Page 57 - The Rifles Bugle Autumn 2019
P. 57

     Jungle insertion march
Exercise GUMA SUN, Sierra Leone
In November 2018 C Company deployed on a Defence Engagement overseas training exercise to Sierra Leone. Despite the country being ravaged by war over the years, and still dealing with the fallout from the Ebola crisis, the Sierra Leoneans were extremely welcoming and positive. The main aim of this exercise was to partner the Sierra Leonan Army and it offered an opportunity for C Company to conduct some excellent training in a challenging environment. The deployment came off the back of a stint of Public Duties in London and we were looking forward to getting back into the field.
The exercise started based out of a camp outside Freetown where we acclimatised to the hot and humid conditions which were far removed from a wet and windy Lisburn! This phase also gave us the opportunity to conduct some jungle specific lessons as well as touching on parts of the Battle Craft Syllabus. This was very well delivered by several of our own instructors and some local Jungle Warfare Instructors (JWI) headed up by our own JWI in Serjeant Wagstaff.
The second phase of the deployment saw the company deploy into the jungle south of Freetown dominated by the Guma Dam; a critical piece of national infrastructure guarded by the Sierra Leonan Army. The primary ‘dirty’ jungle provided a significant challenge to live in let alone conduct operations and the heavy vegetation made the simplest of moves across the ground difficult and protracted. The training was focussed on section and platoon level with contact drills, patrols and ambushes being conducted. This phase included one of the highlights in a survival day led by the Sierra Leonean JWIs. The day involved the Riflemen being taught how to collect water, build shelters and trap animals. The culmination of this day was the slaughtering and cooking of two goats and two chickens (it should have been three but one got away!). In this phase we were also lucky enough to host the President of Sierra Leone, as well as other VIPs from the Sierra Leonean government and the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF) Chief of the Defence Staff and Commander Joint Forces Command, as well as the Defence Attaches from the United Kingdom
and United State of America.
The third phase of the deployment was a tactical
exercise consisting of standing patrols, raids, ambushes and a final camp attack. Following tewlve days in the jungle the company recovered back to camp for some well-earned rest and recuperation, and preparation for the recovery back to Lisburn. We played a charity football match against a Lebanese community side, which raised money for a local blind school, where we also did some low-level community engagement. The platoons enjoyed a day at the beach (made famous in a Bounty advert from the 1990s), and a company meal out. We also bid farewell to our Sierra Leonean ‘brothers’ who sang songs into the night at the final barbeque. All in all the exercise was a success with an increased understanding of how indigenous forces operate in a jungle environment, and set us up well for the subse- quent deployment to Kenya.
Major Robin White
Officer Commanding C Company
         THE RIFLES
Lieutenant Hudson delivering a set of orders for a camp attack
 Officer Commanding C Company hosting the President of Sierra Leone

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