1st Battalion The Royal Irish Rangers, Exercise MEDICINE MAN 7, Canada.

Event
Wednesday, 15 October, 1986 - Saturday, 29 November, 1986

RangerCBAfter two weeks preparatory training at Soltau, West Germany, 1 R IRISH headed for Camp Crowfoot at Suffield Training Area in the province of Alberta, Canada. MEDICINE MAN (MM) 7 is always the last exercise of the training year in Canada and is usually the coldest as temperatures fall below zero and snow sweeps across the western prairies. The 1 R IRISH Battlegroup consisted of A and B Company 1 R IRISH, A and B Squadron 4 Royal Tank Regiment, one field troop and one armoured troop Royal Engineers, and two Gazelle helicopters from 664 Squadron Army Air Corps. The main body flew to Canada from 15 - 19 October and returned complete to West Germany by 29 November 1986.

The culmination of training was Ex ALAMEIN, a six-day exercise testing the 1 R IRISH Battlegroup in all 'Phases of War'. The exercise began with A and B Company dug into defensive positions guarding two 'Reserve Demolitions' on the River Suffield (a notional feature). A Company guarded ‘ROOK PIE’ in the south and B Company ‘POLAR BEAR’ to the north. Temperatures fell to below -20C and forward of the infantry positions the armour and recce fought an aggressive delaying action before breaking clean and crossing to the friendly forces side of the reserve demolitions on the bridges across the River Suffield. Then both demolitions were blown and under cover of smoke A and B Company withdrew. As the battlefield was shaped by this opening tactic, the Battlegroup redeployed to fight the enemy through various phases until the exercise culminated in an 'Advance to Contact' with the aim of capturing an enemy crossing and its defensive location. Company flags were raised with pride for the final attack and the objectives seized.

The significance of training in Canada on MM exercises is that all these actions were conducted in a live firing manoeuvre battle environment with all ranks witnessing at close quarters the effects of artillery, mortar and main tank armour live firing onto targets. Most spectacular were always the 'Close Danger' missions fired by Royal Artillery guns in support of the Rangers dug into their defensive positions.

After the end of Ex ALAMEIN, 1 R IRISH were then involved in ‘winterising’ the fleet and training facilities as the British Army Training Unit Suffield prepared for its annual hibernation through the deep freeze of an Alberta winter. Following this, individuals scattered on the traditional Rest & Recuperation trips across Canada, or into northern states of the USA, and a party of fourteen officers visited Vancouver where they were entertained by the Irish Fusiliers of Canada Association. The final recovery to West Germany was completed by 29 November, when 1 R IRISH returned to Belfast Barracks, Osnabrück and were rewarded with a well deserved Christmas block leave.

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