This week in training was mainly preparing the troop for phase one pass out Exercise Baptist Run. 226 Troop would deploy on exercise Baptist Walk which is a one day exercise to give the troop a feel for what Baptist Run would be like.
On the Monday, the troop would conduct their first ever real CBRN training whilst on camp. This consisted of the troop getting into four romeo, which means getting into the correct CBRN rig and also wearing the rig correctly. The troop was shown how to do this outside the gas chamber by the corporal who would conduct the training evolution. Once the troop was in four romeo, we were led into the chamber in groups of four, we were then told to run around the chamber with our respirators on to build up a sweat within the respirators. We were then told to line up in our group of four and told to take off our hoods and loosen our respirators. We were all excited yet a little apprehensive to get gassed as we had heard mixed reviews from fellow recruits. We could feel the effects of the CS gas even before we took the respirators off as it started to burn the back of our necks. We then proceeded to take our respirators off and had to take a large breath in, we would then state our name, service number and troop to the corporal, all whilst inhaling the CS gas. The effects were immediate with a lot of recruits unable to talk or see as it burnt the eyes and stopped you from breathing properly. It was an uncomfortable feeling to have because your eyes were burning and rubbing them only made it worse. After the troop got gassed, we had a lecture on the effects of all the different types of CBRN weapons that could be used against us in a conflict. This was a good insight into what to expect if there ever was a gas attack. The evening of Monday was used to pack for the field ensuring that we had everything we would need to conduct ourselves in the field. We had a pre field kit muster before Baptist Walk which is exactly how it will be conducted on Baptist Run. The troop on a whole didn’t impress the training team as a few recruits were deficient kit. Once the kit muster had been conducted we returned to the accommodation to get our heads down before deploying on Exercise Baptist Walk the following day.
Tuesday started with the usual pre field routine of packing the store vehicle and making sure that everyone and everything was in place to go into the field. The exercise was to be conducted on Woodbury common which is where lots of exercises during training are carried out. Baptist walk is a scaled down version of Baptist Run which consists of map stances, stalks, fire control orders, target indication, observation and navigation. We started by setting up the team tent and moving our bergens into the harbour location. We then moved to the static map stance where we conducted a mock test of what it will be like on Baptist Run. This was more difficult than the other map tests that we have done in the past as there weren’t many features in front of us to plot a resection from. Most of the recruits were okay with the resection once they had found a prominent feature to take a bearing too. The troop felt like they performed well on the map stance but this wasn’t to be as the majority of the recruits failed by only one or two points. Once the map stance was complete, we moved to the stalk where we had fifteen minutes to cam up and try to score as many points before the stalk started. The stalk was tough due to the amount of gauze bush we had to crawl through. Overall the stalk could have gone better for some of the recruits within the troop. Some recruits got within two metres of the score box before being caught by the observers. The troop moved to the fire control orders (FCO) location next and conducted a test. The troop on a whole performed well on this.. We then moved onto target indication which on a whole went well for the troop. This boosted our confidence in preparation for Baptist Run as we were able to conduct the TI’s properly and to the correct standard. Observation was the next test which was good as we had not done many of these throughout training so it was beneficial for us to train our eye as to what to look out for. Once these stances were complete we had to create a route card and then carry out a night navigation. This went well for the majority of recruits but one recruit went missing and ended up walking twenty kilometres before returning to the team tent. Search parties were sent out to look for the missing recruit but he seemed to miss them all and walked into the team harbour well into the early hours of the morning.
Wednesday was the final day of Baptist Walk, after collapsing the team tent and stowing away all the stores, we then conducted an 8 mile load carry with 50lb back to camp. This is similar to the CFT that will be conducted on Baptist Run so it was a good insight as to what to expect on the walk back to camp. We all felt strong on the load carry which also boosted our confidence ahead of Baptist Run. Once we were back on camp we had a whole afternoon of grenade training before going to the ranges the following day. This got the troop excited ahead of a potentially enjoyable day at the grenade ranges.
Thursday was filled with full of excitement as the troop knew that we would get the chance to throw a live grenade for the first time. After many safety briefs from the training team, the troop eventually threw their first grenade and it was a shock to the system to hear and feel the power of the grenade.
Friday was a revision session on Woodbury Common of everything that was extremely beneficial for most of the lads who struggled with map reading and the other parts of Baptist Walk. This was much appreciated as the training team dug out to set us up for the best possible chance to pass Baptist Run
Saturday started with a good session on the bottom field where the troop performed to a high standard and showed the determination and aggression required. This meant that morale was high heading into a much feared armed drill session. The fear was distinguished as it was just revising and reteaching the movements we learnt in our first session
Sunday was filled with inspections and the troop was only allowed ashore for five hours to buy essential kit for Baptist Run the following week. After many hours cleaning, polishing and mopping the troop finally hit the standards that are required within the Royal Marines. This was a good morale boost for the troop and has made us work better together as a team prior to Exercise Baptist Run and phase two training.
Week 14 226 Troop
Week 14 of Royal Marines training was an intense week filled with a lot of activity. The week started slowly but picked up pace towards the end. This was a very enjoyable week consisting of our third taste of bottom field, signals training and exercise Baptist Run, all of which were designed to test us on the individual skills we had learnt throughout phase 1.
Monday as usual kicked off with a 5 O’clock start and cleaning the accommodation. After a quick inspection we headed down to bottom field with 15 pounds of webbing weight (an increase from 10 pounds in just a few days) for ‘man phys’. This consists of fireman’s carries, multiple rope exercises, circuits of the bottom field assault course and various other activities, all of which ensure we are pushed to our physical limits every time, making sure we get the most from every session we have. The transformation from the strict gym style phys we had been used to up until week 10..to now, was huge. Bottom field in my opinion, is a more relaxed environment however with a more realistic type of phys associated with the job we joined to do. This makes the gruelling sessions really quite enjoyable and appropriate. It also shows how important it can be to be efficient and quick in certain elements of the sessions such as dead waited carries (fireman carries, pistol walks, baby carries etc) as in the battle field they could prove to be life saving. The rest of the day was quite relaxed with a trip down to the stores to collect all the final bits of kit we would need for Baptist Run.
Tuesday started off as the usual up and clean the accommodation however this time with no inspection showing how our standards each week are improving. Tuesday was a very chilled day of all signals work learning how to send and receive essential messages through radio talk/ communication. We all found this very interesting and got a chance to use the PRR (personal role radio) and send out sit-reps and contact reports. There was a lot of information to keep on top of through multiple PowerPoint presentations we were shown for the best part of 8 hours. At the end of the night we all made our way to the drill shed to lay out our kit muster for the exercise the following day, this took no longer than an hour and overall it went quite well for the troop. We all got a good nights sleep prior to Ex Baptist run.
Wednesday. This was the start of our criteria test on all of phase one training making this essential to pass and do well in, in order to proceed to phase two training which looks to be a very good phase! We started the day by conducting the 4 mile speed march, then returning to camp and packing up the trucks and getting all kit ready to make for Woodbury where the exercise was to take place. We left around midday on which we arrived to a very hectic and tightly scheduled first day! We undertook a FCO’s (fire control orders) which linked in well to target indication and observation- the observation consisted of a number of objects hidden in an open space, and it was our job to identify these objects and point them out. After this we made our way over to a map reading stance where we all answered questions on various locations in the near and far distance from a view point. We then undertook the stalk which was located in a gauze heavy field. The idea was to cam up in 15 minutes as quickly as possible before we were graded out of 10 on performance and concealment. We were then given a 10 second countdown to sprint in the direction of the targets before hitting the ground an making our way roughly 150 meters into the kill box before we could release a shot all while the corporals scanned the area with binos. After this we were then tasked with writing a route card and eating within 2 hours. This was in prep for our night nav in which we were to conduct alone and within allotted time and without using any main tracks or lighting. On completion of returning back to the camp site safely and within the time we would get our warmers on and wait out for everyone to arrive back safely. We then conducted a roaming sentry whilethe troop slept which allowed us to pair off and keep warm.
Thursday. The following day we did the exact same as Wednesday however in a different order and in different locations as not to make it easy for us. This gave us a second chance at some of the tasks we may have failed or struggled with, therefore giving us the chance to pull back all the must needed points. Thursday also presented a slightly more relaxed theme than Wednesday, although everyone worked just as hard.
Friday was our final day in the field consisting of the CFT (combat fitness test) which we had to complete to carry on into phase two. The CFT is a eight mile yomp with weight of 45 pounds in your webbing and daysack combined, plus rifle and water. It must be completed within 2 hours and with the troop. Our troop made this time nicely with no one dropping out. We therefore returned to Lympstone around twelve tired, sweaty and hungry, however ready to clean our rifle and de-service our kit. This was achieved throughout the night making sure everything was up to inspection standard for Saturday morning as for our final assessment of Baptist run. Overall a good week in training, with about 2/3rds of the troop passing and progressing into phase 2.