Our first week back from two weeks Christmas leave and everybody apart from Recruit Bickham had a heavy case of the Lympstone blues. Recruit Bickham was his usual jolly self, singing at the other not so happy recruits on arrival to their luxury pussers provided penthouses. As the night went on and the stories of everyone’s exploits commenced we slowly started to get comfortable with what we had left behind before Christmas leave. Monday morning started with a lovely galley full English breakfast and then straight to the Assault Engineers for some lectures on ground sign and improvised explosive device identification. In the afternoon we ended up on the top field next to the pond, where later we would find out what was at the bottom! The Assault Engineers showed us how to stop and search cars and people, with the forfeit, if you got anything wrong, was to get in the pond, happy days! Overall our first Monday back to CTCRM was quite enjoyable and everybody was feeling much better about being back.
From Tuesday onwards we were on Exercise URBAN WARRIOR in the compound just on the outskirts of the bottom field. Here we were to learn everything from room clearance, using the enforcer to bash locked doors open, and detaining prisoners. The first day started with the basics of room clearance and dry drills (with no ammunition), until the instructors felt we were good enough to use simulated paint rounds. The Corporals set up different scenarios within the compound, which we were not to know, which gave the drills a more realistic feel. Getting shot in the compound by the enemy was a real eye opener to how switched on you have to be to survive in that kind of environment. As we practiced more and more we became to understand the term ‘slow is smooth, smooth is fast’ and became more efficient in what we were learning.
On Wednesday night we were given orders from Captain Garman for an unexpected assault on a compound in the region of Bovington. Throughout the night we were on sentry to listen out for the phone call to give us the nod to start our insertion. As it was my turn to go on sentry the phone rang at 0315 and we had to be ready to step off at 0345 with all our kit. My task was to wake all the recruits up, who were very reluctant to get out of bed due to most only having two hours sleep! When we arrived at Bovington we completed an insertion yomp, then finally had the compound in sight and started our pre-planned assault. It felt good putting everything we had learnt into practice and the adrenaline was pumping going into the unknown. Once the assault finished we had another unexpected lecture from the dog handling team from Poole. They showed us how effective the dogs can be when searching compounds for people and the whereabouts of explosives even if they were buried underground. Recruit Key was selected to get into the protective suit for a demonstration on how the dogs are trained to tackle people posing a threat. Key started to run in the opposite direction when he saw the dog charging at him, then the inevitable happened and he was face planted to the ground at full force as the dog jumped on him. Luckily he was wearing a ice hockey mask which took the blow of impact! After a short period to get some scran we completed an extraction yomp. As we yomped on and on some people started to drip with exhaustion, then finally the end was near and we could see Sergeant Floor at the top of a steep hill about 100m long. Motivation picked up and we gave it 100% to conquer the hill climb up ahead. Strangely enough I enjoyed the final hill climb; it felt like proper man phys!
Our final day of the exercise was back in the compound on camp, where we continued with room clearance but with harder scenarios. Some of the rooms had a combination of civilians and enemy in them, and others had civilians which would resist and try to gain the upper hand. We had to use our initiative to perform the correct drills to clear and mark the rooms accordingly.
This was by far the best week in training that I have had so far, and talking to the other recruits they confirmed it was for them too. Receiving orders on Friday night for Monday’s adventure training program sounds like we have another good week to look forward to…happy days.