It can be intimidating to see numerous military vehicles and apparatus set up in the Lacombe Arena’s parking lot, but as the old adage goes, practice makes perfect. That’s exactly what 41 Signal Regiment was doing in Lacombe from Oct. 25 – 27, practicing.
The 41 Signal Regiment performed Exercise Index Rose, which served as something of a refresher course and an opportunity for members to re-familiarize themselves with radio functions and how to do trouble-shooting.
As this regiment is responsible for communications, it is important to keep these skills sharp.
MP Blaine Calkins visited the operation on Oct. 26 for a brief tour. He said it is important for the people of Lacombe to see reservists and all military personnel in action to better understand what they do.
Calkins added that it is good for military personnel to familiarize themselves with the area.
“It doesn’t matter where you get deployed anytime you have people you aren’t familiar with a particular community, if they come and spend a weekend there they are familiar with the community,” said Calkins. “If they have to come and spend a weekend there, they become familiar with the community. If they have to come back to that community sometime in the future, being there once or twice before is a great thing.”
Second Lt. James Gascoyne, a math and science teacher at Lacombe Junior High School in his other life, said that the apparatuses set up in Lacombe over the weekend were only used as training areas, but in real world situations, one of those vehicles, known as a detachment or det, would be deployed to provide whatever communications necessary for the operation.
From the outside, dets resemble a military truck with a tent hanging off the side of them and also have antenna attached to the vehicle.
Inside that tent, members would set up their living quarters, mess, and whatever other equipment might be necessary for the operation.
Usually, these dets are deployed with enough supplies for 72 hours, as military reserve operations typically do not last any longer than that, said Gascoyne. He added that dets usually deploy with three members who would rotate through duties; one standing sentry, one working, one resting/sleeping.
Gascoyne said that these dets are not typically placed forward of a position in combat areas. He added this is because of how vulnerable and recognizable the dets are, they would make too easy of a target.
“As soon as you throw an antenna on there, the enemy goes, ‘Hey, if we take that out, they can’t talk to each other,’” said Gascoyne.
As 41 Signal Regiment members are reservists, they are part-time soldiers with full-time jobs. Currently, 41 Signal Regiment is actively recruiting across the province.
Gascoyne said he originally joined the reserves in Edmonton while attending university there. He served with the Loyal Edmonton Regiment and when he moved from Edmonton and settled down in Lacombe, decided to get involved with the reserves again with 41 Signal Regiment.
Altogether, he has been a reservist for six years, two with the Loyal Edmonton Regiment and four with 41 Signal Regiment.
There are two things Gascoyne enjoys about his involvement with the reserves that have led him to stay involved, he said. Firstly, he said the service aspect appeals to him.
“There is definitely an altruistic side to me and I think a lot of reservists,” said Gascoyne. “We feel we want to do something that matters. We want to belong to something that is bigger than us.”
Secondly, there are the people. Gascoyne said that in many careers, once you get involved, you meet a great bunch of people. He said this is especially true of the reserves as they are all part-time soldiers from all walks of life.