During the Combat Infantry Course (CIC), there are different exercises that test physical and mental limits of trainees. Exercise Defence proved to be one of the most gruelling moments of my life.
Exercise Defence was a challenging fieldcraft exercise held on week 30 of our CIC for Recruit Intake 23. The exercise was held on Otterburn Training Area which was different to the other training area that we were deployed on previous exercises. As we arrived in the area, our platoon commander sighted our fire team trenches in our Main Defensive Area (MDA) and we started preparing our four men trench.
The first half company were quite disadvantaged because our MDA was over a 1km away from the main road. We had to carry all the necessary resources from the main road to the MDA which took a while for us to set the conditions initially. Concurrently, we started de-turfing surface and soon we started digging the four men trench. Digging was initially fun as four of us continuously worked on digging the trench. However, as we continued to dig, we became exhausted. None of us realised how challenging it is to dig a 7.6m long,1.6m deep trench with just a shovel and pick heads. The weather added more difficulties, throughout the night we faced freezing temperatures and down pours. The permanent staff played an essential role in guiding us through the toughest hours of the night.
After digging through the night, we finally met the criteria. Then we started setting up our trenches. We finished our trenches by setting up firing bays and finally re-turfing the area to camouflage it with the surroundings. We completed our trenches within 36hrs. Our hard work paid off; we were super excited to experience to live in trenches. However, our expectation did not meet the reality. Living in the trench became another challenge for us, as it was our first time. It was very congested inside which made us difficult to conduct our administration. However, it protected us from the strong wind and from rain to some extent.
On our fourth day, a scenario of a chemical attack took place and we had to put Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) suits and respirators. Our defensive posotions became untenable, so our Platoon Commander decided to withdraw. We then moved in our CBRN suits with all our equipment. On the last day we conducted a platoon attack. I believe it went well as per our Platoon Commander plan and we surprised the enemies with the dawn attack. Our Platoon aggressively cleared the trenches and so did other sections and re-occupied our MDA.
Exercise Defence was one of the hardest challenges I have ever experienced. It tested physical and mental strength. We shared stories and laughed with each other in the trenches that will be memories for my life. I found a sense of pride and accomplishment in completion of the this tough exercise.
By Trainee Rifleman Alon Rai, 2 Platoon