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D (Fire Sp) Company by Maj R S Moorhouse


Band of Brothers or Ultimate Force?


When I wrote the introduction for the D Company article in the first edition of The Mercian Eagle, the Company had recently reformed following Op Herrick 6 and was preparing for the Battalion’s move to Belfast. With the Battalion already warned off to return to Afghanistan in the Spring of 2009, we didn’t think that 2008 would bring us too many surprises.


Palace Barracks, Belfast


The Battalion’s experiences of Afghanistan in 2007 left the Commanding Officer in no doubt that D Company’s specialist Platoons would be in great demand on Op Herrick 10 however, by January 2008, its manpower had been severely eroded. This meant that additional manpower had to be found, NCOs needed to be sent on career courses and cadres needed to be run for those new arrivals: no small task. One solution to this manpower shortfall was the recruitment of 31 Full Time Regular Service (FTRS) Soldiers from 4 MERCIAN. Following discussions between the two Battalions, it was agreed that TA Soldiers would be more likely to commit to a 2 year contract with a Regular Battalion if they were to be employed in specific roles which would make them equal to their regular counterparts; D (Fire Sp)


40 October 2009


Company could not only offer such rôles but, with its unique character, was considered an easier environment for these individuals to settle into. Having attracted significant interest, the decision was made for them to arrive in Belfast immediately prior to the start of the cadres thereby throwing them in the deep end!


Within two weeks of arriving in Belfast, the Company (with the exception of the Sniper Platoon) was on its way to Salisbury Plain for four weeks of Support Weapon Cadres. Based in Knook Camp, each of the Platoons (Recce, Mortars, Javelin and Guns) ran independent Cadres making full use of both the expansive training area and the fantastic facilities around the Plain. With many of the Pl Commanders and Platoon 2ics having only just taken up their appointments, this was a fantastic effort by all those involved. CSgt Walker, with no previous experience, had the unenviable task of rebuilding the Sniper Pl whilst also preparing a Battalion Shooting Team for the annual Central Skill at Arms Meeting (SAAM) at Bisley. For the first half of the year, the Platoon was rarely in Belfast, spending a considerable amount of time in Magilligan and Ballykinler. Having qualified for Bisley, with a fantastic performance at the 3 (UK) Div SAAM, the majority of the


team had to switch the focus to sniping which, unfortunately, had an impact on the Team’s preparation and their final positioning but did prove that the Battalion had the potential to be truly competitive in 2010. The competition shooting certainly served as good preparation for the sniper training and, by the start of September 2008, the entire Platoon had passed the Direct Fire Part One (Shooting) Cadre in Scotland and also completed the Part 2 (Fieldcraft) Cadre run internally by CSgt Walker and Cpl Fenton. Meanwhile, C Company, like the other Rifle Companies, set about achieving the training standards required for the Battalion to deploy in the Autumn on a multinational exercise in Germany. Making the most of the limited training facilities within the Province, the Company spent a number of weeks in Magilligan before moving to Brecon for a live firing package. During their time in Magilligan, they were given the task of hosting a Company from the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) as part of the reciprocal arrangement to A Company’s deployment on Ex Red Stripe; as A Company sampled the delights of a Caribbean island, the JDF Company was introduced to the rules of Yam Sin and saw a different side to the Atlantic winds.


The Mercian Eagle


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