Page 81 - The Rifles Bugle Autumn 2019
P. 81

 Fire Support Company
In February 2019, the Mortar Platoon deployed on Ex KHANJAR OMAN in support of 1 RTR. The exercise was part of an experiment to test the viability of a new training location and consisted of a force-on- force Tactical Effects Simulation (TES) phase, a live firing phase and an Adventure Training package. The Platoon was informed that they would be adopting an Anti-Tank role for the TES phase of the exercise, something that is well outside the comfort zone for a Mortar Platoon.
After landing in Duqm on the Arabian Sea, the Platoon got its first real glimpse into the countryside; extremely flat with little cover - we knew that our job of playing enemy against armour would be extremely difficult! Of particular note was the intensive pace of development in the country, with half-completed motorways and construction sites everywhere. The accommodation proved to be of a very high standard, with a well-maintained gym, WiFi for everyone and a cookhouse that would be the envy of many a unit in the UK.
The first exercise phase was playing enemy against the RTR battlegroup. The mortar platoon re-roled as an Anti-Tank platoon and operated as dismounts from Warrior AFVs. We were partnered with 1RTR Recce Platoon and it was clear from the offset that we would work well together.
For most Riflemen from the Platoon this was their first time working in Warriors and their first time in a desert environment. The initial observation was the obvious stifling heat and fine dust which seems to replace the air inside the vehicles. Outnumbered and at a significant disadvantage, the Platoon threw doctrine to the wind, heavily dispersing amongst the thin undergrowth. Using the RTR Recce Platoon as bait, we drew the blue forces into close range, chaotic engagements to good effect. During one attack through a wadi system, 15 Mortar Pl Riflemen showed their skills and tenacity by destroying all
enemy forces that had broken through the FLOT. During one of the maintenance days, Riflemen and ‘tankies’ conducted a skill swap, with Riflemen taking RTR soldiers through Close Quarter Battle lessons and the RTR familiarising the Riflemen with armour.
Clearly the highlight of the exercise for a mortarman was the Mortar live firing. The artillery battery attached to the battlegroup was highly impressed by the rates of fire demonstrated by the Platoon, which fell outside anything they had seen before. Rarely do even experienced mortarmen have the opportunity to test themselves on such sustained high rates of fire, which eventually attracted quite a crowd of interested officers. They were highly impressed to see a LCpl Mortar Fire Controller bring effective fire onto a target from 3 barrels in less than 2 minutes.
The final phase of the exercise was an Adventure Training package. This required a lengthy bus journey to Muscat but a stay in an excellent hotel by means of compensation. The first days were spent on a small island just off the coast, where the Riflemen went snorkelling with Sea Turtles and a plethora of other marine wildlife. The platoon then partook in beach games and other water sports such as kayaking and windsurfing. The deployment ended with an exploration of downtown Muscat, walking through Bazaars and visiting old forts. Ex KHANJAR OMAN was one of the most interesting deployments the Platoon has done in several years, providing excellent training and a fascinating experience for all those concerned.
Cpl Kyle Caughey Mortar Platoon
Mortars live firing in the desert
         range of activities has been made possible. The ventures have predominantly been focused on mountaineering, paddle sports, mountain biking and climbing, all of which have been conducted in some of the most outstanding locations and facil- ities Scotland has to offer. The Battalion has also benefited from some outsourced civilian-led activ- ities, including canyoning and white-water rafting. These Type 2 packages now form an essential part of the Battalion forecast of events and are an area we hope to emulate as part of our annual battle rhythm.
The Battalion has also embarked on a Type 3 mountain bike expedition to Spain, allowing 18 individuals to challenge themselves in a more dramatic and demanding setting with an increase in risk, exposure, hardship and danger - a 10-day excursion that proved both incredibly successful
and popular and something that the Battalion hopes to repeat this summer. With a long list of volunteers, it’s difficult to believe there will be any difficulty in loading this expedition.
Whilst we place a great deal of emphasis on Type 2 and 3 activity it is recognised that the requirement for Type 4 Adventure Training Courses is crucial to maintaining our numbers of correctly qualified personnel. We have continued to grow and develop our instructors from within and have recently had several personnel qualify in both mountaineering and mountain biking and we now strive to increase our paddle sport and climbing instructors to assist with the delivery of future training.
SSgt Josh Shackleton RAPTC
QMSI 3 Rifles
        THE RIFLES

   79   80   81   82   83