This week started with adventure training (AT) the troop was split into sections and we travelled to North Devon, RM Chivenor in minibuses. AT would normally consist of sea kayaking, surfing and mountain biking however due to inclement weather we replaced sea kayaking and surfing with coasteering and rock climbing. Each section spent their day on one of the activities, we rotated these over three days so that everyone participated in every area.
AT is challenging and at time rewarding as recruits encourage and support each other through new and adrenaline fuelled experiences. This is also about relaxing, unwinding and team bonding. Rock climbing and coasteering can prove to be a real test of confidence, overcoming a fear of heights and developing new skills.
AT staff made their best efforts to make the days enjoyable, they incorporated games and competitions into the challenges making our experiences fun and exciting. The Corporals also made an effort to make it enjoyable for us by setting up football games at the end of the day enabling us to relax and unwind. They also used the minibuses for ‘Tesco runs’ that allowed us to buy some high energy rewards (sweets and snacks.)
Although AT takes us away from the hardships of training, I feel it comes at the right time in raising morale on the days running up to the dreaded exercise ‘violent entry,’ known on the ‘nod vine’ as one of the hardest exercises in recruit training.
On the Wednesday of our return, 16:00hrs we had a safety brief lecture on the RAF’s Merlin Mark 3 helicopter as the majority of us would be deployed to Wales for Ex violent entry in this which would be a new experience, others would be deployed on the Navy’s Seaking Mark 4. On the Thursday we had a lecture with the Assault Engineers (AE) on (FIBUA) fighting in built up areas and Urban environments. We learnt how to defend a building and use it as hard cover once we had taken it over. From 10am we carried out battle prep and loaded the stores. Later we received orders and a lecture on (FIWAF) fighting in woods and forests from the troop commander. On completion of all this we marched over to top field, camouflaged our faces and waited out for the ‘Helo pickup.’
The Helo arrived around 22:00 and we arrived in the heart of mid South Wales, Sennybridge, near the Brecon Beacons. It was cold and the strong winds made it feel colder. On stepping off the Helo we were straight to work, conducting our battle preparations, bombing up our magazines with ammunition, taking our bergens off the four tonner and setting off on our insertion yomp, a 10km tactical load- carry with full weight, cross country in the dark to occupy our first harbor position. After yomping for 3 hours we quickly realised it was going to be a very physically demanding exercise.
Once we had reached the woodblock we set up harbour and posted the sentries. We were told to be aware that there were week 8 army recruits sharing the same woodblock, they were unaware of our presence due to our light and noise discipline. The following morning we improved our harbour location by setting up shell scrapes, comms cord, and perimetre wire. We later received or warning orders and were told the Charlie fire teams of each section will be carrying out patrols, recces and observation posts where as the Delta fire teams will stand down and defend the harbour location. The next 24 hours were focused on preparations and gathering intelligence for an attack on the enemy held village.
In the early hours of Saturday morning we received orders to attack and take over the enemy village. We set off on a long yomp throughout the night, upon arriving we got in our positions and successfully took over the village. Once inside the buildings we set up sentries and defences, barricading the windows and doors. After a short period the enemy attacked us however, our defences were too great for them and again we won the firefight.
After the attack we yomped to a new woodblock and set up another harbour. This time Charlie fire teams were given the ‘stand down’ and Delta fire teams carried out the Patrols, Recces and observation posts throughout the night whilst ‘Charlie’ defended the harbour location.
Sunday morning Charlie fire team carried out patrols, recces and observation posts on a new wood block that friendly forces had informed us enemy activity had been seen nearby and it is believed that the woodblock was occupied by the enemy forces. Later on that night we received orders to attack and take over the woodblock using what we had learnt on (FIWAF.)