Page 44 - The Chapka 2016
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 42 REGIMENTAL JOURNAL OF THE ROYAL LANCERS (QUEEN ELIZABETHS’ OWN) Kømmand Trüppe - Of propagation and precipitation
 One of the most challenging exercises for a Regimental Sig- nals Officer and the Regimental Signals Warrant Officer (indeed, also for the Bowman Systems Manager and every other man in Command Troop) is a BATUS deployment. Here, on the Albertan Prairie, Aurora Borealis plays havoc with VHF propa- gation and whilst it is possible to tune in to the BBC World Ser- vice on HF, get 4G on your phone and listen to NASA weather reports on UHF (though we have still not managed to hack the ISS frequency) it can be nigh on impossible to beam a VHF sig- nal a mere two miles away. Coupled with dense magnetic con- centrations across the scrubland, anything could happen.
Hence, we dread it. This point was proven when only one week into the exercise, all of Command Troop’s Sultans with their amplifiers, elevated antennas and dedicated comms suites failed us, leaving only the Regimental Sergeant Major’s stripped down and highly camouflaged landrover as the only vehicle from Headquarters capable of communicating anywhere. It couldn’t get worse could it? Yes, it could. The computer systems began to play up and warning signs began to flash. Strange occurrences took place. Eventually it was discovered that we had a virus. Not any virus, this was the Gammima virus – the only computer vi- rus in the world to have infected the International Space Sta- tion’s systems (when a Russian Cosmonaut smuggled a USB stick aboard) and indeed the only computer virus on the Alber- tan grasslands infecting the CVR(T)s. You couldn’t make it up.
It never rains, it pours, and it certainly did for a large majority of the exercise. So, barely able to communicate, and unable to compute, the last thing you want is to not be able to manoeuvre; which is exactly what Corporal Shannon’s Sultan did, shedding both tracks, ripping off an idler, four road wheels and five road
Corporal Shannon and RSM Borthwick track bashing
wheel arms. 24 hours of track bashing in the mud finally saw ‘us’ on the road again.
Apart from some minor hiccoughs (did I mention the RSO managed to get his vehicle destroyed by a Javelin having ‘taken command of the vehicle, we’re going forward’ and despite the Regimental Sergeant Major most specifically advising that he not drive down the roads towards the enemy?) and some teeth- ing issues (how do you write top secret battlegroup plans on a whiteboard in the pouring rain?) and times when two paper cups and some string would have been more effective than Bowman, the exercise was enormously successful. Particular highlights in- clude the RSM getting down and dirty doing some track bashing with Corporal Shannon and Trooper Burgess; Sergeant Wooff ’s one man G4 chain; Corporal Parker attempting to take out his frustration on a CVRT with Judo (ill advised on three inch thick aluminium armour); Sergeant Baldwin’s curious ability to be able to cure all BOWMAN problems merely by staring intensely at the radio; Lance Corporal Burnett’s unbending and ever relia- ble stoicism; and, Corporal Smith following his compass ‘North’ for several circles as he was holding it too close to the GPMG.
A note of thanks from the old RSO, to all the team and in par- ticular to WO2 Elce, Sergeant Wooff, Sergeant Smith and Ser- geant Baldwin, for mobilizing very old, very clapped out, bottom of the priority list vehicles onto the prairie and maintaining mo- rale and (sometimes) ‘stable VHF networks’ throughout. Their unerring commitment to the cause and ceaseless professional- ism, both in barracks and deployed no matter the circumstance, was utterly invaluable.
  BATUS – the Glastonbury of Alberta
Captain Purbrick springs to attention as BGHQ scream for the RSO

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