7 AIR ASSAULT BATTALION REME
EX EAGLES SHAKEOUT 2 CT 1/2 training exercise on STANTA, 10 – 14 February 14.
The aim of the exercise was to conduct company level CT1 and CT2 training in order to best train the 8 Field Company (Para) to be proficient in trade and military skills as well as to reinstall the “solider first” ethos. This was to be achieved through coaching (provided by other elements of HQ Coy) and testing in the field.
A small airborne contingency of the company deployed early Monday morning with the goal to parachute drop onto a predetermined Drop Zone (DZ), clear the route in and secure a safe harbour area for the company’s base of operations.
At 1200hrs on 10 Feb 14, me and five others from the company jumped onto the DZ from just 600ft in an overhead assault, luckily for us the weather held off and the DZ provided a very soft landing for most. Whilst patrolling off the DZ we came under contact from a well placed enemy position. Needless to say we fought our way through their position winning the fire fight and obtained a taste of things to come.
We secured the route, moved in and secured the harbour on the edge of the harrier landing strip. Upon the company’s arrival we quickly set about deploying the base of operations which involved putting up the tents, camouflaging the vehicles and digging in reinforced sentry positions.
The following day the two made up Platoons, Forward (Fwd) Pl and Support Pl, set out from the main harbour. We patrolled to the training stand to carryout refresher training on Platoon harbours, Section and Platoon level attacks as well as setting up and springing ambushes. Once the days training had come to a close we patrolled back to the harbour to receive our first set of patrol orders.
Each JNCO in the different Sections took it in turns to carry out the role of Section Commander and 2IC ensuring everyone got a fair crack of the whip. I was given command of Fwd Pl, Section 2 for the remainder of the day till 0900hrs the following morning, an opportunity I wasn’t going to squander.
Fwd Pl was given the task to carry out a reconnaissance, secure and occupy a patrol harbour away from the main body to provide cover from the east. Upon occupying the new harbour we received orders for an ambush that was to be set for the early hours of the morning. Luckily for us the weather held off and the full moon helped the patrol navigation greatly, but never the less we must have had bad intelligence because the enemy walked straight though the ambush whilst the trip flares were still being set. This did no deter our vigour as we put down an impressive rate of fire, killing all enemy within the kill zone. Objective complete we patrolled
back to the harbour for our well deserved three hours rest.
The following day we returned to the main harbour and I handed over my IC role and adopted the role of 2IC just before we received new orders. To carry out a platoon level attack on a well established enemy position that just so happened to be on the other side of a river which, to no ones surprise given the current rainfall, was already bursting its banks. Still undeterred we pressed on and through a very successful platoon level attack on a well embedded enemy. After the assault we received intelligence over the net that the enemy had flanked us and booby trapped the route we used to cross the river with IED’s, forcing us to return to the main harbour via a different route. This just happened to go straight though a deeper section of the river. To add insult to injury the weather took a turn for the worst, with sideways rain and winds with gust upward of 40 mph.
On return to the main body we received news that the AATF had been stood up for the floods, therefore the exercise had to be cut short and the decision had been made to head back to camp first thing in the morning. Just enough time for one more ambush…
After a much more successful ambush, and a night trying to sleep in the middle of a winter storm, the highly successful Exercise came to a close, much to the disappointment of all those who participated.
Cpl Wright, 8 FD COY (PARA)