Page 97 - The Chapka 2016
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 the West Bank, whilst our American cousins remain in Jerusa- lem and require armed escorts for most of their excursions out- side of Israel. I have taken full advantage of this opportunity and travelled up and down Israel and throughout Jordan. Where else can you visit a Biblical site, a Crusader fortress and a 20th century tank battle within a single morning? Outside of work, I was honoured to be able to carry out an act of remembrance within the Gaza Commonwealth War Graves – the first in twen- ty years, despite being diligently maintained by the gardeners through two decades of chaos.
Many of you may have views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, whether supporting either side or none. The situation is com- plex and I will not even attempt to sum it up here, save to offer two thoughts to reflect on the challenge. On one hand, driv- ing each day from Ramallah to Jericho I passed through a per- manent Israeli checkpoint each day – permanent in that it was built up, but not permanently manned – with its purpose clear; reminding the Palestinians that they were occupied and their movements restricted. Conversely, the frequent rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip into Israel a reminder of the Israeli fears about security, grounded in experience and history. Recognising and understanding the arguments and grievances of both sides will be key to any hope of a lasting solution and peace.
During my time away, I am delighted to report that I was able to work closely alongside our Canadian cousins of Lord Strath- cona’s Horse – it turns out they talk a big game about Mess din- ners, but their endurance is limited. Even more happily, I was
able to hand over to another Lancer (Captain Ed Aitken), with a third due to deploy in March (WO2 Hobson), and a fourth deploying in December (Captain Chris Guest). Lancers served for many years in Palestine during the British Mandate and it is great news that we are continuing that relationship today. I would recommend the experience highly – either to work within the British Support Team or just to visit for a holiday or bat- tlefield study. So much has been written about this conflict – take the opportunity to see it for yourself and make up your own mind.
  In a sleepy corner of Wiltshire there exists a place that has hosted many a Lancer over the years. That place is the Re- connaissance Armoured Tactics Division (RATD) and it is currently home to myself and Captain Chris Guest. Although clearly not Light Cav cap-badged, I have the pleasure of run- ning the Tactics phase for our Light Cav brethren, whilst Captain Guest runs ths same for Armoured Cavalry.
Those that have attended their Troop Leaders or Crew Com- manders courses in Warminster probably have mixed memo- ries of the experience. After the delights of a few months in Bovington and Lulworth, moving in between second and third gear, and flapping when you’re still in work at 0915 on a Friday, the students come to Warminster to put all their new-found AFV knowledge into practice. Both courses work from largely the same course construct: a week and a half of classroom tuition followed by four and a half weeks spent in the field, or in CATT simulators to practice all that has been taught.
It is somewhat refreshing to be part of an organisation that in a period of flux, the Light and Armoured concepts remains largely untouched. RATD exists to teach our next generation of commanders the fundamentals of mounted soldiering and reconnaissance tactics and as a result is able to continue work largely as normal. This said, it has been useful and interesting to see how Field Training Unit (FTU) based across the Plain
are exercising the Light Cavalry units coming through their Collective Training cycles, and provides useful impetus for us to refine of our own exercises. As and when the concepts reach their fruition and agreed end-state we aim to have pro- duced a wave of commanders who, armed with the basics, can adapt to how it is they are being asked to operate. As a result our courses are very progressive in their nature and strive to combine as much tuition and time in the field as is possible. Final exercise provides an opportunity to confirm that the course material: mounted manoeuvre and reconnaissance, dismounted OPs and CTRs, amongst other actions, can be proficiently executed by the students and that they are able to conduct these actions as part of a Sabre Tp on return to Regimental Duty.
As a posting it provides great satisfaction to see the develop- ment of our commanders in the six weeks that they spend with us. From operating on a Jackal or CVR(T) for the first time to occupying a sub-surface OP for 48hrs, the course still provides an exciting insight to the world of Light and Ar- moured Cavalry tactics and experiences that mould the next generation. For Captains and Staff Sergeant Instructors alike it is also a great opportunity to become fully immersed in the world of tactics and, as a result, affords a hugely enjoyable opportunity.
Life at RATD

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