After a brief recovery from the much enjoyed or rather endures dig Ex, 198 Tp looked forward to a week of developing a range of new skills and drills in Close Quarter Battle (CQB) on Ex Urban Warrior.
After an early start on Monday, with the Troop being bolstered by some Royal Marine Reservists, we embarked on learning the basic skills of entering and clearing rooms which was an exciting change from the green skills we had learnt so far. Over the next couple of days we further developed our Initiative Based Tactics (IBT) with run- throughs of clearing the CQB complex at CTCRM, utilising speed and controlled aggression. We also had lectures from the Assault Engineers on forced methods of entry (MOE).
We now moved onto te next stage of CQB training, putting what we had learnt into practice using simunition, essentially paintball on steroids. This brings a whole new reality to training as it brings home the notion of taking casualties and it was amazing to see how the Troop’s drills changed when there is a threat of taking a paint round.
After a few days of training, we moved to 40 Cdo on Thurs eve to assault their Afghan Village to culminate the week. Under darkness we occupied a lying up point (LUP) in a building on the camp and conducted recce patrols onto the objective. Just before first light, the Tp received orders and stepped off to begin the assault, claring through numerous buildings and compounds. Once the compound was clear, 2 Sea Kings flew in to pick us up and bring us back to CTC. Spending Fri morning flying over the rush hour traffic at 200ft is a definite reminder of the perks of the job.
Overall week 21 has been, in my opinion, one of the best weeks in training. I only wish it could have been longer in order to develop the vast array of complex skills we have learnt. It has taught me the importance of following the correct drills and procedures as well as using your own initiative to ensure the success of operations. Ex Urban Warrior is definitely one to look forward to.
Monday morning of week 22 had arrived as we prepared to deploy on Ex Violent Entry. It was with a certain degree of trepidation that the Troop loaded stores and packed kit, we knew this was going to be our longest and hardest exercise to date. Being a Section 2i/c, the battle prep for an exercise is hectic, having to issue out serialised kit such as NVGs and LLMs to the Section as well as looking after your own personal kit. We then received orders for the assault that evening and after a final cooked meal, we boarded transport to Wales.
On arrival at Caerwent training area, we launched straight into an assault on a building which we subsequently occupied as a Forward Operating Base (FOB). This was the first time we had the opportunity to utilise the General Purpose Machine Gun (GPMG) in order to suppress the enemy on the objective. From our FOB we conducted Counter Insurgency (COIN) operations including regular patrols and Vehicle Check Points (VCPs) which require a degree of flexibility when dealing with civilians as well as enemy forces. After a final street clearance, we then moved to Sennybridge Training Area for the second phase of the exercise.
On arrival, we set off on a yomp across the area before conducting fighting in woods and forest (FIWAF) operation. On completion we had a quick turn around before again yomping through the night, made even better with some terrible weather and visibility down to a few metres. The following day set the tone for the next few days of the exercise; Recce patrols during the day, troop attacks at last light and yomping through the night in order to simulate the kind of battle rhythm that generates momentum and keeps the enemy on the back foot. This highlights the need for your admin to be squared away as you cannot rest until you have cleaned your rifle, looked after your kit and fed and watered yourself.
As Saturday came around, we prepared for a final attack onto a village at dawn. This was a culmination of all the skills we have learnt so far in training. Following the attack, we had a quick extraction yomp to meet the coach to take us back to camp. After a week in the field it felt like the 3 hour journey home only lasted about 5 mins. There was a sense of relief as we finished the exercise and now look forward to a few weeks on camp before deploying on our final exercise.
Week 23 consisted of Resource and Initiative (R and I) Training and going back to Bovington to conduct our Viking Underwater Escape Training (VUET).
The R and I training was based out of Okehampton camp on Dartmoor and involved either Mountain Biking, Kayaking or Sea level traversing. In the evenings we were given briefs about the activities and had to plan routes for the following day and find out certain bits of information such as tide times, something which is easier said than done in the 3G hotspot on Dartmoor! Personally my favourite activity was the mountain biking, but this was more to do with watching the numerous crashes by the rest of the Troop. The sea level traversing essentially involved rock climbing and jumping off cliffs into the sea. Some Recruits did better at this than others, and of course the Training Team faced the challenged with the usual non-emotion.
This has been an excellent week of training and shows that life in the Corps isn’t all aout getting thrashed and being tired. Having a taste of the Adventure Training options that will be open to us when we pass out is a nice little boost to get through the upcoming final weeks of training.
Following a relaxing long weekend at home it was back to work for 198 Troop. The week began with a 6 mile run. There was a sense of nervousness among the Troop as this would be the route we would have to run in two weeks time, wearing 21 lbs of kit and a rifle in order to pass into the Commando Course and earn the right to wear a Cap Comforter, as worn by Commandos since the Second World War.
Over the next two days we were introduced to two of the Commando tests; the Endurance Course and the Tarzan Assault Course. The Endurance acquaint was up first, allowing the Troop to have an insight into the various obstacles including the Sheep dip before running back to camp. The 2 mile course and 4 mile run back has to be completed in under 73 minutes but crucially, you have to take care of your weapon through al of the mud and grit in order that you can shoot at least 6 out of 10 shots on target on completion. On Wednesday we were acquainted with the Commando slide and 30 foot wall, two crucial elements of the Tarzan course. These obstacles certainly test your confidence at height; safety ropes are not found on the Tarzan.
The final push of the week was the 12 mile load carry, to be completed carrying 69lbs of kit plus a rifle. After an early start, the entire Troop completed the march and on return to camp we were met by the immaculately presented King’s Squad who had just passed out of training. It filled the Troop with pride that in a mere 8 weeks it would be us stood there in our Blues in front of our families having earned the coveted Green Beret.