Page 100 - The Rifles Bugle Autumn 2019
P. 100

    2Lt Luke Kemp living that Humvee life
Ex Rattlesnake
In September 2018, A Coy deployed to the Joint Readiness Training Centre at Fort Polk in Louisiana, USA as part of Exercise RATTLE- SNAKE. Formerly known as Tigerland, this training area is similar in scale to BATUS and is used by the Americans to train Brigades at a time. Hot, humid and covered predominantly by dense woodland and jungle, we were to join the 1st BCT 82nd Airborne as they went into their summative exercise.
Alas as we arrived in America so did Hurricane Florence and 1/82 BCT took the
full brunt of the weather at their home in
Fort Bragg, causing the cancellation of the exercise by US FORCECON. After a brief period of frenetic planning we managed to
secure the resources and real estate to
conduct our own training instead, for the
entire period. What was a CT5 exercise
was now CT2 training, tailored to our needs
and giving us the opportunity to fight against the professional enemy unit posted to JRTC. Known as ‘bad’ GERONIMO, Tigerland is their home; they have better maps, know where the rivers are fordable and have attacked over the ground countless times. Against exercising troops, they definitely have the home team advantage.
The first week of our training was used to accli- matise and learn how to operate in this environment. Platoons conducted jungle training, FIBUA and navigation in order to understand the environment before we went up against the Americans. The pinnacle of this week’s training was some force- on-force action between the three platoons and the FSp contingent, giving us our first opportunity to try some new TTPs and get used to the MILES system; the American TES.
A Company then set about getting to grips with GERONIMO, with a short platoon-level exercise followed by a company phase. This phase was broken down into three tactical actions; a raid, a company defence and a deliberate attack on a village.
The first tactical action was a raid onto a compound and the two junctions that it commanded. In order to gain the upper hand, our plan made use of deception on the most likely avenue of approach and then a wide flanking tab by the Company to get behind the objective. The enemy were caught unawares, and we fought them off the position. They
then tried to reinforce it from the South but with an anti-tank screen and 2 Platoon already in place they were
beaten back. 1 – 0 A Coy.
We then received orders to set up a
company defence to block an MSR leading East to West through a large clearing; surrounded by dead ground and dense woodland. After 36 hours of frantic digging and preparation, the enemy arrived. GERONIMO threw a dismounted Company at us, attacking both our front and our flank whilst their armour probed our obstacles. Despite inflicting heavy enemy losses, the northern parts of the company defences were at last overwhelmed. Isolated, 1 Platoon and the Company 2IC valiantly fought on but were eventually overrun. GERONIMO had struck back. 1-1, although we subsequently learnt the enemy had needed two dismounted companies and their armoured reserve to beat us.
Finally we were to attack and secure a village that sat on a key junction, controlling two MSRs. Deliv- ering a quick set of orders, OC A Company set the three platoons off independently. Moving through a selection of RVs we worked hard to get through the AO without being seen by the enemy’s recce and so catch them in the village with no warning of our approach. Further orders were delivered over the radio before the Company converged on the FUP. With the Company in position, we launched onto the village in the broad light of day, attacking well before last light. The enemy were taken completely by surprise; in line with known British Army doctrine they hadn’t expected us until the early hours of the next morning. The village was cleared in an hour and a half and we secured the junction. A hasty defence was then set up to hold the position. We were successful in this despite determined opposition, leaving the final score a healthy 2-1 for A Company.
Overall this was a fantastic training opportunity and we should look to emulate it where appropriate; the benefits of fighting against a free-thinking enemy should not be underestimated. Not to mention the excellent opportunity for Riflemen to sample the charms of Houston, Dallas, New Orleans and even Florida following Endex!
Lt Luke Kemp

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