Page 58 - The Rifles Bugle Autumn 2019
P. 58

Exercise FROSTED BLADE, France
2 RIFLES Ski Team deployed onto Exercise   training; for some it meant getting the rust off the ski
   FROSTED BLADE in early December 2018 for a months’ worth of arduous ski training in the glorious Val D’Isere resort in France. Eight Riflemen of varying ranks deployed to test their mettle against the rest of the Infantry across all disciplines of Alpine Skiing.
The exercise began with two weeks of introductory
legs, however for five of the 2 RIFLES team it meant learning how to ski from scratch. The Riflemen took to the sport like ducks to water, heading down the slopes with an enthusiasm typical of a Rifleman. Sometimes this enthusiasm meant a few tumbles were taken in the early days, but everyone thoroughly enjoyed the professional coaching we were treated to each day. One day off in thirteen started to take its toll but all team members were able to find time to relax in the spa or more commonly in Cocoricos or La Folie Douce. For the Riflemen it meant going from not knowing how to put on a pair of skis to going down black runs in less than 2 weeks – by no means a small feat!
Christmas break followed which most of the team spent in the resort. We were all treated to a fantastic home cooked roast lunch from our very own Bugle Major Bruce Perfect which went down a storm. A well-earned rest accompanied with some leisure skiing allowed the mind and body to reset before race training began in earnest in the New Year.
New Year’s celebrations were had and enjoyed by all teams, and after the team shocked the field and came a respectable 4th place in the Fancy Dress Slalom competition, the official race training began on the 2nd January in preparation for the final week’s events. All four disciplines were covered: Slalom, Giant Slalom, Super G and Downhill. Riflemen were exposed to long, winding, fast downhill courses after less than a month on the snow and performed above all expectations and enjoyed the experience of flying down the mountain and hoping for the best!
Race week began on both the A Hill and Devel- opment Hill with 2 RIFLES fielding teams of four for each. The team put in some stellar performances, notably Lieutenant Nick Hudson who finished in the top twenty overall in the Infantry. The team finished ninth out of twenty-four teams overall – a fantastic result considering over half of the team were novice skiers. The Riflemen did themselves and the Battalion proud, enjoying the challenge of alpine skiing whilst making the most of one of the best ski resorts in the world. A testing month enjoyed by one and all – here’s to next year!
Lieutenant Charlie Rex A Company
  Combined Arms Staff Trainer,
Catterick and Exercise BRECON
SWORD, Sennybridge
2 RIFLES Battle Group Headquarters (BGHQ) began preparations for Exercise ASKARI STORM 2/19 in earnest from September 2019, and after a series of BGHQ ‘run-outs’ at Ballykinler Training Centre to shake off the planning cobwebs and refine the Battalion Standard Operating Instructions, the team deployed to Catterick Garrison in January 2019 to complete training at the Combined Arms Staff Training (North) (CAST(N)) facility. This was the first opportunity the staff had to train with the attached arms which would be deploying to Kenya in March, so everyone was eager to make the most of the opportunity. In a cold and dark planning tent, the staff completed three full planning cycles over the week, with each one becoming more detailed and considered as the feedback from the CAST(N) staff was factored in to the planning. By the final planning cycle the headquarters was running smoothly both for the planning phase and in the execution, which buoyed everyone’s confidence as we headed down to Sennybridge for Ex BRECON SWORD the following week. The feedback from the staff at CAST(N) was that 2 RIFLES was the best BGHQ to go through the training in their tenure.
It was a snowy and dark Sennybridge camp that greeted the Battalion as they arrived in the Brecon Beacons, which set an ominous tone for what was shaping up to be a demanding exercise. Exercise BRECON SWORD commenced with an inter-Platoon patrols competition in the form of the BRAMALL TROPHY, with platoons arriving into camp and being given their orders before deploying onto the area shortly afterwards. From there a series of stands were completed over 24 hours including hasty attacks, artillery fire control on the Unit Based Virtual Trainer (UBVT) system and casualty evacuation. The low temperatures (down to -10°C at night) and deep snow offered a significant challenge to the patrols and the ability to move vehicles around the area, but the resolve of the Riflemen was admirable throughout. The competition was visited on the second day by His Royal Highness The Earl of Wessex, Royal Colonel of the 2nd Battalion.
After 25 kilometres, six stands and freezing conditions, 10 Platoon, C Coy (commanded by Lieutenant Nick Hudson and Sjt Wagstaff) were declared the winning Platoon after a superb performance. The exercise then progressed onto the second phase; that of Company group level training. This was to be the last collective training the Battalion would be able to conduct prior to Exercise ASKARI STORM, and as such it was grasped with both hands. The company groups conducted demanding urban training in Caerwent, before moving back to Sennybridge and completing a force-on- force training phase which allowed the Riflemen to test their skills against a live and free playing enemy. Despite a bout of Norovirus laying low the bulk of B Coy in Caerwent for a few days, the exercise was an excellent platform to ‘test and adjust’ the Battalion’s tactics and procedures in a benign environment before heading to Kenya, where the real test would begin. The grit and professionalism of the Riflemen to operate to the highest standards despite the freezing conditions, unexpected Norovirus outbreak and accumulated fatigue is a testament to the character of those who serve in the Regiment.
Captain Will Gage, Operations Officer
  2 RIFLES Ski Team 2019

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