By Kevin Young, Fort Sill CannoneerFebruary 5, 2009
Continuing a long tradition of joint international training, Fort Sill hosted a small group of Canadian soldiers for 11 days. They flew home Jan. 30.
The Canadians were working guests of B Battery, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Field Artillery and were escorted by 1st Lt. Charles Griggs, fire direction officer of the unit. Griggs found the cohorts to be familiar with U.S. equipment and training, but still found some things different about our northern neighbors.
"The strangest thing is that there are no [military occupation specialties] in the Royal Canadian Artillery," Griggs said in an interview outside the Engagement Skills Trainer 3 on Fort Sill's East Range. "Everyone is simply an artilleryman. We have many different MOSs in the U.S. Army artillery, like 13B, 13D, 13E, 13M, 13P, but they have soldiers who are trained to do all of it."
The battery also found another significant difference between Fort Sill artillerymen and their Canadian counterparts: The Canadians come from the Great White North, so they showed up for PT formations in their shorts and T-shirts. While the Fort Sill Soldiers wore their sweats, the 30 degree pre-dawn temperature at Fort Sill made for a nice run, several Canadians affirmed.
The Canadians came from Canadian Forces Base Gagetown, a small town and post in the Canadian province of New Brunswick. The base is east of the state of Maine, halfway to the island of Nova Scotia.
Lt. Michelle Traquilla was the only officer and senior member of the group, which was made up of members of W Battery, Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery. As members of the Canadian army artillery, they don't identify themselves as members of the army, instead, they said they were in the Royal Canadian Artillery. In their branch, the individual identifies his or her self as a branch member ... which includes their rank. Take the case of David Jarrell, one of the junior members of the group.
His rank' Gunner. His next promotion' Bombadier. The Canadian enlisted ranks then climb through master bombardier, sergeant, warrant officer, master warrant officer and chief master officer. According to the Canadian army Web site, artillery made up the first units of the Canadian army, which might explain why they aren't restricted to privates, corporals and sergeants.
The Canadian army also doesn't restrict female assignments, so Traquilla, a female, is an artillery officer in every sense of the word.
Traquilla liked Fort Sill most for the space available for training. At their home base, they share training area with the armor, infantry, engineers and other schools.
"Fort Sill is much bigger than we're used to," Traquilla said. She added that its charms aren't limited to the open spaces. "It's nice and everybody's really friendly."
Traquilla explained that her selection to lead the group to Fort Sill for training was normal for her unit.
"All the officers in our battery are given "good goes," Traquilla said. "In a "good go," they get to lead a group to a good international training assignment like Fort Sill or Korea. It helps us keep current on our allies training, tactics and capabilities."
When the East Range of Fort Sill was empty of Soldiers training due to last week's ice storm that closed the post for over a day, the Canadians pushed on with their training. The visit of the 10-member detachment to EST-3 Wednesday was the only training activity that day. The group pushed to complete their training cycle to get full exposure to U.S. Army digital training systems, the battery commander said.
"While here, the Canadians were integrated into our battery's training," said Capt. Peter D. Zaffina, battery commander. "They conducted training on the M119A2 light towed howitzer. They were also able to focus on how we use digital training systems in our Army. They practiced crew drill on the Automated Howitzer Crew Trainer, marksmanship at the Engagement Skills Trainer 2000 and calls for fire at the Joint Fires and Effects Trainer System."