The week started with a lecture on Monday covering some of the tactical subjects we would be covering on Exercise FIRST BASE, our first exercise of Phase 2 of training.  On Tuesday we started the exercise which consisted of a yomp across the common to be met by the training team for a lecture and demo on contact drills.  We went over different formations such as arrow head, diamond and breaking contact.  As we watched the training team carry out the drills we enjoyed some tooty fruity sweets a new entry to our ration packs!  Next we established our comms and set up harbour and had some down time to make scran and sort out our foot admin.  We made track plans and set up comms cord for the tactical harbour and also dug out model pits.  Our first night consisted of a walkthrough of reconnaissance patrols; this night would prove to be a lot easier than what was to come.
The next morning we had to be stood to and packed away by 0630hrs  which ran smoothly with morning routine completed on time however this didn’t go to plan later on in the exercise.  We then got orders through the radio to be at a location where we received a lecture from Cpl Renwick on observation posts.  Some recruits found themselves doing sprints and tuck jumps after saying they felt cold.  After this we set up on the bun line and split up fifty fifty with half the Troop cooking and half the Troop stood to.  Next thing we knew we were under unexpected fire from there rear of our position.  Sgt Harrison who was acting as an insurgent was captured by the Troop.  He was then searched and treated as a Prisoner of War.
That night we conducted a recce patrol on other ranks that were out conducting training of their own on Woodbury Common.  It was agreed by most of our section to be the most enjoyable part of the exercise.  We made our way to the final point of the night and adopted our positions in all round defence covering all arcs of fire while the section IC Rct Wilson and 2IC Rct Fox talked through the plan.  We then set off towards our target moving silently in single file formation along the track wearing our head and shoulders scrims.  Visibility was poor as it was late into the night and any small noise made by the smallest of stones on the track seemed extremely loud.  We continued to ghost walk toward the target and were startled by the headlights of a vehicle.  We took cover as close as possible to the side of the track and Cpl Grasham sprinted round the corner and got into cover.  Luckily for us the vehicle moved along another route and exited the area to our rear, we remained unseen.  After this we reached our desired target and got within ten metres of the enemy harbour.  Rct Fox observed the target and the vehicles using our night vision optics, he relayed his observations to Cpl Grasham who in turn relayed them to me.  I then conducted a log of intelligence gathered using a red light in good cover to remain unseen.   Cpl Grasham was impressed with our efforts. 
The exercise came to a head with the five mile speed march back to camp something which recruits weren’t looking forward to however it was completed with great effort and the Troop Commander was impressed.  Along the route especially toward the end the Troop Commander gave words of encouragement and reminded us of what we were trying to achieve which gave everyone a boost.  The famous sign was visible to us along the lane reading ‘500 meters to go, its only pain’ and we cracked on till the end.  Overall some parts of the exercise were enjoyable described in bootneck terms as hoofin’, yet some would be described as honkin’.  Every recruit felt a sense of accomplishment at the end of the exercise.  Another week completed.

Rct Thomas DJ


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