Page 60 - The Rifles Bugle Autumn 2019
P. 60

Snow is not often regarded as the starting point for Exercise Askari Storm, but the 2 RIFLES Battle- group found itself battling through ankle deep mounds of it in early January 2019. Having come to Sennybridge Training Area to conduct a shakeout exercise post-Christmas in preparation for Kenya we could not have found ourselves in more adverse conditions. It did however provide an excellent opportunity to extrapolate the details of exercising for extended periods of time with restricted resupply, hazardous and often impassable routes and cause contingency plans to be actioned. All these lessons proved invaluable in Kenya.
The 2 RIFLES Exercise ASKARI STORM followed the well-trodden profile of other ASKARI STORMs; Company shake out training and range packages, a round-robin of a company in defence, Combined Arms Live Firing Exercise (CALFEX - company level Live Firing Tactical Training with combined arms including artillery), infantry assault bridge training and finally two unassessed Battlegroup level missions. This all culminated in the ten-day final exercise which was assessed by British Army Training Unit Kenya (BATUK) observer mentors.
The round-robin and initial two unassessed Battlegroup missions were conducted in Archer’s Post Training Area. This swelteringly hot training area required all members of the Battlegroup to really rise to the occasion. Extreme heat during the day proved testing for not only those working at the forward edge of the Battlegroup but also the Battlegroup Headquarters staff trapped inside tents and vehicles. It was quickly realised that not only must the enemy be defeated (which proved difficult enough due to the tenacity and soldiering skills of the Queen’s Dragoon Guards who played a formidable enemy), but the environment and climate mastered. By the end of this phase however all had become extremely proficient at not only operating but also planning in the adverse conditions.
The final phase of the exercise took place in Lolldigah. This training area is rarely used by BATUK and therefore brought a whole plethora of additional planning considerations, predominantly the wildlife! It was common place for patrols on the ground to encounter elephants, herds of buffalo and lions amongst others. Recce and Sniper platoon especially became apt at not only identifying the enemy but avoiding being stalked by prides of lions. B Company Serjeant Major had a rather close encounter with a lion which saw him beating a hasty withdrawal back into the harbour area and The Commanding Officer’s Tac Group had the privilege to observe a pride of elephant moving past them only fifteen metres away. Overall there were both some slightly twitchy and incredible memories taken away and a whole host of excellent stories.
Professionally the Battlegroup excelled. Lessons were learnt at all levels early and actioned, it was clear on the final missions that all members of the BG had grown in their roles and started to hit their stride. Looking forward the Battalion is now in an excellent position to take on the challenges of Operation TORAL in 2020.
Captain Peter Henriques Regimental Signals Officer
Exercise ASKARI STORM, Kenya
Major Kilpatrick (Battalion
2IC) with the Battle Group Headquarters at the end of the exercise
 Command Post in the Kenya scrub

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