Page 78 - The Rifles Bugle Autumn 2019
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Ex Saif Sareea 3
In November 2018 3 Platoon were given the oppor- tunity to join the 1 Mercian Battlegroup being deployed to Oman on Ex SAIF SAREEA 3 (SS3). Ex SS3 was a huge bilateral exercise between the British and Omani militaries, and involved over 70,000 Omani and 5,500 British military personnel. Not only would this represent the largest exercise most of us had ever taken part in, but it was also the first time the majority of us had worked with armour, having previously always operated as light-role or mechanised infantry.
Coming straight off the back of Ex WESSEX STORM we had a tight turnaround, with only two days to prepare, before deploying to Oman. We arrived in Oman in early October, allowing us a couple of weeks to acclimatise to the searing desert heat and familiarise ourselves with the Warrior vehicles which would be our homes for the next 6 weeks. Dealing with the heat was something that had been talked about in depth prior to our deployment. However for those of us who had never been to the Middle East, it was still a shock and a learning process to operate in temperatures often reaching 50 degrees centi- grade. Familiarising ourselves with the Warriors and armoured tactics proved significantly less painful than acclimatising to this heat. We discovered that our battalion’s recent conversion from Light Role to Mechanised infantry had provided us with inval- uable transferrable knowledge which served us well throughout the course of the exercise.
Sufficiently acclimatised and prepared, we stepped off from the relative comforts of the huge assembly area in the north of the country and embarked southwards towards the coast. We would be clearing a number of enemy positions on route, covering massive distances at a time. It quickly became apparent that 3 Platoon’s recent experience on Ex WESSEX STORM gave us a head start - the Platoon had been operating together in the field for the last six weeks, and this had bred familiarity down to section and fire team level. We underwent
Dawn over the Omani desert
offensive and defensive phases during the course of this clearance south and the Riflemen operated effectively to an extremely high standard throughout, with their professionalism being noted by many from across the Battlegroup. An individual mention must go to Cpl Bond, who was awarded the Commanding Officer’s Coin for his actions during this phase of the exercise. During a night move, the Warrior Cpl Bond and five other Riflemen were in drove into a deep wadi which hadn’t been identified by the vehicle commander or driver in the dark. The commander, driver and gunner were all casualties and required urgent casualty evacuation to receive medical attention. Cpl Bond immediately took control of the situation, ensured the casualties received first aid and rapidly coordinated their evacuation.
Having completed the clearance and arrived in our final location, we were then given the oppor- tunity to undergo adventure training, doing activ- ities which ranged from wadi-trekking to sailing and snorkelling. This was a well-earned break for the entire platoon who had worked incredibly hard, not just on Ex SS3 but also for the six weeks prior. The exercise gave us a hugely valuable insight into an Armoured battlegroup, operating within a much larger context, in which we not only gained some incredible experience but in which the Riflemen and their section commanders distinguished themselves as highly professional soldiers, able to effectively operate outside of their field of expertise.
Lt James McAllister
Officer Commanding 3 Platoon
At the start of 2019, 2 Platoon were fortunate enough to deploy to Kenya on Ex ASKARI STORM as part of the 2 RIFLES Battle Group - a rare opportunity for a Mechanised Battalion who are more accustomed to Ex WESSEX STORM on Salisbury Plain.
After a rapid turnaround from a Dismounted Situa- tional Awareness Trial, the platoon deployed out into the heat and immediately begun their acclima- tisation, Live Fire Tactical Training (LFTT) and most importantly growing their moustaches for a ‘rubbish tache competition’, with early disqualification swiftly dealt to Cpl Depledge for his pre-emptive growth. The LFTT phase allowed the men to get to grips with their new unfamiliar surroundings and to get to know their neighbours from the animal kingdom for the next eight weeks. Free TCV safaris were laid on at no cost each day as we transited to various ranges, allowing the men to get up close and personal with giraffe, zebra and elephant, although for Rfn Collins the local cows proved to be of most interest.
Excitement peaked when fires broke out on the ranges and the Riflemen-turned-firefighters battled blazes, with Rfn Donnelly getting a little too close for comfort and Rfn Kavanagh being saved from cooking off rounds by an energetic Kenyan. The culmination of the LFTT package saw the Company attack two large positions, with the Platoon providing the break-in on both.
Completion of LFTT saw the men fully integrated into A Company 2 RIFLES and set up for success for the remainder of the exercise. Company training followed, with a three-way package testing offence, defence and enabling actions. As Mechanised Infantry, 3 RIFLES delivered vehicle lessons to the rest of the Company. Special mention must go to LCpl McCullough, whose frankly evil obstacle plan prevented the enemy capturing a single trench, a feat not seen by BATUK staff before.
After an all too short maintenance day, the exercise entered the Battle Group phase. Throughout the

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