It was the Monday of week 22, our surf boards were packed and the Troop was ready to head off for our Adventure Training (AT) package at Royal Marines Chivenor.
Over the three days of  Resource and Initiative Training we got to carry out a range of activities in Section groups. Day 1 for my Section entailed surfing, mountain biking and sea kayaking. The weather was quite bracing for surfing but we were fully kitted out (minus the Troop Sergeant, who quickly regretted not bringing gloves, resulting in pink swollen hands). Morale was boosted when we found out that we could pre-order our food supplies for lunchtime up in the beach cafe. Everyone had a good laugh with the surfing and secretly liked being thrown to the sea bed by the bigger waves (nothing to do with the fact we couldn’t surf them of course!)
Mountain biking proved to be not quite as simple as first thought, particularly for those more challenged on the balance front. It wasn’t long after setting off that we hit our first cheeky hill and then another and another. We quickly realised that some serious quad muscles were required for this serial. The technically challenging downhill’s led to some of us being forced off our bikes, both voluntarily and involuntarily. The views were amazing and the lunch stop was very picturesque.
Sea kayaking, balance also being a necessity, made for more amusing antics. After a good couple of hours with kayaks going round in circles, being extremely wobbly and people blaming each other, we all got to grips with the paddling and steering before stopping for a much needed fish and chips lunch. It wouldn’t be Royal Marines Recruit training if there wasn’t some chance of us all getting wet, so it was decided we would race across each other kayaks in pairs trying to push the other in to achieve an all inclusive soaking.
Tuesday started with a 6am run for 4 miles around the airfield before commencing the days activity. The surf was poor so coasteering was substituted in as the new activity. It quickly became apparent who the lads are who are going to struggle with operating at heights on the Tarzan assault course! The day finished with a curry and TV down at the AT building with the instructors.
We finished with a packed half day of activities on Wednesday. We all had our own stories to tell from the experience of the past few days; lads walking around like Cowboys after bumpy mountain biking rides, a seal climbing on a kayak in an attempt to capsize its occupant, several ‘near drowning’ experiences with surfboards flying everywhere and one Recruit wiping out the legs of the Troop Sergeant in a surf board crash (whilst said Sgt was surfing the wave like a ‘Pro’ -so he says!).
Everyone fully enjoyed the AT package and the break from everyday recruit training was appreciated by the whole Troop. The instructors were all extremely relaxed, knowledgeable and approachable- making AT a great few days of training and a real highlight in what we have experienced so far.
Then it was Thursday… the day that everyone was anxiously awaiting. It heralded the start of the much anticipated Exercise VIOLENT ENTRY. An infamous exercise in the Recruit calendar, a milestone, the longest we would spend in the field so far and on unforgiving Senneybridge terrain. All we knew to expect was a decent amount of ‘yomping’ and chance to apply the Modern Urban Combat (MUC) skills that we had practiced on Exercise URBAN WARRIOR. We began with an anxious coach journey Thursday evening. From the coach stopping to us being fully good to go, kitted out with full scale ammunition, night optics and rations can’t have been much more than 15 minutes. We were soon stood with bergans on ready for the ‘insertion yomp’.
The load was the heaviest we had carried and the sky looked the least promising so far. The woodblocks were pitch black and the terrain was the difficult to move across. The ‘yomp’ was a cheeky start to the exercise, lasting a good four hours before reaching our harbour.
Day two of the exercise included ‘Recce patrols’ onto a small, specially designed FIBUA (Fighting In Built Up Areas) village. After information was gathered we set out for our Troop attack. We worked in our Sections, rotating as Assault, Fire support and Reserves as each of the buildings was cleared one by one. The atmosphere during the attack felt realistic and the lads couldn’t get enough of the attack. It was good to receive some positive feedback on our performance and now the houses were ours to keep and defend!
After spending the night building up our defences on our new homes the quality was put to the test the following morning- some houses were successfully breached but others remained secure.
The next few days were spent under the ‘hard cover’ of the buildings; conducting patrols and vehicle checkpoints around the village to secure the area and force the enemy out. After many a patrol, several attacks on the village and lots of conversations with civilians it was time to take the fight to the enemy. We conducted a well planned Troop attack to a known enemy location that night.
It was soon time to leave the village so we could hand it back to the civilians living there. Now it was back into harbour routines and yomping. The yomp from the village to the harbour location was one of the hardest yet, purely because of the terrain being so unforgiving and marshy- A complete nightmare with a full Bergen on!
The penultimate day to the exercise was spent yomping across Sennybridgein  as Sections. Again, this was challenging due to the weight of our Bergen’s,and the distance travelled over the undulating ground. After many painful hours the serial finished with a Section attack to check whether we were still capable of soldiering at the end.
The end was in sight, but not before one last attack on a new enemy location. A Section performed a night ‘recce’ prior to the Troop departing for the attack in the middle of the night.
The Troop again set off with all their kit to move closer to the new target area. After sliding down muddy hills, wading through marsh, falling over undulating ground, swimming through streams and crawling through tunnels we made it to the location. The Troop carried out their final assault on the enemy with Sections rotating between being the ‘assault’, ‘fire support’ and ‘reserve’ roles. This came to an end, obviously with another 194 win!
The completion of Exercise VIOLENT ENTRY was a massive milestone in training. Unfortunately not all the troop were successful in passing the exercise, but for the lads who did it offered a good sense of achievement with the finish line getting ever so slightly closer. Definitely time for Easter leave!