The Seaforth Highlanders

OF CANADA

The Seaforth Highlanders of Canada are Vancouver’s infantry regiment, based in Vancouver, British Columbia. As a reserve force in the Canadian Forces, The Seaforth Highlanders have served in times of war, humanitarian and disaster relief and in peacemaking efforts abroad, and during times of civil emergency at home.  The Regiment is comprised of volunteer soldiers who offer their time, their commitment to serve, their skills and their ever-lasting dedication to achieving the Canadian freedoms we enjoy today.

Exercise Highland Frost

“Living on the west coast grants one certain advantages. Particularly, our snow is generally respectable enough to stay where it belongs: on the mountains. Snow is to seen, or to be enjoyed at our own behest during pleasant past-times. Living this privileged west coast lifestyle comes at a cost however, for we forget the true hardship enduring a real Canadian winter. This becomes especially important when one considers the question of national defence, as the vast majority of the country is constituted of a frigid ice-scape even through summer. It therefore behooves us to be able to operate in these conditions. Enter, exercise HIGHLAND FROST.

Ex HIGHLAND FROST's objective was a humble although important one: learn to live and move in winter conditions. The knowledgeable soldier reading this will immediately discern the nature of this learning: setting one's tent group up, taking it down, moving somewhere else, finally followed by doing at all over again. Though it may seem mundane and repetitive, practice of these drills are vital to a formations ability to fight in such conditions.

Movement itself can be a bit of a bugbear in the snow, especially when one is not accustomed to the unique characteristics of locomotion via snowshoe. Warrant Officer Deans and Warrant Officer Paton led an excellent series of lessons on this very topic. Of particular note was the concept of self-recovery in the event that one has fallen. Much fun was had in observing other's attempts to stand back up again, which when simultaneously encumbered by rucksack and tangled by harness can pose quite the interesting puzzle.

Snow conditions in the mountains such as we have here on the west coast can be extremely treacherous. To illuminate the exercise attendees on this subject, Corporal Miljevic-Laroche conducted a field lecture on the importance and theory of reading snow stability and assessing Avalanche conditions. If the reader is interested in learning more on this topic, look into taking Avalanche Skills Training (AST) level one: a nationally recognized qualification available from many local institutions.

No exercise is complete without at least some minor disaster. In the case of HIGHLAND FROST this manifested in the form of a deathly ill bus driver. Finding him quite unable to make the return journey, we spent a lovely few hours pursuing that timeless activity practiced by militaries the world over: waiting. Eventually the bus driver's relief did arrive and we made our way back to Jericho, both safe and slightly more knowledgeable in the arts of winter warfare.

Ryan Di Fine

Master Corporal”

 

39 Canadian Brigade Group at the Sikh Vaisakhi Parade

On 19 April 2014, the Seaforth Highlanders of Canada coordinated the 39 Canadian Brigade Group’s support for the Sikh Vaisakhi parade in Surrey, British Columbia. This celebration marking the birth of the Sikh religion is a significant yearly community event and typically draws up to 200,000 spectators. The Seaforths, along with other Brigade units, provided a marching contingent led by the Pipes and Drums as well as displays to be viewed by the community at large. The Sikh community in Surrey were, as always, incredibly welcoming and embraced the Canadian Army presence with great enthusiasm. One of the soldiers who participated in this event, Private Mujcin, who is an elementary school teacher in Surrey when not in uniform, wrote a article (attached below) describing his experience in the parade which well reflects the ongoing bond between Sikh community and 39 Canadian Brigade Group.

Last week I had the privilege of experiencing the Vaisakhi celebration as a civilian at my school. I teach Grade 4 at an elementary school in Surrey, where a number of students come from the Sikh religion and Vaisakhi is an important event for them.  This weekend, on April 19th, 2014, I had the opportunity to participate in the Surrey Vaisakhi Parade as a member of the Seaforth Highlanders of Canada and found that my civilian experience was just the tip of the ice berg.

I was amazed at how open and receptive the participants of the parade were to the Canadian Army. Many of the people who approached us had some connection to the military, if not here in Canada, then back in India. The comments from the people ranged from “Thank-you for protecting us” to “I hope my son joins the Army”.  I had never participated in this event before and found that it was a great learning experience, where we could all connect with the Sikh community and learn more about their culture.

The friendliness of the massive crowd was evident right from the start of the event and continued throughout the parade route, as there were many people approaching and offering us food and drink from a seemingly endless supply. One could not possibly leave this celebration hungry as the amount and the variety of food that was offered to everyone was overwhelming. There were countless times where my colleagues and I were asked to pose with the public for photographs, either with children, parents, or grandparents. Many times we were approached as we were trying to catch up to our section of the parade, only to be asked for another photo, which were obliged on all accounts. Many seemed to enjoy the chance to have their picture taken with a member of the military, regardless of who it was.

After the parade, I felt like I had learned a great deal. I thoroughly enjoyed the day of feasting, meeting new people and experiencing the Vaisakhi celebration as the community did a great job of hosting us. It was a pleasure being invited to this event and having other military members there to share the experience as it unfolded.

The next school day former and current students asked me many questions about my experience. I was in the great position to have had the chance to see the Vaisakhi celebration from both civilian and military sides and can say that it was a truly wonderful experience that I look forward to participating in again.

Private Mujcin

A Company

Seaforth Highlanders of Canada

Exercise Highland Pathfinder

Salt Water Highlanders
By MCpl Andrew McDonald

The weekend of November 22nd saw one of the largest joint reserve exercises in recent memory on the West Coast.  Blessed with some amazing weather, Exercise HIGHLAND PATHFINDER was centred around the Northern tip of Indian Arm with the aim of training for operations in a complex environment, both in terms of the contemporary exercise scenario as well the unique challenges encountered when operating on and near the water.

Five different Army units and elements of the Navy took part to support the weekend’s exercise.   6 Intelligence Coy, 12th Field Ambulance, 39 Combat Engineer Regiment, and 39 Signals Regiment were all on deck providing their trade specific support to the Seaforth Highlanders as they went about their business of identifying the enemy and defining their capabilities.  The initial transport for all troops from Deep Cove to the dock at Wigwam Inn(a lodge-type facility operated by the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club) at the top of the Arm was facilitated by Navy personnel in RIB’s (Rigid Inflatable Boats) provided by HMCS Discovery.

After a back brief on Friday evening by elements of 6 Int Coy, Saturday morning started early with transport to Deep Cove and the subsequent deployment up Indian Arm under the control of the Navy.  Upon arrival at the HQ and admin location, the Highlanders were shaken out into their respective sections and were introduced to their attachments for the weekend including medics, signallers and intelligence operators.  Patrols were then transported to their locations by the assault boats of the Engineers and Navy RIBs.

he patrolling was aimed at identifying and defining the enemy in the area.  The weekends operations and patrols culminated in an attack on Sunday morning on an enemy held beach at Granite Falls on the east side of Indian Arm.  Blank weapons fire could be heard across the still water at first light on Sunday morning as the Navy and Engineers dropped the Seaforth support and assault elements off at the beach for their attack.

The exercise was a welcome change of location for training as other established training areas in the Lower Mainland can at times be all too familiar for some troops.  The terrain in Indian Arm represented an excellent training opportunity as not only was it new, but also a challenge to operate in and required plans to be continually adjusted.  The isolated nature of Indian Arm coupled with the requirement to use water transport made the training value all the more unique and allowed soldiers to gain excellent experience working closely with other units within the Army as well as being exposed to Navy operations and their procedures.

Badging Ceremony

“On 25 September 2013, the Regiment continued a long standing tradition of ‘badging’ new Officers and Soldiers in front of the Battalion following the completion of their Infantry Training. This is a significant event for the young Officers and Soldiers on parade as this is where they are presented the unique head dress of the regiment and are entitled to wear the cap badge that marks them as members of the Seaforth Highlanders of Canada. On this particular parade, the Commanding Officer, LCol Scott Raesler, had the pleasure of badging 2 new officers and 10 soldiers, all of whom had completed their Infantry training last summer.

In an upcoming ceremony, the CO will also have the pleasure of badging a further six soldiers who weren’t on parade this evening. As trained Officers and Soldiers, these young men will now take up positions in A Company where they will be given the opportunity to hone their newly acquired skills through further training and demanding exercises in preparation for future tasks in support of Domestic or Expeditionary operations in the service of Canada.”

 

Annual Fittest Seaforth Competition

On 5 Jun 13 the third annual Fittest Seaforth competition was held at the regiment’s temporary home, within the Jericho Garrison. This competition is conducted at the final parade of each training year following a rigorous selection process. This year, there were nine competitors, representing the fittest members of the Jr Ranks, Warrant Officers and Sergeants and Officers’ Messes including the two previous champions, Sgt Mayer and Pte Ma.  The course stretched nearly 3km and the route climbed the  significant hill behind the Jericho Garrison HQ Building three times.  The course was comprised of 9 different exercise stations including kettle bell lifts, medicine ball tosses, stretcher drags, as well as water jerry and sandbag carries.

The competition began with a two minute plank and then the soldiers were off and running.  Climbing the hill the first two times took about 18 minutes.   When the competitors started up the hill for the last time the top 5 were all within a second of one another.  At the top of the hill was the very last exercise, the sandbag lift.  This provided the competitors a sneak peak at one of the new test components from the FORCE Program which replaces the CF EXPRES test.   The sandbag lift requires 30 consecutive lifts of a 20 kg sandbag to a height above 91.5 cm, alternating between left and right sandbags separated by 1.25 m.  To make this suitable for the Fittest Seaforth, the height was raised to 1m and was put at the end of a grueling race.

MCpl Iten began the sandbag lift first and when he neared the end he was joined by the next four competitors.  By the time they had completed the lift and raced down to the shelter, the top three competitors were MCpl Iten, Pte Chernoff and Sgt Mayer, all completing the route in about 24 minutes.  MCpl Iten’s victory means the Fittest Seaforth trophy returns to the Jr Ranks mess for the next 12 months.  Congratulations to all the competitors, all of whom completed the course.

Highland Stalker

From 8-10 February 2013, Alpha Company of the Seaforth Highlanders of Canada conducted a live fire exercise for 50 of its soldiers at Volkes Range and the Slesse Creek Demolition Range near Chilliwack, BC. The objective of the exercise was for every soldier to reach a level of proficiency with his/her personal weapon on the conventional 600 meter Volkes range prior to moving to the Slesse Creek Demolition Range to practice Fire Team maneuver techniques utilizing both blank and live ammunition as gateway training for an upcoming live fire patrolling exercise to be conducted in the United States in March 2013. Despite the cold, all soldiers qualified on their individual weapons and met all standards in anticipation of the upcoming training exercise at Fort Lewis which will be conducted with other infantry soldiers of the Royal Westminster Regiment of New Westminster.

The Seaforth Highlanders of Canada