Officer Cadet Todd Ledwith writes from the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst with an explanation for the lack of blogs over the last few weeks…
A very busy 3 weeks has taken unfortunately its toll on my blog entries. It has been a period of intense preparation for exercise, followed by our deployment on Exercise DRUID’S RIDGE and then subsequent instruction and assessment now that we are back in camp.
Firstly, Exercise DRUID’S RIDGE proved to be an immensely tiring and rewardingly challenging exercise in the Sennybridge area of the Brecon Beacons in Wales. The exercise began with the occupation of the training area of Cilieni village – a collection of approximately 20 houses, each of which were allocated in Company and Platoon groupings. We then set about fortifying these buildings using anything that could be scavenged; ammunition crates were stacked floor to ceiling in order to block off certain areas, sheets of metal were laid on stairs to make them hard to ascend, metal pickets were driven point-uppermost into the ground and razor wire was wrapped around them to delay any enemy advance and defensive positions were created inside the buildings to serve as sentry positions and firing points. Reconnaissance patrols were then deployed in order to determine the locations and disposition of our enemy, the Sennymand Border Force (played as convincingly as ever by the Gurkha Company Sittang). After launching platoon-level attacks on enemy positions, the village was overrun by the enemy in an aggressive dawn assault. We were forced to withdraw to rural harbour locations in order to continue to launch offensive operations to defeat the SBF in our area of operations. After a tough tab in full kit to the summit of a 300m ascent and then being ambushed whilst being transported to these new locations, we established our harbours, dug our shell-scrapes and launched into further recce patrols to locate suitable locations to lay an ambush on a known enemy supply route. Once the ambushes had been sprung and the enemy destroyed, we returned to the harbour area only to receive orders for further patrols to be sent out to observe further enemy positions and assess tactical options for a Company-level assault. After a successful assault we returned to the harbour locations to conduct battle preparation for another Company-level night attack. We were beginning to gain the upper hand on the enemy. Leaving our rural bases, the Battle Group (the three Companies of Commissioning Course 103) then moved to a barn to plan and prepare to retake Cilieni village from the enemy. The assault was successful and gave us our first experience of FIBUA or Fighting In Built-Up Areas, clearing rooms in assaulting pairs and gradually retaking the village. After “end-ex” was called, all that remained was to strip out our defences and return the training village to its previous state (if slightly cleaner than when we arrived under the influence of our Directing Staff).
Returning to camp Monday night, 1 Platoon indulged in our post-exercise ritual of pizza and cleaning in preparation for a kit inspection on Wednesday. The week’s programme also contained a session on the assault course and learning to tackle the 12ft wall, the intermediate navigation competition (a pass or fail event), academic deadlines and an introduction to rifle drill for the forthcoming drill competition. It hasn’t all been hard work however, Wednesday afternoon saw the Clay Pigeon Shooting Team, of which I am a member, travel to Bisley for a very enjoyable period of instruction in the lead up to the inter-Academy games against the Britannia Royal Naval College in Dartmouth which take place this weekend. On our return, it will be a quick re-pack of kit before leaving forExercise NORMANDY SCHOLAR, two days spent on the battlefield sites of Normandy conducting the estimate and orders process on several historical tactical scenarios. The pace of life continues in rapid fashion here at Sandhurst and although we may have completed our final field exercise for the term, there is a great deal occurring before the term ceases. Not least is discovering which Regiment or Corps we will join at the end of the commissioning course through the process of Regimental Selection Boards.