Page 88 - The Rifles Bugle Autumn 2019
P. 88

 ‘Specialising’ training for a new generation of rifleman
Brigadier James Roddis intended that through the progression of the training, the Specialised Infantry soldier should be a product of ‘learning by doing’. The first three training rotations and operational deploy- ments undertaken by the 4th Battalion developed an understanding of which elements of training were important, what needed improvement and who was best positioned to deliver specific training activity. By the summer of 2018 (as two additional battalions joined the Specialised Infantry Group) the success of this approach became a risk as training output became increasingly divergent and lessons were being re-learnt due to manning churn. In November 2018 the 4th Battalion The Rifles conducted a training estimate to review the 297 directed lines of development, to capture lessons and codify training into a 14-module standardised Specialised Infantry training syllabus. The responsibility for the delivery of the modules is aligned to the level of command that had the capacity to instruct (whether that be Group HQ, Bn HQ or Company). It was important, also, that the modules were unique to the geographical area of responsibility (geopolitical awareness, culture and language training); in our case, the Middle East.
The aim of Specialised Infantry training is to mould our riflemen into world leading combat advisors, capable of operating in a high threat environment. The eight-month modular training pipeline is progressive: it develops individuals (enhancing their partnering aptitude and teaching role-specific skills); develops collective capability (team to company); assesses each element in a mission rehearsal exercise in Kenya or Belize; and allows time for mission specific preparation for the country to which that sub unit will deploy.
Central to the new Specialised Infantry training design is the devel- opment of individuals’ rapport building and influence skills. It was operationally identified that these skills were a capability in themselves which could be leveraged to buy credibility and establish a ‘super peer’ reputation with coalition partners who were sometimes tacti- cally and resource dominant. These interpersonal abilities, assumed (like leadership) to be innate characteristics that a person may have, can in fact be taught, practised and improved with appropriate instruction. The modular training programme pioneered this devel- opment by combining the use of civilian self-awareness instructors with a week-long partnering skills course delivered by the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst Communication and Behavioural Science (CABs) department. This schooling, delivered by RMAS hostage negotiators and psychologists at the start of the training progression, focused on Dr George Thompson’s ‘5 universal truths of human interaction’ and Cialdini’s ‘psychology of persuasion’. This education, critical for empowering the Specialised Infantry soldiers as partners, also shaped relationships that developed throughout training and accelerated a cultural shift towards the mature and
mission command orientated ethos needed from our soldiers on deployment. The codified modular training design has been a useful step towards stand- ardising the Specialised Infantry training progression and defining the collective competence of the Spec Inf Team and Company Headquarters. The training objectives of the modules will be refined as the operational output of the Specialised Infantry Group matures. Providing ‘accelerated experience’ to soldiers of all ranks (to empower them to advise at a higher level of command than their own) will be a continuous challenge enabled by the selection of high calibre
riflemen from across the regiment.
Maj Henry Coltart
  Rfn Pagett provides overwatch following a successful company raid
A Coy 4 RIFLES -
Exercise Askari
Spear 2019
“You know you are truly alive when you’re living among lions.” Isak Dinesen, Out of Africa.
Exercise Askari Spear 3/19 was delivered by the 2nd Battalion Princess of Wales Royal Regiment (PWRR) in Kenya, on behalf of the Specialised Infantry Group. It was a progressive exercise, split into four phases. Phase one allowed the company to acclimatise while revising tactical actions. Phase two was designed as a four-way rotation on the Laikipia training area, with each rotation covering five days. This saw the company complete long-range patrolling while entirely self-sufficient, sourcing supplies from local villages. Five days of company offensive operations followed, before a live field firing package and a force protection exercise. The latter rotation involved a 200km road move to northern Kenya, where the company engaged with local Kenyan troops, acting as role players. This phase was certainly a testing period ahead of the main exercise, providing confidence to the company that the hard work earlier in the year had delivered results. A Coy receiving praise and positive feedback throughout.
Phase Three saw the company deploy into the undulating Lolldaiga training area for the ten-day FTX. The first five days involved arduous patrolling, with reconnaissance screens, ambushes, and engagement with local villages. The final five days saw the establishment of a patrol harbour, which had to be defended and the surrounding area dominated. The experience of walking silently into a herd of elephants, at night, while wearing night vision, certainly focussed the minds of a few riflemen. Unsurprisingly, the nocturnal disturbance was not well received by the elephants – Team 3, for the first time ever, kept up with Sjt Kirlew while

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