Sunday, July 03, 2005

Canadian Army forced to use paintballs

So Paul, about that increased funding...

OTTAWA (CP) - Canadian soldiers testing their fighting skills in a rare urban exercise were forced to rent commercial paintball weapons because they couldn't get proper army gear, a newly disclosed document shows.

The unusual paintball battle was fought in the Halifax area last February, as the army practised helicopter evacuations in a hostile urban setting.

Four Griffon helicopters ferried troops from the Halifax Commons across the harbour to an unused military housing complex in Dartmouth, N.S., where room-to-room searches were conducted.

The dramatic training included some civilian participants, and drew curious citizens who were quick to snap souvenir pictures.

An internal report on Exercise Sky Trooper says the "venues provided the maximum amount of realism achievable for a contemporary operation."

But the faux evacuation was marred when soldiers were unable to use their army-issue practice ammunition, which fits into their rifles but fires only low-speed powder balls, leaving a harmless mark on the target.