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Reserve Forces & Cadets Association
Northern Ireland


24 September 2015

71 Engineer Regiment 591 Field Squadron deployed to Rapid City South Dakota on Ex GOLDEN COYOTE 15, which was a multinational exercise involving 3,500 troops primarily from the United States Army National Guard but with approximately 250 personnel from Canada, Denmark and UK.  The exercise was hosted by the South Dakota Army National Guard (SDANG).

71 Engr Regt deployed 85 personnel who were tasked into 2 x Construction Troops and a Plant Section.  The Construction Troops conducted several small tasks, working both alone and with the Danish Royal Engineers.  Troops were also deployed in order to conduct the Timber Haul Operation which required approximately 200 loads of felled timber to be delivered to the Native American Reservations in South Dakota.

The exercise was spread across SW South Dakota.  The topography of the exercise area was a mixture of steeply sided and heavily wooded mountains of the Black Hills Forest National Park and undulating plains.  

Rapid City is approximately 1300m above sea level, construction task sites had an altitude of approximately 1700m above sea level, with the Timber Haul site being at approximately 2800m elevation.  This altitude combined with the relatively high air temperatures provided a challenging physical environment.  Average Temperature was approximately 210C with daily highs in the region of 270C.  Heavy rainfall often occurred in the late afternoon.  

There was a wide variety of large animals both in the mountains and on the plains including buffalo, elk, coyote and mountain cats.  The general advice was to leave them well alone, which was taken on board from day one.  Smaller animals such as chipmunks, raccoons and squirrels were more of a nuisance and all equipment and food had to be well stowed in order to not attract animals. There were a number of snakes in South Dakota, and the only venomous snake is the prairie rattlesnake which was spotted on many occasions but luckily no one was bitten. 

The Exercise proved very successful and provided great experiences for the members of the Regiment.