By First Lt. Thomas GomezDecember 6, 2012
FORT DRUM, N.Y. -- Scouts from 1st Squadron, 71st Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, headed 200 miles north to Petawawa, Ontario, last month to participate in a joint training exercise with the Royal Canadian Dragoons.
The focus was to build relationships, test deployability and provide an opportunity for members of 1-71 Cavalry and the Royal Canadian Dragoons to learn from one another.
Forces participating in Exercise Charging Dragoon crossed more than 70 kilometers of Canadian countryside, including civilian farmlands and towns between Petawawa and Ottawa.
Scouts from Fort Drum were trained on the basic operating procedures used by the Dragoons. The two units also held joint maneuver training and gained familiarization with each other's equip- ment and capabilities.
Participants said it was a valuable learning experience for both the Americans and the Canadians as the differences and similarities between the two armies were brought to light and discussed.
"The Canadian simulator provides a valuable aspect that we can learn from, because they have people firing paintballs at you as you try to engage targets," said Spc. Jacob Schulte, 1-71 Cavalry scout, when describing the differences between the weapons simulations.
In addition to military training, evenings were spent building un-ity and camaraderie between the two forces.
"It was great to spend time with the Dragoons after work," said Spc. Ko Wei Chen of B Troop, 1-71 Cavalry. "We got to know those guys really well and build friendships."
The first four days of training and relationship-building set the stage for the field problem, the final and invaluable portion of the exercise in which Soldiers were able to learn, grow and ultimately become better scouts.
Leaders were able to exercise command and control effectively with great distances between themselves and their adjacent units.
"Operating in wide and unfamiliar terrain allowed us to test our command and control abilities (as well as) our abilities to work with an allied force," said Staff Sgt. Jeremy Sowby, a platoon sergeant with B Troop, 1-71 Cavalry.
The units used a vast range of equipment in both rural and urban environments as their missions took them through farm fields and the hearts of heavily populated towns.
Additionally, members of 1-71 Cavalry and the Dragoons engaged the public, offering civilians the opportunity o see the equipment Soldiers used and thus gain a deeper understanding of their capabilities.
"Maneuvering outside of the training area added a new element to our training," said Pfc. Jonathan Cantu, 1-71 Cavalry scout. "We now had to truly consider how our actions affected civilians, which is important in our conflicts today.
"It was a great experience to be able to show civilians what we do," he added. "Conducting a security halt in front of a fast food restaurant was a lot different (from) conducting one in the middle of the woods. I felt like people could really gain a better understanding of the armed forces."
With the Canadians and Americans operating side by side, the two cavalry organizations learned from each other during the exercise, forged new relationships and strengthened the bond between two allies.