197 TROOP: RECRUIT DIARY – WEEK 7
1. With the start of Exercise MARSHAL STAR many of the Troop were eager to put into practice the new skills and drills that we had learnt, particularly our navigational skills. After setting up, we could quickly tell that things were progressing; practicing how to occupy our harbour position tactically. Once the sun had gone down this was then followed by a demonstration of how far noise and light travel at night. It was really quite surprising to see just how far away obvious noises can be heard from. After this demo we then had to apply strict noise and light discipline while in the harbour, so we could no longer use our head torches to find our stuff, this really brought home the importance of knowing exactly where each item of kit was packed within out kit, enabling us to find it easily in the dark. After setting up our ponchos it was time for some head down and of course a bit of sentry duty.
2. A new day brought with it a new weather state, in the form of intermittent heavy rain and wind. This meant the morning’s kit inspection was more challenging to get sorted, but also that we spent a lot of the day taking our Gortex on and off again. Most of the day was devoted to static navigation, learning how to work out where we were by relating the features on the ground to those on the map, some found this a lot easier than others. We also had lessons in target indication and fire control orders, all very useful and important skills. After the sun had gone down we set off on a night navigation practical lead by our Section Corporals, teaching us the skills for navigation at night and the importance of trusting our compasses.
3. The day started with a lesson on how to cross various obstacles tactically. This was then followed by a teach and then practical in stalking. This is essentially being able to hunt and eliminate an enemy covertly but is also really good fun. The practical required us to get into a position where we could take two aimed shots at the troop sergeant, himself a Royal Marines sniper, without being detected. Many of the Troop still need a little more practice at this skill, being detected before they were able to fire a shot. Others though have shown some initial skills in this area. After a change to warm up and with some hot scran down us, we then moved into the night’s evolution. Firstly this was a demonstration on how to quickly pack our kit away if a harbour position became compromised and we had to hastily move out of it, this got us wondering what the training team had in store for us. However before we could let this sink in it was time to see how good our navigation really was, having to get around three checkpoints at night in fire teams (groups of 4-5) with each man leading a different leg. In the main, despite some testing weather this went well, although some learnt the hard way the challenges of avoiding bogs and streams at night.
4. Thursday started with an early wakeup call, in the form of our harbour being attacked (by the training team) and then having to be hastily moved, rather conveniently, to the location for the morning’s kit inspection. This complete we packed our kit away and yomped the 4 miles back to CTCRM, although a double phys session still awaited us that afternoon. This ensured that we were well and truly ready for our beds once we had finished de-servicing our kit.
5. Friday started and ended with yet more phys, broken up by further first aid training and a swim that worked wonders to loosen our stiff muscles. The troop all thoroughly in need of this as we are all feeling quite sore after a challenging week.