215 Troop Week 6
For the most part Week 6 fairly steady, if such a thing is possible at CTC. Filled with a variety of PT sessions from long runs to IMF and with the most intense swimming relay in Corps history, Week 6 did not disappoint.
The majority of the week was taken up with map reading lectures to assist 215 Troop with navigational techniques. All skills taught throughout the week were new to most and the learning curve was quite steep, but thanks to some hands on practice everyone managed to grasp the concept. The addition of all the team being on hand to aid us during the lectures certainly helped the Nav ‘biffs’ amongst us who – for no known reason – could not get their heads around the gird magnetic angle issue.
The main event of the week was our first experience of live firing. This was delivered via the training team and the Combat Marksmanship Team. The end result was a great experience and a best grouping size of 11mm. Although only at 25m this was still fairly impressive. Any errors or mistakes were rewarded with a brief refresher taking in the scenes of Straight Point Ranges.
Overall, a great week that prepared us for the upcoming Exercise MARSHAL STAR.
215 TROOP: RECRUIT DIARY – WEEK 07-08
- After much frantic preparation and last minute purchases of kit over the course of the weekend, come Monday 215 Troop were ready and eager to commence on Exercise Marshall Star. In this exercise our existing knowledge of field craft would be put to the test as well as doing our first night navigation exercise. We learnt a whole host of new skills with information as well.
- Once we deployed into Woodbury Common Training Area and the harbour (base) area was established, so commenced our first navigation lectures in preparation for the night navigation exercise to take place later that evening. The Troop listened attentively however despite our best efforts only 14 recruits completed the ‘Nav’ within the set time frame. A couple of less fortunate recruits among us even having to conduct the lost procedure, setting our bearing West and waiting sheepishly on the metal road to be retrieved by the training team.
- The Troop was lucky enough to get a basic introduction to celestial navigation techniques. We found this particularly fascinating and surprisingly easy to grasp once a solid understanding of the fundamental techniques were achieved.
- After a few brief hours of sleep and a particularly chilly sentry routine; the Troop set out their kit musters ready for inspection. With those not quite meeting the required standard given a few remedial press ups as encouragement for better performances in the future. Following this we had our first field PT session. Although tough this was a welcome change from the strict requirements and constraints of being in the gym.
- Over the next two days and nights we continued to expand and enhance our field craft knowledge and navigation proficiency. This involved lectures and practical lessons in target indication, pacing’s, methods of judging distance and fire control orders to name but a few. Two particular highlights were our first stalk and use of the emergency rendezvous (ERV). After executing our camouflage and concealment to the best of our ability we made our best attempt at closing the training team over 400m of undulating terrain and the engaging them with two blank shots, while remaining covert and concealed. By no means an easy feat! However one of the recruits in particular shone by successfully releasing two shots and remaining undetected from the training teams hawk like gaze.
- Come the final night of the exercise we were treated to our first Troop ERV. Role on 0400 and at the Troop Commander’s call we were submerged into a conundrum of speedily stashed tent pegs and hastily top flapped day sacks in our very best attempt to fully vacate the harbour position and reach the ERV location within the allocated time.
- Preceding a reasonably weighted five mile extraction march back to camp and the standard obligatory fireman’s carries at the end of which to prove our battle readiness, Ex Marshal Star was complete.
- Come Friday the Troop completed their battle swimming test (BST) and despite limbs aching and tired heads the majority of the Troop accomplished this test with minimal struggle. All in all another challenging week completed and the Troop moves one more step closer to achieving their goal of gaining the ever coveted Green Beret!
215 TROOP: RECRUIT DIARY – WEEK 08-09
- It was the run up to Christmas but there was no let-up for 215 Troop. Throughout the week we were working hard in the gym, taking in first aid lectures and perfecting our marching on the parade ground, ready for interval drill pass out. On top of this we spent a day with the Mountain Leaders (ML) learning basic survival skills. Moreover, the week culminated with the Company Commanders rounds, so the accommodation had to be spotless!
- Our gym sessions were slightly different this week, and welcomed, returning to the strict IMF format we were confidant with. All sessions included numerous rotations, usually involving multiple rope climbs and camp circuits. Towards the end of the week we were conducting even more sprints than usual, in preparation for our GYM pass out after Christmas leave.
- With Exercise Hunters Moon looming we spent a vital day with the Mountain Leaders soaking up as much of their survival expertise as possible. The Troop was determined not to fall asleep as there was river nearby which the ML’s assured us would wake us up quickly. Nevertheless, no one snoozed off and we learnt a load of important skills, from building shelters and setting up traps to navigation using the stars.
- On the parade ground the Troop was working hard preparing for interval drill pass out. Our original DL had been drafted and his replacement was just as strict! We worked hard throughout his sessions and he seems content with his new troop. Drill seems to be the one thing this Troop is confidant at so we were looking forward to smashing the pass out. Having fine-tuned our left and right turns for what seemed like an eternity, the Troop was ready and promptly smashed the pass out. This was one of the highest morale points so far in training.
- With the Company Commanders inspection at the end of the week the accommodation had to be perfect. However, there was no denying the Troop had relaxed a bit too much the night before. The training team had already recognised our slip in standards and motivated us in the right direction, ready for a night of cleaning. The training team’s methods worked a treat and the grots were spankers (gleaming) the next day ready for rounds on the Friday. The rounds had mixed results, with mostly positive feedback. Our military knowledge was one of the best the Company Commander had seen, however, our standing and manner was one of the worst (something to work on for next time).
- We had passed the inspection and we made our way up to Woodbury Common Training Area for a basic navigation exercise. On the return journey the troop was in good spirits as Christmas leave was just around the corner. Soon the Troop was lined up outside the grots and marching to the bus. Morale was now sky high and the Christmas tunes were blaring out.
215 TROOP: RECRUIT DIARY – WEEK 09-10
- Having enjoyed a fortnight of Christmas leave the troop were ready to come back and start week 9 of Commando Training adequately nicknamed “Test Week”, However some recruits where more prepared than others.
- Monday began with a Basic Fitness Test (BFT), which gave more than a few recruits’ butterflies in their stomachs before hand. The test consists of a 3-mile run in boots; with the score included in your Gym Pass Out results at the end of the week.
- If we weren’t in the gym preparing for the pass out we could be found in the classroom, revising and honing our battle first aid skills as well as basic life support skills. These skills are essential and another string to our already Toppers bows. This week also saw us take a navigation test as well as a weapon-handling test on the Light Support Weapon. Both tests were not difficult, as we have been “drilled” to death on both navigation and weapon handling.
- Before we knew it the week was coming to an end and Gym Pass Out was upon us, something that at the beginning of training seemed a lifetime away. After the troop passed we felt a massive sense of achievement as we felt this was our first real test, and so we had to perform.
- The weekend was short-lived, as the realisation that Hunters Moon was fast approaching had sunk in, but with a long weekend to look forward to on completion we were in high hopes.
215 TROOP: RECRUIT DIARY – WEEK 10-11
- Monday morning arrived, a particularly difficult one getting out of bed, as having looked at the weather forecast we knew it would be the last time we were warm and dry for a while. We soon had the SV loaded and were off on Exercise HUNTERS MOON. The journey out was for most their first look at Dartmoor. The sun was shining over the Tors and it almost looked like a pleasant day. We arrived in Prince Town and began our yomp (hike) to the scout hut where we set up our non tactical harbour (base) for the night. Our first night navigation exercise was later on that evening, so once scran (food) was dealt with we planned our route cards and were ready to set off. For most of the Troop, this was the first proper test of their navigational skills. It soon became apparent how much you had to trust your bearings and paces due to the lack of features and visibility at night on Dartmoor.
- A few little mistakes on the first night, but most groups got round the course, with only a couple having to head north to the safety vehicle! After the evenings navigation exercise we went back to the harbour for the rest of the night, with a reminder before bed of where we were and what we were trying to achieve. (Don’t leave kit loose!).
- Day two started with a rather fresh morning routine and kit muster, with a few inevitable runs up the tor to re-warm ourselves. The rest of the day was spent in sections, with our Corporals fixing any navigation issues we had from the previous night; a good exercise to be able to hone our skills in the day, giving the recruits more confidence at night.
- We then prepped for our second night navigational exercise, and set off later that evening, this time in pairs rather than fire teams. Again, most pairs got round the course and in good time too. On completion, and after a short brief on what we were there to achieve, we managed to get our heads down.
- Day three started with a static map stance practice, followed by a stalking exercise, with some recruits managing to take a few shots at the Corporals! We then got ready to move for a night yomp to the survival stage of the exercise. For most this was the first time carrying their bergans (packs) over a distance. We met the SVs (trucks) in Prince Town and were taken to the second stage of the yomp. We were dropped off on the side of the road as it got dark, with a sense of dislocation of expectation, as we had no idea how far or for how long we were going to yomp for. We carried on into the early hours, with one recruit dropping out from injury, and a few wobbling bottom lips we made it.
- Day four and the survival phase of the exercise began. We were searched for any contraband and then taken to the location of the survival phase. We made our shelters, with the Mountain Leaders having a look in on our progress (bad news for some!). We then had our continuation lectures on combat survival, which the chickens did not enjoy, and then headed off to our shelters for the night. With a fire going and a chance to take the boots off and warm the feet, things didn’t seem too bad. That evening everyone found out how well they had built their shelters when it started to snow! Before we knew it, it was morning.
- Straight into our extraction yomp, with the uncertainty of how far was left on everyone’s mind. Fortunately, the pick up location didn’t get “changed” too many times! It was then on the transport back to CTC. Everyone tired and little battered and bruised, but with a huge sense of achievement that we had completed Exercise HUNTERS MOON.
215 TROOP: RECRUIT DIARY – WEEK 11
- 215 Troop have spent this week at Straight Point Ranges, more specifically the ETR (electronic target range). For the most part the weather this week has been on our side and as a troop we have been able to complete all of the shoots required of us to pass the criteria annual combat marksmanship test (ACMT). On Monday however the weather was not on our side and we had to use the Dismounted Close Combat Trainer (DCCT) which is a simulated version of the outdoor range. This gave the Troop time to be coached by the Combat Marksmanship Team and our Troop Corporals both of which have a vast amount of knowledge and experience. This extra time spent on the DCCT improved our shooting because we were coached on how to improve our firing positions and make them more rigid and better at absorbing the recoil of the shot.
- The rest of the week was spent on the ETR preparing for our ACMT on Friday. We did multiple shoots each day which included 100m, 200m and 300m, these consisted of firing from various positions such as the prone, kneeling supported and standing supported to name but a few. Once a shoot was passed we were to ensure our rifles were ready for the next time we were called to shoot, we also had to ensure that all of the different firing positions we would be firing in were as comfortable and natural as possible but all effective at absorbing the recoil of the rifle. We built up our positions the way we had been taught and started relaxing into the positions; this improves your ability to get into the different positions quickly and effectively because your muscles have the memory of holding the position.
- On Tuesday morning we had a brief introduction to what bottom field will entail, we enjoyed this period of bottom field style exercise because it included fireman’s carries, hill sprints and rope climbs with weighted webbing. We went on a run on a crisp Wednesday morning with one of the Troop Corporals, who told us once you reach a unit you’d be participating in activities like this daily. Upon finishing the run we all took a dip in the sea to cool off, the Troop Corporal leading the way. This was welcomed by most of the lads but a few were reluctant to take their trainers off and join us in the sea.
- Next week we continue shooting which will include shoots involving night vision and infrared lasers which should be challenging but highly enjoyable.