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‘HQ’ Company


Driver Training by Capt Breen


MTO: Capt N H Breen


After two operational deployments in quick succession and a unit rôle change from 12 Mech Bde to the Land Warfare Centre (LWC), 3 MERCIAN had lost much of its driver qualified capability due to postings, retirements and promotions. This key shortfall required a whole new training plan to be developed. The intent was that, by the time the Unit completed its arms plot (AP) move to Fallingbostel, Germany, all Pte soldiers would be in possession of some form of Armoured Infantry qualification be it AFV driver or gunner. This target was always going to be a considerable feat considering the number of LWC commitments, manning constraints and the constant AFV training that has to happen within an armoured infantry (AI) battalion to keep it operational. All soldiers arriving from training hold a provisional license for all driving categories. On arrival, as part of their induction programme, they are introduced to the driver training suite and the importance of passing their theory training is explained. Once in possession of a theory pass certificate, they are loaded automatically onto the next available Cat B vehicle (car) course at DST Leconfield.


For a soldier to become qualified to drive an AFV, he must have a full clean driving licence and then attend and pass a four week internal AFV driver maintenance course. The culmination of this course is the final driving test on both road and cross country qualifying him to be road legal with an AFV. There are currently three variant AFV courses which have to be run continuously: Warrior, CVR(T) and 432 Bulldog each taking four weeks with a ratio of one instructor to four students. The commander’s course for AFVs is run internally over two weeks with the same instructor ratio. As well as AFV driver training, all soldiers need to be Green fleet vehicle drivers: this takes a further two week GS conversion course and then subsequent familiarisation training for each of the vehicles they intend to drive. To achieve the target of all Pte soldiers having an AFV qualification prior to our move to Fallingbostel, a programme was devised to provide AFV courses back to back and CAT B courses at DST Leconfield being utilised to provide the next detail of AFV drivers.


The Mercian Eagle


All in all, some 60 – 70 soldiers would be committed constantly to either delivering or receiving vehicle training at any one time.


With the limited number of solders and specialist instructors within 3 MERCIAN, this training bill caused huge difficulties forcing a trade-off between LWC commitments and driver training. As drivers became qualified and were received back into the Companies and departments, this eased the burden but increased the soldiers available to train, as fewer and fewer soldiers were sufficiently qualified in CAT B theory training to be sent to DST Leconfield. One of the most important lessons learnt has been the need to push soldiers through theory training to prevent a bottleneck in the whole process. DST Leconfield has recently addressed this issue and now runs driver training courses with theory training included. This means that the unit now sends soldiers with just a provisional license and receives a trained driver back. However, this can take up to four weeks before the soldier returns due to problems at DST Leconfield – not much consolation for a Company Commander who has to photocopy his soldiers twice to meet all his commitments. At the time of writing, 3 MERCIAN is some twelve months into the initial driver training plan and we start the move in two months’ time. Inevitably, some courses have been moved and some were cancelled but the net result is that 125 AFV and over 160 wheeled vehicle qualifications (theory included) have been gained by 3 MERCIAN. If the remaining couple of months are as successful as the last twelve, the Battalion will be firmly back on an operational footing with sufficient driver capability in depth when they arrive in Fallingbostel.


Catering Department


Functions, Burger bars, Battalion Families’ Day, container meals and that’s just one week in the life of the 3rd Battalion Catering Department and all done with a smile. Like the rest of the Battalion, the Catering Department has been kept on its toes with the Land Warfare Centre (LWC) Rôle, as well as normal camp routine. We have had a few promotions which have all been thoroughly deserved: Cpl Karl Ansell promoted to Sgt, Pte Udai Sahi promoted to LCpl and Pte Dale Walker selected for promotion to LCpl. A few new faces have joined the Catering Department: Sgt Joseph Hoyle on promotion, LCpl Pravin Gurung on promotion, Cpl Paul Lee on promotion and LCpl Kubunavanua.


The Catering Department has had a successful year with various events such as Battalion Families Day where we provided a giant oat cake, a BBQ and Ready, Steady, Cook. Functions in the field have been many and varied including the support for General Sir Richard Dannat and the Indian Army Chief of Staff. We have also managed to squeeze in a couple of catering competitions. Ex Tiger Cat is the Division’s annual competition during which teams have to compete against each other by producing two 3-course menus, one from fresh rations and the second from Compo. All this is done with military tests thrown in to stretch the teams and put them under a little more pressure! We were delighted that the 3 MERCIAN team of Cpl Adam Sinclair, LCpl Casey Thomas and Pte Udai Sahi won the morning section and came third overall out of about thirty teams. Cpl Adam Sinclair won Best Team Leader.


The Annual Christmas Cake competition produced a fantastic response from the Department and some inspiring results. Pte Steve Owen and LCpl Kaz Wallbanks shared joint honours in the Junior Section, Cpl Adam Sinclair won the Senior Section with Sgt Mark Craft coming a close second. The chef who won Best Effort went to LCpl Richards who spent a lot of his own time working on his cake. All the cakes were then entered into the Brigade Competition where they swept the board, winning all categories, with winning entries from WO2 (RCWO) Wayne McEachran, Cpl Paul Lee, LCpl Lewis Chambers and Pte Steve Owen. Some of the cakes went forward to the Divisional competition where LCpl Wallbanks won 1st Place in her category; this was a fantastic result as competition was fierce. All but four of the cakes were then donated to the Brigade Welfare Office or to local charities. The remaining four were auctioned to the officers, Warrant Officers and Senior NCOs during their Christmas drinks and raised £890 which was donated to Army Benevolent fund and a local Cancer Hospice.


AGC (SPS) Det 2009 by LCpls Gardner and


Richardson Much has happened for the good and benefit of the Battalion and for the development of the Detachment since the start of the LWC commitment. The Detachment has successfully passed the SPS inspection which was made more difficult as the Unit had not


October 2009 71


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