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.