144 Troop Diary – Week 10
Exercise Hunters Moon began like most, a night of packing kit to ensure that everyone has everything they need for the field. As a rule in the Corps we say if you have 3Hrs to pack aBergenit’ll take 3Hrs but if you only have 20mins then you’ll get it done in 20mins. Needless to say we apply a time pressure to ensure the guys are well rested prior to deployment. Ex Hunters Moon is the first full week that the Rcts spend in the field and it is also the most arduous exercise they have encountered so far.
The week starts with a 8km insertion march carrying full bergens, webbing and rifles. This is the first insertion march that the troop have conducted and they performed very well proving that they had assimilated the information taught during the navigation training by finding their way through various checkpoints. Once the troop had inserted the training begun and the first evolution they undertook was a lesson on ‘Stalking’. The guys learnt to camouflage themselves and choose the best route to get to an enemy undetected before firing off a shot at the target. Some were successful…..some were not, but this was not a concern as we knew they would have another attempt to hone their skills the following day. The bulk of this exercise is designed to test the recruits navigation and during the day and night they would conduct marches over some of the boggiest, steepest and also most beautiful terrain Dartmoor has to offer although I’m confident that there was not a lot of sightseeing going on. The troop prove to the team they have a good grasp on navigation and movement over the terrain during day and night. On the second night of the exercise they conducted a night navigation serial unsupervised and proved to us that they are confident in their own ability… almost. We did find ourselves awake a good few hours more than expected as we tried to track down 1 group of 4 recruits who decided that the navigation exercise was one checkpoint too far!
The troop then conducted an extraction march of approximately 10km to the transport but the exercise was far from over. The transport dropped us off some 4km down the road and once again the guys found themselves on a gentle 8km insertion ‘yomp’ into the survival exercise. During this phase they put into use the skills they had been taught and built shelters to live in just in time for the heavens to open. This rainfall made surviving that much more difficult but full credit goes to all members of the troop who managed to get a fire going and get into a effective routine of foraging for essentials. They were gifted with a chicken and some fish which they culled and prepared under supervision of the Mountain Leaders. As the team walked around we were impressed by the resourcefulness of some of the teams who had cooked up some mouth watering soup dishes using only a tin and a few oxo cubes out of their survival tins. The rain didn’t stop for 36 hours but a combination of good shelters and good team bonding meant that everyone ended the exercise on a high and as a team we are quietly impressed.