[Note - This blog post was migrated from our previous website. Originally posted September 11, 2016]
BLACKBIRD and SENTINEL consisted of two end-to-end missions that were conducted in Prince Edward County, Ontario. The format was consistent, with a briefing on a situation using a simplified OPORD, and then a team-based planning session to work out the specifics of execution. Teams were required to consider tactical and strategic options, enemy courses of action, alternate and contingency plans, logistics, and casualty management. The missions were hosted within the town of Picton, and at Angry Loner Ranch. Rapid Fire paintball was also to be used, but the number of participants and missions did not warrant the extra location. The two missions, their objectives, and their outcomes are outlined below.
-Mousetrap Planning Phase
SENTINEL Mission "MOUSETRAP"
Military intelligence has been closing in on identifying foreign assets within the country. As a result, enemy activity has increased. On Friday at 1942h, an enemy operative landed at the local airport and was admitted to the country specifically to be placed under observation so that other enemy agents could be observed. Saturday morning at approximately 0730h, the subject evaded the surveillance teams. WHISKEY group is deployed to reacquire the target and identify any communications or contacts. Objectives: Primary - Reacquire target ALPHA - Observe all activities of ALPHA - Obtain imagery of ALPHA and any BRAVO assets that interact with the target - Intercept any communications through the use of dead drops
Actions: WHISKEY group, consisting of JAMESON, CROWN, and DANIELS were deployed into Picton at approximately 1100h. Their initial searches of the area were non-resultant for the target, but a number of possible BRAVO assets were sighted and photographed. At 1148h, JAMESON 01 spotted an individual matching the ALPHA target description and reported it. WHISKEY elements carefully moved towards the area to begin monitoring the target. ALPHA moved into a local coffee shop, and was positively ID’d by JAMESON 02.
- Target ALPHA exiting local store
The area was monitored for some time before ALPHA exited the café with a cup of coffee, and transited to a local Giant Tiger. Assets obtained first clear photographic evidence of the target, despite having some intermittent contact. The asset was pursued through several alleys and streets before visibility was lost. Some confusion remained as units attempted to locate ALPHA, when it was discovered the target had changed clothes.
- Target ALPHA after clothing change
Shortly after that time, the target repeatedly dropped a coffee cup in a specific area. WHISKEY elements suspected this may have been the dead drop and recorded imagery of possible communications left behind at the site.
At 1245h, target ALPHA disappeared near a local park and could not be reacquired. Results: SUCCESS - Reacquire target ALPHA PARTIAL SUCCESS - Observe all activities of ALPHA SUCCESS - Obtain imagery of ALPHA and any BRAVO assets that interact with the target FAILURE - Intercept any communications through the use of dead drops While WHISKEY group managed to reacquire and track ALPHA, they were unable to view all of the actions including the official dead drop which used a Tim Hortons double cup to hide a message in an alley.
SENTINEL Mission “WATCHTOWER”
During analysis of imagery of personnel and vehicles gathered during MOUSETRAP, intelligence identified a vehicle belonging to a group of interest. The vehicle was tracked to a site 17km North of FOB Picton. When ELINT teams began their monitoring of the site, they picked up low level encrypted satellite broadcasts of an unknown type. Due to the signal pattern and high level of security on the transmission, Intelligence believes this may be a prototype of a theorized SATCOM device. GRANITE team is tasked with infiltrating the area and capturing imagery of the device and all personnel (code named CEDAR) on site.
-GRANITE prior to insertion
Objectives: Primary - Obtain imagery of suspected device - Obtain imagery of enemy personnel Actions: GRANITE planned a single site insert with multiple OPs to obtain the best viewpoints while also offering the best security. At approximately 1730h, units boarded an unmarked cargo van and moved to the insertion point LIMESTONE. GRANITE deployed successfully and began movement towards the ORP.
- GRANITE preparing to move from insertion point
- GRANITE ingress to ORP
At this time, METREP was updated to alert of large thunderstorm cells moving through the area and extremely heavy rain began shortly after.
GRANITE continued towards the objective with knowledge that limited daylight created a hard stop for image gathering. At 1920h, GRANITE had passed through their ORP and had established their OPs for reconnaissance. Some imagery was gathered but no conclusive evidence of the device could be seen from a secure distance. GRANITE 01 and 02 detected vehicle sounds on site. GRANITE 02 made visual contact with the vehicle but they were not observed.
- GRANITE 01 Observing the target area
At 1940h, a single target, designated CEDAR 01, was observed patrolling the treeline near the position of GRANITE 01, using a flashlight to probe the shadowed areas. GRANITE actual made the determination that CEDAR 01 was going to observe GRANITE and opened fire. CEDAR 01 immediately broke contact.
- CEDAR elements signaling contact
GRANITE actual assessed that the current plan was no longer viable, and the only way to obtain imagery of the objective was to assault the position. Coordinating with GRANITE 02, GRANITE 01 initiated an immediate action plan to take over the structures on site. Approaching from both East and West, GRANITE assaulted the position, eliminating the majority of CEDAR targets and securing the site, with the exception of one in a hard point within a structure. An enemy designated CEDAR 02 surrendered after being injured and was placed in restraints.
- CEDAR 02 from the overwatch position during surrender
During the contact, GRANITE suffered casualties. GRANITE 01 sustained minor injuries and performed self-aid. GRANITE 03 suffered a major injury however he was able to return to fighting after bleeding had been stopped. GRANITE 02 suffered a critical injury, and the decision was made to press the assault before tending to the wounds. GRANITE 02 was stabilized shortly after the site was secured.
Upon search of the site, all EKIAs had weapons removed and were bound and left in place. CEDAR 01 was located near an EKIA he had been using for cover. CEDAR 01 had multiple GSWs and was suffering from major injuries. He was bound and treated at the scene. A search of CEDAR 01 revealed the prototype device intelligence was searching for. With the device obtained, it was determined that CEDAR 01 may have further information regarding its design and operation so the decision was made to extract CEDARs 01 and 02 for further questioning. Units requested extraction, and upon arrival of a COTS vehicle, loaded the prisoners and egressed the AO.
-GRANITE en route during extraction
Results: SUCCESS - Obtain imagery of suspected device SUCCESS - Obtain imagery of enemy personnel GRANITE inserted and moved to ORPs and OPs successfully without being observed, despite vehicular patrols. Some imagery was obtained, but none sufficient for intelligence to analyze. Upon their contact, GRANITES initiative and bias to action resulted in a direct assault that yielded the device itself, as well as two prisoners for interrogation.