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September 15, 2010
A howitzer (top) blasts a shell into the air as practise takes place for a five man crew that loads 100 pound shells into this cannon. ©Provost News Photo.
Last Canadian Battle Group Prepare for Afghanistan Mission
Final touches for the training of 1,500 men and women who are scheduled to be the last Canadian battle group heading to fight the Taliban in Afghanistan has been taking place at a local army base.

The 1er Battalion, Royal 22e Régiment's Battle Group (based in Valcartier, Quebec) has been working on pre-deployment training during Rapid Reflex at Canadian Forces Base Wainwright.

Troops will be going to Afghanistan in early November.
Another 1,500 people will travel with the battle group as support staff, leaving from Quebec.

Information was also gleaned from MPs and government officials on-site who were inspecting military equipment such as sophisticated mine-clearing tanks that use robotics for mine-sweeping. Photographs of those pieces of equipment were not allowed.

One of the MPs present, who is also an aide to the Prime Minister told The News that seeing the equipment first-hand is important. It helps politicians with decisions when the military wants to purchase equipment, he says.

A key part of the exercise is role-playing with members of the military dressed in Afghanistan clothing while a village in that country has been replicated on the base so troops will have a feel for the region before they get there. Maps being used in the field also mimic areas in Afghanistan such as the airfield, rivers and other landmarks.

The role-playing continues 24 hours per day—and says one of the soldiers, they usually have people acting in Afghan roles who have already served in Afghanistan so they “act with the right behaviour.”

The mission coming up will be “to try to protect the villagers . . . focus on the villagers said the soldier.”

In a briefing during the September 9 tour two other men also talked about the importance of communicating with the civilians. They said that Canada’s military is now beginning to use sophisticated computer technology that translates fundamental words or key phrases so that more of the local people can understand the military when being spoken to. The voice response translater (VRT)—already used by some allies is designed to diminish a communication disconnect with the local population so an interpretor is not always required. They say the locals are “very important” to Canada’s troops. The military troops and others are also trained in cultural awareness before being sent overseas.

During the day-long tour, tanks were also viewed and a tank commander talked about his previous time in Afghanistan and that “This job for me is a dream come true.” He talked about providing firepower, mobility and protection for the Canadian troops. He says they can fire the tanks at enemy positions while travelling 30 k.p.h. “but you want to be accurate” hinting a little slower would be better. He and his tank operators have been simulating where the insurgents are and then intercepting them.

Another group in action with live target practice were those loading and firing large guns—the M777 howitzer— weighing in at 9,000 pounds. It fires 100 pound shells loaded quickly by part of the five crew team. The weapon can be used with new GPS-guided munition, which allows accurate fire at a range of up to 40 km. The early use of the M777s were deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Archer, and were put into service in the Canadian theatre of operations near Kandahar in 2006. In the summer they made a significant contribution during the Battle of Panjwaii when many of the 72 Taliban reported killed during the heaviest fighting were due to artillery fire from two of these guns. In late fall of 2006, the Canadian M777 howitzers were equipped with the Digital Gun Management System, which improved accuracy and led to these guns being used for short range close support of Canadian and U.S. ground forces.

Some of the shells are designed to explode from 100 to 300 feet above ground while others detonate when the tip of the shell hits the ground.

The Quebec battle group will be in Afghanistan from November until July 2011 when Canada’s current mission ends.

Canada is among the top five donor countries for reconstructions and development in Afghanistan. The total mission cost including military for Canada from 2001-2011 is estimated at $11 billion.

Canadian lives lost in Afghanistan total 153.

Complete story and photos in September 15 edition of The Provost News.
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234 Dogs Licenced in Town
• No Licence Can Bring a $100 Fine For Owner
The Town of Provost is ready to impose a $100 fine on any dog owners who do not have a licence for their canine.

Al Dorman, who looks after the local dog pound just south of the CPR tracks in town says that the licences are issued annually and are used to help identify dogs to get them back to the owner if a dog is caught on the loose. If no identification is found the owner usually can’t be located and the dog will likely wind up being taken to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) in Lloydminster.

Story and photo in September 15 edition of The Provost News.
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Nomination Day Near for Municipal Offices
Complete story in September 15 edition of The Provost News.
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Street Spokesman
This week we ask: "Why Did You Join Canada’s Military?"
. . . and we heard answers from Capt. Michel Tousignant, Capt. Melina Archambault, Master Corp. Nicolas Bouchard and Padre Paco Simancas. Check out the September 15 edition of The Provost News for their answers.
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This, along with many other stories and pictures can be found in this week's edition of The Provost News.
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