197 TROOP RECRUIT DIARY WEEK 17
1. The start of this week were intended as an introduction to the VIKING all terrain armoured vehicle. This is a highly impressive piece of kit that can get virtually anywhere (including the snow) and also fully amphibious (ie it can swim), but also has a V shaped hull greatly improving the survivability of the occupants in event of a mine strike. Travelling early Monday morning to Bovington barracks we were met by members of the Armoured Support Group (ASG) who would help us to become a lot more familiar with VIKING. The day mainly consisted of PowerPoint lectures, pictures and videos helping us to get an overview of the awesome capabilities. We also had a quick introduction to the shark rebreather, a piece of kit that is used in the event of the VIKING has to ditch while swimming. This was particularly pertinent, as we would be practicing with them the following day in the pool. Once complete we settled into our accommodation for the evening ready to get under way with the practical stuff the following day.
2. Unfortunately (or fortunately for some) we were not able to complete the dunker drills as planned due to the module itself being out of order. However we were still able to do some of the practical drills we the shark rebreather in the pool so with an early start it was into the pool. After some confidence drills in the pool it was kit on and back to the VIKINGs. The rest of the day was dedicated to the various drills for embarking/disembarking and getting us familiar with working with the VIKING. On completion we jumped on the coach to CTCRM. We finished the day with a lecture from our Troop Commander on stability operations and our role within them. This detailed a lot of the current doctrine on operations so while it was a lot to digest helped give an insight into how we will work in future operations.
3. With Exercise SECOND EMPIRE just around the corner the Troop moved to the top fields with the Troop Commander to run through Section and Troop level attacks. For us as potential Royal Marines this is really important as it forms the core offensive nature of soldiering, being able to take the fight to the enemy. Due to the importance of these drills it is vital that every man knows the sequence of events at every level. It was also useful as it started to bring some of the pneumonics we had seared into our memory to life by seeing there application in real life. Step by step as a Troop we went through each stage at every level covering all eventualities. After the practical with our Troop Commander we came together as Sections to talk through further the different types of attacks we had just learnt. The training team were keen for us to show understanding, so we spent some time in our Sections explaining what had been covered earlier.
4. The day started early with us moving back to the gym for RMCC. Admittedly it had been a while since any of us had stepped foot in the gym let alone done any RMCC. After a rapid reintroduction to some of the holds, mounts and chokes that had caused us all discomfort before it was time to move on to striking. Some seemed to strike better than others with the phrase “stop hitting like a girl” thrown around on more than one occasion. Once we had moved through all the ways in which to hammer your opponent it was onto some ‘controlled’ sparring. Inevitably there were a few scrapes and bruises and one nose bleed. However we all really enjoyed it as it gave us a chance to put everything we had practiced to the test, on each other, and a bit of controlled aggression always goes down a treat. Once finished it was onto ambush lectures with the troop sergeant. This again like Section/Troop attacks forms part of our core offensive skill set as soldiers, so understanding and mastering ambushes is a must. The subject itself is very in depth and covers a great deal. But the lecture made it clear as to the principles and stages of ambushes and our role within them. The rest of the day was dedicated to admin in the build up to us leaving for Easter leave the following day with many lads chomping at the bit to get home to family and loved ones.
5. With early morning rounds and a few pick up points that was us out the gates on the freedom train for two weeks to make the most of our Easter leave.
197 TROOP: RECRUIT DIARY WEEK 18
1. After enjoying our fill of Easter eggs and freedom it was back to work. To say we came back with vengeance is an understatement at best. With a warm welcome back to bottom field with the PTI’s first thing Monday morning we were left in no doubt that the screw was being tightened. With a run through of the assault course, ropes and fireman carries we then moved on to a spider circuit, which was just as ominous as it sounds. There was no rest bite upon completion as we moved to Broughton Burrows training area commence Exercise SECOND EMPIRE. Broughton Burrows is an area of sand dunes near Barnstaple in North Devon, this is a particularly challenging environment to train in not only because of the sand, but the 5-10m high dunes mean you are constantly running either up or down hill and every where looks very similar making navigation extremely difficult. On arrival we swiftly erected the Training Teams tent and went straight into Section Attack rehearsals. This then became our focus for the rest of the day. As night descended we moved into our harbour, building on the lessons and knowledge gained from Ex FIRST BASE, which seemed like a life time ago.
2. The day was dedicated to improving on our Section Attack drills this time with a live enemy. This was a real progression from just doing things by numbers, now having a real enemy gave everything that more realistic feel. The serials were split up all over the training area, each one presenting a new situation in which to test our ability to work as a Section. The serials were absolutely hoofing, applying everything we had learned up until now the Corporals giving us bit of guidance as we went through then giving us a full debrief after each one on how we could have done it better so we keep improving. This is the kind of training the Troop relishes and moral was very high as a result. As we finished for the day we rolled into night time recce patrols with each Section having different tasking’s around the training area. The navigation was difficult enough with the confusing and difficult sand dunes of Broughton Burrows but CLAG (Cloud Low Aircraft Grounded) had descended reducing our visibility to five feet or less just to really test us.
3. After our was bumped by the Enemy just before first light day three saw us progressing from Section level attacks to Troop level attacks. We received Troop level orders to conduct and advance to contact to clear out our foe. As we moved along our axis we came under contact (when the enemy shoots at you) from several enemy positions. But applying what we had been taught and under the coordination of our Troop Commander we assaulted and fought through each position eventually clearing the area of enemy. Seeing the mechanics we had learn on the top field before Easter as well as receiving some really useful feed back proved invaluable training to the Troop. After another set of Troop orders we stepped of at last light to conduct an ambush on a known enemy Main Supply Route (MSR). Moving covertly into position we set up ready to strike. As our target vehicle entered the killing area we well and truly overmatch the enemy with a very heavy weight of fire. Achieving our aim we extracted to our new harbour location via the mark one personal carrier (AKA the boot) over the rollercoaster of sand dunes!
4. This day saw each Section conducting patrols out to occupy an OP (observation post) over the final enemy stronghold, as well as rotating through sentry positions in our harbour and updating the model pit with intelligence gathered from each patrol. In the early hours of the morning the Troop moved into position to conduct a final assault on an enemy position. With fire support in place H-Hour saw our simulated mortar stomp rain down on the enemy the Troop then assaulted through the Enemy position (4 concrete landing craft that were used by the americans to practice landing from ready for D-Day). With the enemy conquered and the exercise drawing to a close we did a sweep of everywhere we had been to pick up all the brass casings from the black round we had fried. It was then back to camp for tea and medals, but not before a smally six mile extraction yomp. With the rest of the day was dedicated to de-servicing kit and equipment it wasn’t quite over yet.
5. We finished week as we started on the hallowed ground of the bottom field. The session was not easy but with achy and weary bodies the Troop gave it their all despite there being a rather large amount of fireman carries up hill, which we were assures is all character building.
197 TROOP: RECRUIT TROOP DIARY WEEK 19.
1. Crash week is infamous as a tough week of bottom field phys and we now found our selves jumping straight into it. The purpose of the week is to prepare us for our bottom field pass out the following week; this consists of: one 30ft rope climb, once round the assault course in under 5 mins, a 200m fireman carry in less than 90 seconds and a regain, all with 21 pounds of kit and our weapon. The morning commenced with introductory lessons to the General Purpose Machine Gun (GPMG) that we would be live firing later on in the week. The GPMG is a game changing piece of weaponry at section level as it offers both a superior rate of fire and greater range to suppress the enemy. After our introduction to the GPMG we moved onto our first session of the week on the hallowed turf of the bottom field and the intensity had definitely ramped up from previous weeks with numerous timed runs around the assault and combat conditioning circuits. This set the tempo for the rest of the week.
2. The morning commenced with more progression on the GPMG learning how to start operating the weapon system effectively. This included stripping and assembling the weapon as well as conducting Normal Safety Procedures (NSP’s) on the gun. After this we received a brief lecture on career specialisation from the corps career advisor advising us on specialisation selection. From here it was a quick turnaround and back on the bottom field for another hard session. With multiple fireman carries and best effort runs around the assault course, many in the Troop were starting to feel the wear and tear of the intensity. Upon completion it was back to the grots for some much needed work with the rollers (cylinder of foam that by rolling your muscles across it is a very effective massage) and stretching.
3. The day bought much trepidation as this was a full triple period of bottom field which would test many to the limits as some ‘ooies and owies’ were starting to show and fatigue setting in. With rope climbs and multiple hill sprints to start off, the session never lowered in its intensity. Despite the obvious tiredness many were becoming more efficient in the obstacles than a few weeks ago. The idea of this constant overload is to induce a ‘super-compensation’ effect to increases physical fitness after a short period of recovery. With that in mind the Troop were conscious that by giving their all in these sessions it would pay dividends later. On completion of the triple period it was back to the weapon stances to conduct more training on the GPMG, this time coving loading unloading and rectifying stoppages on the weapon.
4. The morning was devoted to our last intensive periods on the bottom field with us getting stuck straight into a triple bottom field pass out, two with weight and one without. Needless to say by the end of it the troop were all aching a little. This day also saw the culmination of all of our training over the week on the GPMG, in the form of weapon handling tests to prove our competency ready for live firing. The day ended with a lecture on defensive operations by the Troop Commander giving us an insight into the principles of how to conduct such operations. Due a major admin mishap the Troop spent the night pilling all of our kit up in the centre of the grots and then separating it again ready for locker inspections the next morning.
5. With the phys side of crash week completed we moved onto the ranges at straight point to fire the GPMG’s for the first time. The weapon fires a larger calibre round than our personal weapons so has a lot more of a bang to it and the Troop really got stuck into firing it. The shoot gave us an idea of the capability of the weapon and what was required to fire it effectively. Due to a transport delay we even managed to fit in a few troop gun relays to see who had really got to grip with the skills and drills required to be an effective gunner. With the end of the week the Troop looked forward to restful weekend of ‘eat, sleep, scran, repeat’ to prep themselves for bottom field pass out first thing Monday morning.