AROUND 750 soldiers have taken part in Exercise Cambrian Patrol. The exercise is a World Class event and it is open to all three services with regular, UOTC, reserve and international patrols and is considered one of the most arduous and prestigious military events, testing candidates’ leadership, field craft, discipline and both mental and physical robustness.
Set up over 50 years ago by Welsh reservists, patrol teams of eight are required to cover over 50km on foot carrying an average of 30kg over the most unforgiving Welsh terrain in less than 48 hours.
The exercise is delivered by HQ 160 Infantry Brigade on behalf of CLF. Cambrian Patrol is arduous and concentrates on leadership, teamwork, physical fitness and achieving the mission.
The Cambrian Patrol is an exercise and not a competition. It is conducted for the benefit of units and there is no final order of merit. The exercise is designed to be within the capability of any well-led and well-trained patrol from any Army or Service. The exercise is the same for Regular and Reserve Forces and also draws participants from foreign countries.
Wyn Jones (pictured) is the Command Officer, originally from Ponthenri but now living in Swansea. Wyn has been involved with Cambrian Patrol for more than 18 years. He says that the event has changed over the years and now incorporates a lot of technology.
Speaking about the patrol Wyn said: “This is an amazing area. I have been involved for around 18 years. It has changed a lot in that time. There is more technology involved now and certainly a greater focus on health and safety.
“We used to do the river crossings without life support They now have a rope and a support boat. It used to be called the Cambrian March. It was a yomp between stands. It was changed to a patrol in 1981.
“The participants have to have basic skills but the guys in the teams are at the top end of knowing their subject matter. There is a kit list and statutory stuff to take and the kit is a lot better now.
“The situations they find themselves in a very realistic. We have a lot of ex veterans who have lost limbs and take part in the exercises. It is very realistic. I am a building surveyor with Swansea City Council. I joined the TA’s and have around 31 years of military service. I have enjoyed it and it is one of the most prestigious events in the world.”
Each patrol is set within the context of a realistic scenario which often involves patrols having to traverse enemy territory, interact with friendly and not so friendly civilians or militia groups. Patrols are de-briefed on everything they encounter on the route during a tactical debrief upon reaching the end of their mission.
Cameron Duncan (pictured) is from Withybush. He now lives in Cardiff and is studying at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. Cameron has been with the reserves for two years and it is his first time on the patrol. He said: “It is a very tough course. It is extremely challenging and you need endurance to push through. Trying to get across these mountains isn’t easy, it is a tough terrain. It is not an individual effort it is all about team work.”
The aim of The Cambrian Patrol is to provide a challenging patrols exercise in order to enhance operational capability.
Patrols are required to undertake a number of ‘tasks’ on their route, each testing a different aspect of soldering e.g. Navigation, first aid and casualty evacuation, CBRN, recognition of aircraft, vehicles and equipment and a tactical river crossing to name but a few.
Keith Morris (pictured) is from Upper Killay in Swansea is 52 and appears to be as fit as a fiddle. He has to be to have completed this his ninth Cambrian Patrol. He said: “It is very tough right from the start. Moral goes down on occasions but you pick yourself up. The weight is a killer. What we experience on the patrol is what they would experience in the theatre. I work for Swansea City Council in the outdoor events team. I dedicate around one day a week to the reserves.”
Although Exercise Cambrian Patrol is not a competition, points are added or deducted depending on performance, time and conduct whilst on the patrol with medals or certificates awarded depending on their score. An award ceremony takes place at Senny Bridge.