RECRUIT DIARY WEEKS 22 & 23 – 185 TROOP
1. Weeks 22 and 23 compromised of our Adventurous Training package and Ex VIOLENT ENTRY. Adventurous Training is the military’s version of conducting adventure sports which for us included mountain biking, rock climbing and kayaking. This took place at RM Chivenor where the Commando Logistic Regiment is based, from which we went out Onto Exmoor. We were there for 3 days allowing each section to spend a day on each sport.
2. The mountain biking started with us developing basic skills on local tracks until the instructor was satisfied before heading out onto the moors. At appropriate points we stopped and were given tips on how to perfect our technique and towards the end of the ride we stopped off in Barnstaple for half an hour. The climbing took place in the camp’s gym under a civilian climbing instructor. We learnt how to safely tie ourselves to the rope before starting a series of climbs. When we weren’t climbing we were either belaying our ‘oppos’ or giving them advice on where to but their hands and feet. The third sport, kayaking, involved us learning how to paddle, change direction and most importantly stop before going out into the estuary. We spent the day perfecting these skills along the estuary before having to turn back and return to camp.
3. The first three days definitely provided us with the enjoyment and fun that the troop needed before deploying on Ex VIOLENT ENTRY. On Thursday evening we left camp towards Wales for the start of the exercise. The first 3 days were based on urban operations in Caerwent. The troop manned a forward operating base (FOB) from which they deployed various patrols and checkpoints around the surrounding area. We became familiar with FOB routine and worked on an 8 hour rotation meaning a section would provide FOB protection, another would be the quick reaction force (QRF) and the final section was out patrolling. During this time the FOB came under attack meaning the whole FOB had to ‘stand-to’ and repel the attack whilst the QRF was briefed to go out and either clear the area or conduct a counter attack. The patrolling sections had a multitude of tasks which included establishing night-time vehicle checkpoints tasked to stop and search any vehicles moving around the area. Anyone in possession of suspicious items were detained and brought back to the FOB for questioning. Another task for one of the sections was to establish a temporary checkpoint approximately 500m from the FOB. They came under ‘contact’ and the QRF was ‘crashed’ to assist them by resupplying ammo and providing fire support. Whilst this was going on civilian casualties would appear at the gates of the FOB or intelligence assets arrived providing information on enemy movements and strengths.
4. The final 3 days of the exercise saw the troop move to Sennybridge where we moved towards more conventional tactics. This meant that we had to march across the ground with all our kit and use woodblocks to establish triangular harbours. It was during this phase where we practised fighting in woodblocks and forests (FIWAF) as the troop cleared through parts of the training area. A lot was demanded from us as we moved on foot to a lay-up points before clearing through woodblocks before we could set our harbours up. We were then tasked as sections to carry out recce patrols on a village which was to be our final attack. At first light the attack went in and consisted of us using fire support hidden in woodland and the assaulting sections moving through 4 different buildings. The end of the exercise was called once the final building had been cleared. This brought to an end a hard but rewarding exercise where the troop achieved some high points but also let themselves down on basic drills.
5. On returning to camp we were aware that there were likely to be repercussions for not being ready for the Troop Commander’s orders ahead of the final attack. This came in the form of a mud run the day after we got back. After that experience I doubt the same mistake will be made again!