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Warriors in the field not on the road

By Cpl. Diego Bunuel
First published in
SFOR Informer #96, September 13, 2000

Manjaca Range - Under cloudy skies and treading on the wind-swept plain, six sections of the King's Own Royal Border Regiment, who usually speed through such terrain aboard Warriors, found themselves having to learn the intricacies of infantry fighting.
"Our dismounted soldiers are developing low level infantry training because in March we are leaving for Cyprus for two years," said Capt. Jason Simpson, deputy commander of the Arnhem Company. "We are used to travelling at the back of Warriors and we have a very limited view of what's going on the field. To a degree our low level skills have suffered."
But not for long. As the 70 men spent three days on the range practising section attacks, break contact drills and ambushes, it seemed clear that they enjoyed getting out of their armoured personnel carriers.
"This is great because you can use the ground much better," said Cpl. Adrian Bennett, of the anti-tank platoon, who's spent the past six years aboard a Warrior. "It's a lot slower being on foot, but your chance of surviving is higher."
During the first two days of training, each section met up with an instructor on the field to go through the essential steps of staying alive in an ambush or checking bodies for booby traps, just to name a few of the workshops. Then a few minutes after the course, soldiers got a first hand experience of what they had learned as they went through a simulation.
As the first section was ambushed, they moved fast. First returning fire, then retreating in five meter increments to provide fire cover for the other half of the section as they moved into the tall grass behind them. The continuous crackling of gunshots at dawn was a reminder of how difficult getting out of an ambush can be. Once the pull back was complete, the section leader made a headcount, ordered his men to check their magazines and then they pulled out.
But as their instructor, Sgt. Maj. Phil Bailey, put it, the only thing to do during an ambush is to get out of there fast.
Rain drenched the first two days of the exercise making it even harder but that's something that pleased the instructors.
"The rain made it a better exercise because soldiers have to waterproof their equipment, and when you are used to Warriors if it rains you just climb into it," said Sgt. Maj. Bailey. "You only make the mistake of getting wet once."
But for their next mission rain might be sparse as they are entrusted with guarding the British installations in Cyprus.
"One of the incentives for getting us to go is that we work only in the morning," joked Simpson, "And in the afternoon, we can do windsurfing, skydiving, scubadiving or any other activity."

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