At 1800 hours on Friday 11th March ten Churcher’s cadets from 5th Year to Upper Sixth checked onto Longmoor Camp for the 11 h Brigade Military Skills Competition. Led by Sgt Major Holly Giles and 2i/c Sgt Bas Taylor, our cadets operated as an Army Section, organised as two Fire Teams. Issued with rifles and sustained on dinner from a 24-hour Operational Ration Pack, the team bedded down in sleeping bags on the wooden floors of the spartan SF Base accommodation.
Reveille sounded at 0600 Saturday morning, and the cadets packed bergens and breakfasted on ORP in the compound before patrolling out around Longmoor Camp to complete a one-hour scored activity at each of seven stands at specified times. Our first stand at 0800 was Casevac (Casualty Evacuation). A downed helicopter and an artillery damaged railway siding provided the scenarios confronting the team, who secured perimeters, searched for casualties, conducted triage, applied CPR, field dressings and splints before stretchering the survivors to safety.
On to Navigation where the squad divided into pairs to work against the clock on four challenges in distance and direction, route cards and O/S map-skills. The Scorpion air rifle stand comprised scored shoots from prone and kneeling position at 10m, with one cadet shooting as his or her partner spotted using binoculars. The next stand was Command Tasks, where the squad were confronted by two challenges – crossing a toxic river to deliver medical kits using rope and planks to span a broken bridge, and constructing a device to transport various sized objects securely across a ravine.
A short break for lunch (with little time to heat anything) and on to the Section Attack, where the squad demonstrated their section battle drills with the cadet rifle and blank ammunition (a generous 60 rounds each) by patrolling in to hostile territory, responding to fire, working as fire-teams to advance under covering fire, suppressing the enemy and regrouping. The Paintball stand comprised a Pairs-Fire Manoeuvre patrol lane, gathering intel along a woodland track while engaging pop-up targets, and a shooting gallery with an assortment of targets from the man-size figure 11 target to the more challenging Yakult bottle.