Week 18 heralded the start of Exercise SECOND EMPIRE, the first tactical exercise of Phase 2. The Troop, now down to 25 men, awoke Monday morning feeling somewhat anxious about what lay ahead. A Merlin ‘Helo’(helicopter) lift out to Braunton Burrows awaited us on the top field and we were soon underway to prove ourselves in a more tactical setting.
Braunton Burrows is a Training Area composed mainly of sand dunes, quite a bit different to the Training Area on Woodbury that we have become used to . It’s amazing how sand gets everywhere- kit and equipment care becomes evermore apparent.
The week focussed on learning about Troop and Section attacks at a more advanced level. We soon learned that aggression is the key to success in both of these and it was good to get feedback on how to improve our performance from the Corporals.
The days were long, with lots of blank rounds passing through our rifles. We were blessed with surprisingly good weather and the Sections gelled well as ‘fire and manoeuvre’ became more familiar.
We got bumped most nights with the ‘enemy’ advancing over the hills with AK-47’s. This was the Troops first experience of this in training so we were a bit ropey to start with. By the end of the week, however, it felt like we had started to understand it and it was quite enjoyable responding to the ever bold enemy.
Thursday was the final Troop attack. 3 sections set off and each was given their role for the action- we had an ‘Assault’, ‘Fire- Support’ and ‘Reserve’ Section. Good aggression was shown by the Troop and it felt quite life-like with the Troop Commander leading us in.
All went well – we won the fire- fight and swiftly overcame the enemy. With some good feedback from the Training Team, we felt the weeks training had paid off.
After another ‘Helo’ lift to Woodbury, we finished on Friday with a 6 mile yomp back to camp. All 25 lads made it in to the finish in good time with a bit of a cheeky pace set!
We arrived back at camp to some ‘Remedial Training’ because of simple mistakes made by the Troop throughout the week. This won’t be happening again on the next Exercise, particularly as they are now getting ever more important.