Page 85 - MBS 2022/23
P. 85

                                 2022 was supposed to be a reset year for 2RIFLES. At least the start of it was. A recovery period after a busy
year previously, some low-level sub-unit training into a validation phase and then potentially a large scale exercise or even an overseas deployment towards the end of the year. Or at least that’s what we thought. On 24 Feb 22, Russia invaded Ukraine and 2RIFLES were given the order to form the Agile Task Force and prepare to move to a location undisclosed. The rumours were rife! We were going into Russia. We were going into Ukraine. Regardless of where we were deploying, we had 28-days to get our stuff together, say goodbye to our families and get into the warfighting mindset. Next stop... Estonia. The RTR Battlegroup (BG) had been extended on Op CABRIT 9, the Royal Welsh BG had taken over for CABRIT 10 and then the 2RIFLES BG were just about to commence operations across the entire B3P whilst using Estonia as the Main Operating Base; Camp Tapa was about to get a whole lot busier.
Deploying to 5 different countries over 6 separate locations, the 2RIFLES Agile Task Force would be operating with 4 of our NATO allies (Poland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania) and an expeditionary deployment to Finland to deter the threat from our foreign adversaries and display European solidarity across the Baltic States. What did that mean to me as an RAPTCI Forward? I wasn’t taking over any infrastructure or deploying in role. There was no acclimatisation phase and the climatic SQEP piece was going to be owned by the medical department. I had ensured that direction for maintaining fitness whilst deployed was given to all of my All Arms PTIs in their respective locations. On the ORBAT I was just another SNCO within the MFD deployability
SSgt (SSI) D Clarkson RAPTC
category. So, I was to be misappropriated and given a new role. I had been elevated to the position of Headquarter Company Sergeant Major (HQ CSM) and given the responsibility of controlling the attached arms and the battle churn of all incoming and outgoing alongside the Ops Officers. With plenty of additional responsibilities I assumed the role and embraced my new position as part of this expeditionary task force. But everyone still saw me as the Corpsman! A new look soon sorted that out.
So, with my new look and my new role, the remainder of the tour required me to have an eye on a wide spectrum of areas, not forgetting that I am the RAPTCI for the BG also. PT had to be collaborated with military training due to the busy nature of the Forecast of Events (FOE). Mission Specific Training was essential to remain operationally effective and training had to be integrated with our host nations. But the Riflemen wanted more. Physical development was now starting to become part of the mental resilience plan and the troops wanted more kit!
With the expeditionary nature of the tour, funding was a tricky area. There was plenty of money being made available to us, but what we could spend it on was a different matter. The lived experience of the BG was important, and I wanted to give the people what they wanted... phys kit and AT! Going through the correct means, I managed to secure a Forward Operating Base 10 (FOB10), which wasn’t great, but it was all they’d give me. Using a welfare grant I’d secured enough funding to provide each tent (Yes! 80+ Bastion tents in Estonia!?).
With a selection of phys kit where they could conduct at least some form of PT
SSgt (SSI) “Jez” Clarkson as ATF HQ CSM in Estonia
SSgt Clarkson giving the boxers brief prior to 2RIFLES Inter-Company Boxing Competition 2023
in the confines of their accommodation, the biggest struggle was getting AT funded! We were on Ops! Why would we want to conduct Adventurous Training on operations. Using some of the contacts that I had acquired from Op CABRIT I managed to source a few providers which were “locally approved” and recommended in previous CABRIT PXRs. I sold my vision using mental resilience training as part of my rationale and I waited on the response from 1 Div. I requested funding in July. It was approved in November. Brilliant. I’ve now enabled 700+ SP to go through AT during our closedown month. I managed just over 60% with the remaining 40% on mission critical taskings. On reflection, they were probably quietly grateful not to be doing it. Canoeing in the Baltic winter was definitely not for the faint hearted, however “Bog Shoeing” was fantastic; Google it!
With the tour over, everyone recovered, and a lot of leave taken, we were back in to business as usual. And what comes up first in the FOE for this callsign..... Boxing! It comes around every year and each year has to be better than the last. 18 boxers, 9 bouts and a walkover, the 2RIFLES inter- company boxing is the biggest major unit sporting event in Northern Ireland every year, so it had to be big..... and it was!
What’s next for 2RIFLES. Here’s hoping for a quiet year. Time to recover, reset and re-cock and go again in 2024. The likelihood of that happening is yet to be seen, but one thing is certain, 2RIFLES will be ready!
     2 RIFLES Battlegroup temporary accommodation, Camp Tata, Estonia

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