180 Troop Diary
After last week, when we had Ex BAPTIST RUN, everyone was nervous to find out if they had passed this significant milestone. This was noticeable in some people as they acted differently and most people had areas to work on for this exercise.
I had tried hard in areas where I had previously been deficient but then let myself down in some others. I could/should have worked on ensuring all my personal administration in the field was as good as previous exercises.
During the week we had a lot of lectures to prepare us for the next phase of training. It has been much more interesting, shifting to a more tactical footing. This was what I had envisaged when joining the Royal Marines: tough physical challenges, learning how to attack and how to work the radio.
Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) training was on Thursday. During the week everyone dreaded the session where you have to apply all the lessons in the ‘Respirator Testing Facility’ (small shed filled with CS gas). The build up to this was worse than the actual experience but there were no volunteers for a second visit! Once I completed this I felt a sense of achievement and realised that I had had little to worry myself about.
Our Troop has always been weak at drill. We have been unfortunate to change Drill Instructors through training which hasn’t helped, neither has the fact that the Troop is large with 40 recruits. As a result the Phase 1 Pass Out was a less than perfect display. I did however get the “Warm Fuzzy Feeling” seeing members of the Troop receive hard earned awards before we looked forward to a long weekend.
Week 16 was our first week in Phase 2 and the first hurdle we faced was a signals test on the Bowman 354 which the entire Troop passed with flying colours. From here we then went onto bottom field to conduct some more arduous training. We have now increased to the weight on bottom field to 15lbs and a rifle. After a robust warm up we were briefed by Cpl Buckley (180Tp PTI) that we would have 2 x timed tests of the assault course. If we put in the desired work then the session would finish there, however, if not then this could dramatically change. Memories were still fresh from a tough session the previous Thursday! On the first run through was with all our kit with emphasis on speed between the obstacles. People were surprised how quickly they could move around the assault course with a quickest time of 3:27. The second time around was without weight and therefore much faster. This led to 2 members of the troop moving to the flank and throwing up their breakfast!
Tuesday morning came around and everyone’s spirits were high and looking forward to the first Phase 2 element in Exercise FIRST BASE. When we moved into the exercise we began developing our tactical awareness by setting up a fully tactical harbour including using all the signals equipment we had been trained in. The Section Commanders then put into practice all that we had been taught the previous week in terms of patrolling. This had a combination of Observation Posts, Standing Patrols and Recce (reconnaissance) Patrols.
When we were operating in small patrols we were taught how to move away and break contact from an overwhelming enemy force. This was useful for when conducting smaller patrols such as the recce patrols.
Thursday came round in which the harbour area was engaged by an “Enemy”. The troop then had to move the harbour location after we had fully settled in. This sounds like an easy move but not when everyone is cooking food and on sentry there is a lot of work to do in a small period of time.
The exercise finished with a 5 mile speed march back to camp which some people struggled with but as a whole it was a good bit of exercise for the Troop. Once back at camp we sorted out the bits and pieces required after the exercise and looked forward to a good weekend break.