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Each Platoon then progressed to the Live Firing rotation and began build up shoots including grenade throwing and night firing. Some very beneficial training was conducted in harsh terrain with intense levels of humidity thrown into the mix. The week culminated with a live Platoon attack through multiple positions in a valley. The Exercise concluded with a dry Company level exercise including recces of a known enemy position and finally an attack. A gruelling three days was had by all and the final attack marked the end of our training in Jamaica. Following a lengthy clear up of the ranges and camp we began a four day R & R package in a coastal resort named Ocho Rios - fun and merriment for all before returning to UK at the end of a very successful and memorable six week experience.


Following summer leave, training continued in earnest with more live firing packages and general field training. The next major event for the Platoons was the CFX in Thetford including some very beneficial dry training and we had the chance to practise convoy drills and skills. In January we ran a combined arms live firing package for the Brigade to rotate through in sunny Otterburn. Despite running the ranges, the Company managed to conduct a day’s worth of Company and Platoon level live firing followed by a Platoon night attack. The Platoons worked extremely well and overall had a very successful day. Following this the Platoons were able to get hands-on experience firing the .50 cal HMG, GMG and 60mm mortar - a very busy time for the Platoons but the lads are now fully primed for Op Herrick 10.


Pre Deployment Training (PDT)


No sooner had the Battalion returned from Post Operational Tour Leave (POTL) after Op Herrick 6 than the PDT and preparation for Op Herrick 10 began. A number of new faces arrived from Catterick and continued to trickle in throughout the year. Integrating these newcomers just out of training into a Unit of mixed experience proved to be taxing for both the soldiers and their commanders but, with the intensity of life remaining high, they soon fitted in. After the successful Ex Red Stripe in Jamaica in May to July and a bit of in-camp training, summer leave was upon us after which the PDT began in earnest. There were Afghan specific briefing days for Commanders and All Ranks at Ballykinler, an area which, along with Magilligan, we were to become quite familiar with over the coming months as we tried to adapt the training for our task of training the Afghan National Police. On a whirlwind tour of training areas across the UK, the Company focussed its range packages onto what we might face during the tour. All this hard work warranted a bit of Adventurous Training in Germany, which we managed to squeeze into the program in September.


34 October 2009


3 Platoon in Jamaica


While not all appreciated the three days of hill walking, or “the Army’s stealth phys” as it was known, the climbing and high ropes courses were a welcome change of pace. We were soon back at work and it was during our deployment to Thetford in October for a Brigade training package that we learned that our task had changed. We were now to go back to our old stomping ground of Garmsir, working separately from 2 MERCIAN under the Light Dragoons Battle Group. This area will have changed almost beyond recognition in the 18 months since we left and we are all interested to see the gains that have been made.


A spell of well-earned Christmas leave followed before the Company packed up for a stay in yet more transit accommodation on the Brigade CALFEX in Otterburn, a lovely place to spend January. Despite a very busy time for most of the Company and Platoon Command elements, we benefited from the training available. Not in many places (other that Helmand) will you see artillery, armour and Apache all firing live, as well as fast air, in support of a Company operation, and everyone performed well during our run out. It was also during this period that we welcomed back Cpl Zecca, who, after a brief dabble in civilian life has realised that the grass really is greener on the Army side of the fence. His experience along with that of the other NCOs and senior soldiers who have been to Helmand before will be invaluable in the forthcoming months and during our deployment. With our deployment set for mid April, there are still many opportunities to train and much still to learn but the Platoon and Company continue to impress, especially given the youth and inexperience of many of its members. I’m sure that they will continue this trend on Op Herrick 10.


Adventurous Training


SCUBA Diving in the Caribbean During Ex Red Stripe there was an opportunity for Scuba diving. Each of the Platoons attended the PADI Open Water diver course using their Standard Learning Credit grant towards the cost. After some initial theoretical tuition and a test (harder for some than others), we took to the waters of the Caribbean on our first dive. The scenery was extremely impressive from the outset and the clarity of the water was unforgettable. After having dived to roughly sixty feet we were taken on something of an underwater tour and, amongst other things, saw barracuda and dolphins but the real prize for some was off a different area of coastline; after having been down for roughly twenty minutes, they came across a six foot long stingray. The instructor took them to within twenty feet of it then wrote on her message board that this stingray was similar in breed and size to the one that killed Steve Irwin. This had a few people breathing a little more rapidly from their air bottles!


Climbing & Hill Walking in Germany


After a short flight to Stuttgart and a long time trying to get out of the airport due to a dodgy Satnav, we finally made our way to the tiny village of Wertach which was to be our home for the next ten days. We were accommodated in Haus Magnus, an Army- run lodge complete with lodge manager, chief instructor and most importantly of all, chefs. Also, the lodge had one of only two bars open in the village as it was out of season. The first few days were spent hill walking with the difficulty increasing day by day, both in terms of physical effort and technical ability. In addition, the weather closed in after a


The Mercian Eagle


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