoints, while collecting information on enemy activity in the area, before making their way to the extraction point. The mission was to assess the enemy situation, based on presence of equipment and troops (found on cards throughout the course), and to deliver a brief, identifying location of enemy personnel and equipment as well as assessing possible courses of action.

As the race began, teams were dropped off at the trailhead 5 minutes apart, with a compass and a tiny map segment leading up to the first checkpoint. Upon entering the trail contestants were instantly faced with steep terrain and thick woods, with narrow winding trails which criss-crossed and split in many directions throughout the course.

Each checkpoint was a chance to catch your breath while putting your mind to work. Designated team members had to solve an equipment recognition test while the others obtained the information necessary for the next leg of the race.

The last checkpoint revealed the final piece of the puzzle required to determine the location of the extraction point; obtaining this clue required that contestants carry a full Jerry can of water up a hill, pour out its contents at the top to find the clue inside.  As teams made their way up the steep and sandy hill, they had to power through the exhaustion for a last test of mental stamina needed to decipher the code leading to the finish line, located in the private residence of one of the organizing staff members, who kindly volunteered their backyard to be our extraction point, located only a short leg away from the last checkpoint.

Every challenge along the way required a great deal of team cohesion and coordination, putting individual skills to work for the successful completion of the mission.

After catching our breath and cooling down, we got to work; we had 15 minutes to compile our information, map out the enemy positions and deliver a brief to the commander. As other teams came in and prepared their briefs, the exercise drew to an end. The evening ended at the local legion.

The exercise brought in members of 6th intelligence company 4, 5, and 6 platoons, from Vancouver, Winnipeg and Edmonton. Other units included 39 Signal Regiment, 12 Field Ambulance (Vancouver), 15th Field Artillery and the Seaforth Highlanders of Canada, with a total of 8 participating teams.

Exceptionally, new recruits were welcome to participate on the same level as trained soldiers, which gave them a great introduction into army life. The winning team was announced after dinner, they were the “Racks and Sacks” from 4 platoon of 6th intelligence company. Team members included Corporal Devin Ramos, Master Corporal Naz Hadavand-Morzaie, Private Brian Spencer and Corporal Anna Kreynes.

Special thanks goes out to Warrant Officer Russell Robertson the 4 platoon, 6th Intelligence Company Regular Support Staff Warrant Officer for countless hours of work put into designing and organizing the exercise, inspired by his participation on the Boeselager Cup in 1994. We extend our gratitude to all the support staff for helping set up the trails and man checkpoints throughout the course.

Last but not least a special thanks to the Royal Canadian Legion Branch #277, in Squamish British Columbia, for their hospitality and providing dinner. END TRAILS put to the test teamwork, trade craft and physical fitness, which are the cornerstones of every soldier’s job, making this exercise a rewarding and memorable event that will hopefully become a lasting tradition.

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