Page 98 - The Rifles Bugle Autumn 2019
P. 98

     Commanding Officer’s Foreword
2019, along with the rest of 20th Armoured Infantry Brigade, sees 5 RIFLES in our Training Year. As I write this, computer on lap, climbing away above Calgary Airport in Canada, I am repeating a journey familiar to at least 75% of the Battalion this summer. All three Rifle Companies have cycled through demanding exercises on the Alberta Prairie, supported by a host of additional Riflemen operating as support staff. But BATUS has been just one part of a packed, varied and fulfilling year that has seen members of the Battalion deploy to far flung places including Louisiana, Malaysia, Texas, Australia and Mali. It will also see A Company ditch their webbing to don ceremonial dress and conduct public duties in front of Buckingham Palace – a rare honour for a Rifles Battalion.
The year started with a focus on developing the foundations for the Training Year. There were Company exercises, armoured infantry cadres, a gunnery camp in Castlemartin and a Battalion Opera- tional Shooting Competition won by A Company. On the back of the shooting competition, the 5 RIFLES team formed up and went on to win the 20 Brigade Competition and finish runners up in the 3rd (UK) Division Competition. At Bisley, the team got their first ever Top Ten finish with 6 Riflemen placing in the coveted Army Top 100. Impressive stuff for a Battalion that normally prefers to fire 30mm from the turret.
During spring and summer, BATUS dominated proceedings. B Company exercised as part of the QRH Battlegroup, earning impressive plaudits from Commander BATUS and Commander 20 Brigade. A and D Companies provided a particularly devious OPFOR, relishing the freedom and opportunity to experiment that playing enemy offers. And while the Rifle Companies were busy charging around the Prairie, Battalion Headquarters were having an equally fulfilling time with major exercises in another part of Canada on Ex UNIFIED RESOLVE and in Texas on Ex WARFIGHTER. Good foundational preparation for the rigours that Malaysia is likely to offer on Ex BERSAMA LIMA in October. Rumours that BHQ staff are going to be accommodated in a smart Malaysian Hotel with a swimming pool are desperately trying to be quashed by the Ops Officer.
But developing our riflemen and junior leaders requires more than just exercises, which is why I am pleased that some of the articles in the following pages reflect the breadth of activity conducted this year. From a battlefield study in Sicily, to working with cadets and a local children’s charity, to an Armed Forces Day parade in Salisbury, 5 RIFLES have been omnipresent. Sport and adventure training have given much-needed respite and with ten adven- turous training expeditions conducted thus far this year, provided plenty of opportunity for riflemen to travel abroad. Whether hillwalking in Corsica, sailing off Croatia, mountain-biking in France or skiing in Serbia, there have been a plethora of extraordinary experiences and adventures.
As we reflect on 2019 and prepare for a return to Estonia on Op CABRIT in 2020, we have much to be proud of, as well as much to look forward to. My sincere thanks go to all those who have supported 5 RIFLES over the course of the last year.
Lt Col Andrew Ridland

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