Soldier under Training (SuT) Thomas blogs about the week they had all been waiting for…
The week of Final Fling, the week we have all been waiting for was finally here. This was our time to put everything into practice – no lessons, no tests, no flapping!? It was over about as quickly as it started, time just flew by even with only 3 hours sleep a night. The first bit of hard graft was the walk out to the field with all our equipment, clothes, food and rifles. Like tortoises carrying their homes on their backs we made our way slowly but surely.
We set up our troop harbour, dug our shell scrapes and set up what was our living space for a few days. Heading out for our first of many patrols our Section Commander reassured us it would just be a short one to familiarise ourselves with the area. A much more important task than it might sound as over an hour later our Section Commander wasn’t entirely sure where we were!
We worked day and night and grabbed rest as and when we could. We had a chance to do a recce patrol, spying on the enemy and relaying information back to camp so we could go back later and attack. The following night we got called out for an ambush. With a trip flare set up at night, the enemy triggered it and while it was blazing we ambushed them and then searched them for any information. We found a map of our harbour area and saw that they knew all about us. After a few attacks on us in our harbour it was time to move on.
Probably one of the best days was spent in the Forward Operating Base (FOB). It was good to see and experience a little of what it is like on current operations. We had rotations on Quick Reaction Force, Patrols and Base Security. When the first mortar attack happened there was a small panic while we all tried to remember what to do! A lot happened; not only was there indirect fire there were people digging in IEDs out on the surrounding ground, people trying to get in to the FOB, people demanding water and attacking the main gate and enemy firing at the sangars (the security points on each corner of the FOB). We got to use PRRs (radios) and as soon as we had them on we all felt much more professional and more realistic. There were a number of interesting conversations going on and the section commanders had a few laughs at our expense.
Our time was over and we packed up to move back out into the field. Setting up a hasty harbour for our last night we started to get excited about our final attack, the big attack, the following morning. With rifles sparkling and ammunition full we headed out for the final attack. It was so good and exhausting! We were attacked out on patrol and put into practice all our formations. We followed our orders, tried to stay calm and remembered everything we needed to do.
The hardest bit was during the attack when we hit a steep hill. Already exhausted we ran up it trying not to be seen. Then sneaking around the back while the others stayed on the other side firing at the enemy, we posted a grenade. We thought it was close to the finish but we stayed on guard just in-case. The next thing we knew we came under indirect fire attack and took a casualty. Grabbing the stretcher we were running again with the casualty in hand. Finally we were out and it was over, dripping with sweat we had nothing left to give! But then we all remembered our walk back to camp we still had to complete!
The troop dug deep one last time and without a complaint to be heard we made it back to camp and cannot believe we have completed Exercise FINAL FLING and 13 weeks.