204 Training Diary
Week 14 started of with a double session of bottom field with the main objective to prepare us for next Monday’s bottom field assessment. Judging from the feedback of our PTI everyone in the troop is looking at getting good results in the assessment. We then had a CBRN lecture discussing the different protective dress categories in certain situations.
Tuesday was a day of signals lectures and discussing how to communicate over the Personal Role Radios (PRRs). Towards the end of the lesson we all had a go at using the PRRs and had a good laugh. On Wednesday morning we completed a 4 mile speed march with 21 pounds and a rifle. The majority of the troop were happy with how it went and all but one lad passed, unfortunately it was found he had an infection in his lungs. This brought the troop number down to 23. Straight after finishing the speed march the troop prepared for Baptist Run, a criteria exercise assessing all key skills learnt over phase. The exercise is essential to compete if we are to move into phase 2 of training. Once we unloaded all the stores from the 4 tonne truck and set up team base we cracked on with the first part of exercise – completing a map stance, stalk and an individual night navigation exercise.
The next day was a repeat of the Wednesday but this time we had a field kit muster in the morning before going through our tests on fire control orders, target indication and observation. Most found the 2nd map stance more challenging than the previous day. The night navigation was definitely a lot more difficult due to the distances between checkpoints and also the checkpoints weren’t in such prominent locations as day one. We were given an extra 30 minutes to complete the exercise to compensate for the extra distance.
The last day of the exercise was a wet one with the weather not giving in from the moment we woke up. The field kit muster was a lot harder to perfect in the rain and especially trying to keep our rifles dry and rust free for inspection. After the kit musters were complete we went through a final round of tests on observation, fire control orders and target indication. Once we had finished packing up team stores our PTI arrived to take us for our Combat Fitness Test (CFT). A CFT is a annual fitness test completed by all infantry soldiers to prove they are combat effective and able to carry equipment over a distance. The test is 8 miles done in under 2 hours (15 minute miles) with 45 pounds of equipment along with a rifle. Everyone was successful and found it a lot easier than the Baptist Walk CFT which we were thankful was harder because it prepared us adequately.
The troop had a late one Friday spending all night de-servicing our rifles and kit to a top standard ahead of Saturday morning’s final field kit inspection to bring an end to Baptist Run. This was the final hurdle before finding out if the training team were willing to take us into phase 2. After the inspection we had a short swim session and were pleased to be thinned out for the weekend after that final detail. There was no surprise to see every member of the troop in bed at midday getting toppers head down after a busy week.
Monday morning of week 15 brought a great deal of apprehension to the troop as we were still unaware who, if any, we’re leaving the troop after Baptist Run. This feeling wasn’t helped when we returned from our CBRN lecture to find bread baskets in five beds (used to transfer your kit to Hunter Company after a Baptist Run failure). Unfortunately, one of the five had failed and had to leave us, but the rest of the troop would remain intact moving into Phase 2! The rest of the week would see us remain on camp. The activities included Signals training, a CBRN decontamination test, drill and our first tactical doctrine lectures from our Troop Commander. The drill sessions were to prepare us for our Arms Drill pass out on the Friday before we formerly passed out of Phase 1 in front of the Company Commander (OC).
The troop performed well enough to receive a high pass in the drill pass out with a few mistakes costing us a higher mark. Immediately following, we paraded in front of the OC who awarded the lucky few who achieved awards [PT Superior; Marksman; I/C tapes; and overall best recruit for Phase 1 awards] and formerly moved us into Phase 2. We look forward to the first tactical exercise next week with our slightly bigger troop (26) before Summer Leave.
At the start of week 16, following our Phase 1 pass out, we deployed on Exercise First Base. The aim of the exercise was to teach us new tactical skills such as observation posts, recce patrols and basic patrolling. We would also be required to work on all of the skills we had learnt in phase 1. The start of the exercise began with a Merlin helicopter insertion into the training area at Woodbury Common. The ride was a new experience for all the recruits and allowed us to put the knowledge we had gained during our short visit to RNAS Yeovilton a few weeks ago into action.
The exercise is designed to make us think tactically and all of our movements across any ground had to be deliberate and carefully planned. This was also the first exercise that we had been issued radios which allowed the entire troop to communicate effectively after a bit of practice. From arriving at our training area we started a few lectures on patrolling before we received some demonstrations on breaking contact with the enemy in various formations. We also had to make models to allow detailed orders to be given. We conducted several night recce patrols up to enemy guarded locations to try and gain as much information and intelligence on the location and surrounding personnel as possible. Another aspect of the exercise was to set up a static OP (Observation Post) and try to gain any information of any enemy activity in the area. This involved digging for around 8 hours and then camouflaging our position as well as setting up a sentry position. During the next morning our OP was contacted by the enemy who had discovered our positions. We returned fire until the fire fight was over. We then collapsed our OP, making it look like we had never been in the area. From the OP we hastily returned to the Troop HQ to collapse the team base. Once that had been completed we conducted a five mile Speed March back to camp before de-servicing all our kit. The following day we were secured for summer leave.