After a three-week Easter break, 70 Squadron organised a Section competition - Exercise CHADKE SECTION 21.
This was to test individual’s Soldier First Syllabus skills and leadership across a range of military activity. All tasks were aimed at section level and the training was in preparation for future operational commitments.
Nine sections took part in the competition, including a Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers section that rose to challenge the eight Gurkha sections. Although the sections came mentally and physically prepared for the challenging terrain of the Pippingford Park and Ashdown Forest training Area, they were initially unaware that adverse weather conditions were also expected. The exercise was organised with ten stands where the highest scoring section would be declared the winner.
The competition began with a night navigation activity, challenging the sections to navigate and collect as many check points as they could during a rainy, windy, and pitch-black night within 90 minutes. Fire teams were separated to navigate different routes: route red and blue. There were total of nine checkpoints to be collected by each fire team. My section (one section) collected a total of nine check points; however 15 points were deducted for being three minutes over the deadline. Only four section collected the maximum of 9 check points within the allocated time.
Subsequent activity included section attacks, command tasks, the Officer Commanding’s stand, weapon knowledge, scattered mines, battlefield casualty drills, vehicle recovery, Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN), signal stand and a final run in. The competition was closed with the completion of the final run. I particularly enjoyed the final run for two reasons: First, our section was one of the fittest sections in the competition, and secondly, it also led us to end of exercise! Sections had to run 7.62km across the undulating terrain of the training area in fighting order.
The competition concluded with prize giving ceremony. Our section performed well with consistency throughout the competition, which led to us being rewarded the title of champion Section for Exercise CHADKE SECTION 21 and was awarded with the Kotimara Khukuri. The award carries a huge significance as it was presented to 70 Squadron by the last Gurkha Captain, Major (Retired) Rajen Gurung. Sapper Subodh Rana was awarded the prize of best Sapper of the competition.
Despite the challenging conditions, all sections completed the exercise with no injuries which was a remarkable achievement. The exercise refreshed and tested our basic infantry knowledge in adverse settings which we had not had the opportunity to do for some time. The training objectives were met, and all participants enjoyed the competition.
By Sapper Suraj Rai, Queen’s Gurkha Engineers