146 TROOP TRAINING DIARIES – WEEK 22 & 23
Week 22 of recruit training commenced with 3 days of adventure training at Commando Logistics Regiment (CLR) in Chivenor, North Devon. The Troop was divided into 3 sections for the duration and rotated around different activities each day. As part of 3 section we kicked off the week with sea kayaking around the coastland. We were in ‘two man’ kayaks which took a while for some people to get the hang of but most of us got there in the end after a few capsizes! We set off around the edge of the coast with the instructor picking out some cheeky routes through the rock for us to navigate through. This proved very difficult at first until we realised that communication with each other was essential and we were flying through them in no time! Towards the end of the day when the tide was coming in and the wave swell was building we were shown a route next to a large rock facing out to open water. It was our turn to have a crack at it when all of a sudden a double wave stacked up and washed us right up on top of the rock! After a few minutes shuffling we managed to tip the kayak off the edge of the rock face which resulted in us face planting the water while still in the kayak which was good morale for the section and a good reminder of what sea water tastes like for us!
On Tuesday morning we were taken over to stores to collect mountain bikes. We were then driven out for around an hour to a hilly location and set off for the day. It was clear who was the most confident on a bike and particularly painful for those who were not! We covered a total of 11 miles cross country through forestry tracks and down rocky footpaths. As the day went on it was clear that the people who struggled most at the start were starting to feel more confident on the rougher tracks and began to pick up some good speed. It was good to see that everybody was progressing each day! The third day saw us surfing on a near by beach. We were accompanied by two JNCOs from our training team. Some of us had never been on a surf board before so were slightly anxious as to how the day was going to go but we listened to the instructor’s advice and got straight into it. Overall it was great catching some big waves and managing to stand up on the board every so often, but mainly getting smashed by large waves! It was a good day and everyone came back on the minibus with a feeling of success from what we had achieved.
We then headed back to CTCRM that afternoon in preparation to receive a set of orders for Exercise VIOLENT ENTRY that evening from our Troop Commander. This set everybody into ‘Exercise mode’. After battle preparation the next day we set off on the 3 hour journey to Sennybridge, South Wales. This was the last few hours of good rest we would have for the next 6 days. There was certainly a nervous energy about the Troop. We arrived at the drop off point on the training area at around 2300 hours and split down into our sections. One by one we set off to navigate our way to the harbour position with full kit using a set of checkpoints we had previously studied on a map. It was instantly clear by the weight of all our kit that included the General Purpose Machine Gun (GPMG), the low temperature and strong winds that this was going to be a very demanding week. Some hours later we arrived at an FUP and established a hasty harbour while waiting for the other sections to arrive. We set off as a Troop to our potential harbour position and arrived there in the early hours.
My section was nominated as Troop HQ in the harbour. We worked hard to establish a good harbour routine; this meant that our section did not sleep that night! After stand to at first light some sections were sent out on recce patrols to gather intelligence on Cilieni Village which we would later launch a Troop deliberate attack on. Later that day we received a set of orders from the Troop Commander. We then set off as a Troop to drive the ‘insurgency’ out of the village. My GPMG was used by 1 section as they took a position on a near by hill top to act as fire support thus allowing 2, 3 and 4 sections to assault. The command was given to attack and we sprinted into the village carrying full assault order behind a cloud of smoke. We reached and cleared our objective BRONZE and helped 3 section to secure the compound before moving off to objective GOLD and clearing the compound. We utilised the skills we had learnt in previous weeks in the MUC compound back at CTCRM and soon cleared the compounds before setting out all round defence until further orders were given.
We stayed in our respective compounds and laid out defences to prevent ‘enemy forces’ from breaking into our positions. This was by far the best part of the exercise and we became very clever with methods of securing the compound. Our building was attacked countless times that night and we were all pleased to say that our defences held up well and we stopped all insurgency breaking in! While in the village we undertook numerous patrols and conducted a number of vehicle stops at vehicle check points (VCPs) we had set up. The following morning we set off on another yomp to the next objective with all our kit. After a few miles we received Quick Battle Orders (QBOs) for an advanced to contact which included an assault onto a woodblock. 4 section was nominated as fire support and I had my GPMG back so it was good to finally start laying down some rounds with the gun! On completion of clearing the woodblock we set up another harbour position and normal harbour routine commenced. An OP and recce patrols were sent out ready for a first light attack on a farm which was currently occupied by enemy insurgency. Charlie Fire Team went out and set up an OP while Delta Fire Team stayed behind and continued with the harbour routine in Troop HQ. At first light we launched an attack with fire support from the GPMGs. The farm was successfully taken and the Troop made its way back to the harbour position to undertake CBRN training in the trenches.
We spent the night there in Dress Cat 3 with our respirators at the ready in case a chemical attack came in. The next day we came under numerous attacks in which we had to put on our respirators to prevent being CS gassed in the face by the CBRN instructor! A chemical survey patrol was sent out to clear the area which then came under attack and my section was sent out to support them. This resulted in us conducting a 200m fireman’s carry in full ‘Romeo’ (respirators on) and fighting order which proved to be a lung destroying task. Later on we set off in full fighting order and launched an attack on a nearby compound occupied by enemy. We then gathered all our kit together and set off on a 12km march up and down the hills of Sennybridge which was a big test of ability for every member of the Troop. At the end of the yomp we established a harbour position in a woodblock before receiving another set of deliberate attack orders, this time to assault ‘Village 1’. After clambering down some boggy paths and wading through rivers, we were set to start the attack. As soon as the first shot was fired we burst forward and started the assault. We overran the village and established all round defence. The last phase of the exercise was almost over.
After lots of post exercise administration we set off back to CTCRM and received a debriefing from the Troop Commander on how the exercise went. Unfortunately we found out that we would lose 3 members of the Troop who had failed the exercise. The remainder of the Troop were ecstatic that they had passed and were progressing on to the next stage of training. Overall the last two weeks were extremely hard and very demanding but we all feel like we have achieved a lot in a short space of time. Bring on Exercise FINAL THRUST in 4 weeks time!