Page 25 - The Chapka 2016
P. 25

‘Robust, Agile and Capable’ is the mantra for the Royal Armoured Corps training school in Bovington and these qualities are put to the test annually at the RAC sports
This year, The Royal Lancers were battling to retain the tro- phy that was so gloriously won last year. We started well, securing a strong 3rd position in Golf before the main event. As the competition itself started, and inspired by the Olym- pic performance of the British Ladies’ Hockey Team, Lancer hockey players dominated the rest of the Corps and took an early first place. Our Water Polo and Cross Country teams followed that up with hard-fought efforts to gain second overall team place. On the sports pitches, under the some- what eerie gaze of the condemned Officers’ Mess, the Rugby and Football teams competed in a test of stamina over two days against tough opposition and came through having pro- duced the goods. In rugby union we took the Bronze medal, the football team gained 4th place and our rugby league side ended in 5th.
With a series of notable performances, the Lancers were very much vying for the title with the final day’s ‘Military Event’ being the tournament decider. A new event for Hod- son’s Horse, it comprised a series of military PT endurance events, including a stretcher race and a log run all whilst navigating round the area. After this lung-busting effort, the team emerged in 5th place; eager point-counters quickly completed their sums as the rest of the crowd waited for the amusement to see if the Lancers would retain their title, or whether those perennial winners the RTR would snatch it back. Alas, the RTR narrowly took the title, leaving us in 2nd place. This should not distract from the sheer amount of guts and glory that was displayed on the hallowed turf, astro and tarmac of Bovington by Lancers. Overall, the Regiment demonstrated that even with a severely restricted training schedule due to BATUS and training support, it is now one of the major players in RAC sport.
Supporting our Eastern Allies
If you hear the names Latvia and Riga the first thought that comes to many people’s minds is the image of drunken stag parties and beautiful eastern European women; that is about as far as it goes for many of us. What you don’t think about is a country vigorously preparing itself for war with an aggressive neighbour and one that is expanding its army and hosting large- scale NATO exercises.
One of these exercises was Exercise SILVER ARROW, which saw troops from the UK, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Ger- many, as well as the US, and Marines from Romania and Italy join together in a brigade exercise to defend against an armoured enemy approaching through the Adazi Forest from the east. The armour was Latvian, provided by a company of the Latvian 1st Mechanised Infantry Battalion mounted in the first of their new CVR(T).
Although the CVR(T) is not the most potent vehicle in terms of firepower and protection, the vehicle seems perfectly suited to the terrain and requirement. Latvia is over 50% forested, marsh- land covers a tenth of the country and wide open spaces are limited. This removes the advantage of heavy, long range vehi- cles and weapons. Using our Brigade Reconnaissance Regiment Field Manual as one of their guide rails, the Latvians set about practising true Armoured Cavalry tactics; it will be interesting to see how they develop their own capability. Their soldiers are ideally suited to the temperamental nature of CVR(T); they keep their own cars and vehicles on the road themselves and could ar- guably be described as more technically minded than a lot of us. The Commanding Officer was horrified when his vehicle avail- ability dropped to 90%: the normal for the exercise was 95-98%. The vehicle suits the Latvian requirement well as the combined strength of the Baltic States is geared towards delaying an ad- vancing enemy for long enough to allow NATO forces to deploy to the area. They need a small, agile vehicle that can be repaired easily, report on enemy movements, and strike with the ‘Spike’ missile to blunt the thrust of an armoured column.
I deployed under Op TACIT with a Short Term Training Team to help provide support to the Battlegroup Headquarters of the CVR(T) company playing enemy. While we were not expecting a conscript army we did not expect the army that we saw. The Baltic armies are organised and disciplined, with a Defence Col- lege where they share experience and knowledge, to ensure that a strong defence plan is in place. They also live with the possibil- ity of re-invasion from the east.
If the Regiment deploys as part of the ‘Enhanced Forward Pro- tection’, it will be a great opportunity to learn new ways of doing things in an unfamiliar area, at the same time supporting our Eastern allies and reassuring them that NATO is here to stay.

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