It’s a military saying that no plan survives contact…and that’s just as appropriate on an exercise as it is for the real thing, and another saying is train hard, fight easy…
Well we certainly trained hard today. We knew that on that patrol we’d be ‘ contacted’ by the ‘enemy’ and of course it happened.
We were in trees, a good simulation of the ‘Green Zone’ of Afghan, areas of dense woodland right by the rivers, and spotted, across an open field someone on the fenceline watching us. As we held eyes-on and moved forward on our patrol, we suddenly came under fire from our front.
Now, this is an exercise, but our deployment date is getting closer, so instantly the adrenaline kicked in, we went to ground, and the front members of the patrol returned fire. And it was here that I screwed up. Instead of going left, I moved three steps right and ended up separate from my firing partner. This caused a bit of chaos for us both, and it took me a moment or two to stabilise my position in the ‘fire team’. Eventually I got into a position and tried to take aim, only to see nothing…only trees!
But behind me, all hell was breaking loose. The DS (Directing Staff) shouted ‘RPG’ and then let off a flash-bang to simulate a rocket propelled grenade exploding. He turned to the nearest of our team to him and said ‘Casualty. Both legs, fragmentation injuries.’
Another in the team ran to the lad and administered first aid, and then received help from a second bloke. The rest of us returned fire…well, I tried to but again I could see nothing.
Until I moved position slightly to the base of a tree and all of a sudden got sight of the enemy who had contacted us, moving down towards us down a ditch. I yelled out a target indication, and fired on the enemy; where this came from in me I don’t know, in the past my target indication has been rubbish, but this time it worked, and I was joined in firing, by another rifle.
The ‘enemy’ went to ground behind a fallen tree and occasionally he tried to pop his head up, only for me to pop a couple of rounds off. This kept him pinned down and the rest of the team were able to get our pretend injured man onto a makeshift stretcher and drag him away.
And that drag was hard. We rotated around on the stretcher to drag the lad over 500m…and to say we were hanging by the end of it is an understatement…I only actually dragged him for about 50m and felt my strength being sapped…
But it got me thinking. It was meant to get me thinking. It concentrates the mind as to what we may potentially go into out in theatre and that I need to seriously up my game. It’s trite and easy to say I need to switch on more, but it’s true.
Cos out there the injuries people can get aren’t simulated.