Soldier under Training (SuT) Alastair Byrne blogs again from the Army Training Centre, Pirbright, about the latest week of his Phase 1 Training course. This week he’s been down in the mud, up on the high wires and inside the Respirator Test Facility…
On Monday morning we had our first battle physical training (battle PT) lesson outside, on the assault course. The warm up was particularly hard – we had to run around a track, dropping down and crawling when they shouted “grenade”. We had all seen the huge puddles dotted around the track and most of the Troop were avoiding them – until the instructor noticed. Then we had to jump in the mud and crawl through it! It was a bit annoying to start off with, but once you’re covered in mud you don’t really worry about it again. The assault course has some high wires and other obstacles that we had to get over or across, individually and as a Section, which left most of us shattered. We had about three minutes to get showered and changed – 30+ people rushing to get clean was mayhem and led to a few arguments!
On Tuesday morning I got up earlier than normally allowed to get some sock folding and cleaning done. All we spoke about that morning was our impending lesson in the respirator test facility. After running around, we lined up ready to enter the building, and looking at some of the people walking out of it I could tell that it wasn’t going be a pleasant experience. I hadn’t fitted my respirator properly, so as soon as I walked inside I was exposed to CS gas, and was in a mess. After a few minutes of stumbling around I managed to say my name, rank and number. It was a strange experience being the only one in there without a mask on.
Later that day, we had a few briefs on the Rules of Engagement and the Law of Armed Conflict – lessons that got us thinking about going to war and the way you would react to certain situations.
Wednesday was a full day on the ranges, shooting from multiple positions at 100, 200 and 300m. Standing at 200m was definitely the most difficult but good practice for the test in two weeks’ time.
On Thursday we had another go on the assault course. We climbed over the 12-foot wall which was a great opportunity to work together as a section. The fastest teams were not necessarily the fittest guys, but the people that worked best together.
Throughout the week, we’d been making Guys for Bonfire Night. We were told that Smith Troop’s would have to be the biggest, and would have to win. I made the cape!
To end the week, we had bayonet fighting. We were marched to the Mess Hall had to keep our heads down, looking at the floor all the way to our table. A few of the guys were made to do press ups because they were looking around. Then we had three minutes to eat our food. After getting marched back we put our hoods up and stood in a hot, dark room whilst still looking at the floor. After a period of time we ran around the block a few times and then got ready for the lesson. It was good to take some aggression out on the stab bags. The lesson was really tiring as we had to run around a lot, and scream. It was strange to think that at some point in our careers we may have to do this for real, so the training was very worthwhile.
After a day of screaming, shouting and stabbing bags it was good to get down to the bonfire and watch the fireworks. The winners of the Guy competition were announced and we did some more shouting when they said that our Troop had won. The prize: our 8-foot Guy was allowed to burn last!
The rest of the weekend involved getting ready for our Adventure Training weekend in Wales and, of course, watching Spurs lose to Bolton. A bad end to the week.