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Governor and Regiment’s future Commanding Officer visit troops at US camp

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Governor George Fergusson and the incoming Commanding Officer of the Bermuda Regiment Lt Col Michael Foster-Brown have paid a visit to troops training at a US Marines’ Camp Lejuene base in North Carolina.

The two were joined by Col Richard Smith, the assistant Military Attaché at the US Embassy in Washington. They spent three days touring the camp as Regiment soldiers made the most of the state-of-the-art training facilities being used during Island Warrior 13.

Mr Fergusson, Commander-in-Chief of the Regiment, and the two senior British officers watched medics being put through their paces in a hi-tech simulation lab which mimicked a disaster zone, complete with flashing lights, power failures, smoke, explosions and screams, while they battled to save the lives of casualties.

Later, they watched soldiers on the range hit targets up to 400 metres away and the Guns and Assault Pioneers work with a huge floating bridge, which extended to more than 300 metres.

“The facilities here are clearly superb and the feedback we’re getting from our US Marine hosts about the quality of training and commitment to the Regiment is very good — and they’re not just saying that to be polite,” said Mr Fergusson.

He added he was impressed by the cool heads of the medics as they fought to save seriously wounded ‘casualties’ — surrounded by noise and sometimes plunged into darkness, all under the eagle eye of US Navy instructors, also known as Corpsmen. The Navy provides medics to the US Marine Corps.

The Governor said: “They also had to take into account their own safety and that of their patient in the attack zone. The training officer asked the hosts if, based on what they had seen, they would let our people go out on patrol with their people — the answer was ‘yes’.”

Col Foster-Brown, a 20-year British Army veteran with command experience and on his first visit to a Regiment training exercise, said: “I have been reassured and impressed by the enthusiasm of the troops involved in Island Warrior 13. I am very much looking forward to working alongside them.”

Col Foster-Brown added that one of his priorities was to boost the number of volunteers in the Regiment. But he said: “Chatting to the troops, not many are volunteers, but despite that they seem to be enjoying what they’re doing.

“They seem to relish the chance to employ military skills in a very testing environment. Despite initial misgivings some of them may have had, they are pleased to be here and working very hard.

“Hopefully, they will take that back with them to Bermuda — I am convinced they get a huge amount from the Regiment in terms of personal development, leadership, team spirit, self-discipline and self-confidence.

“These are all things parents would hope for their children. Regiment training is of benefit not only to the wider Bermuda society, but to employers as well. It’s a seriously impressive camp. The range of tasks, breadth of activity and the complexity of the overall plan has been genuinely excellent.

“It’s something you could easily imagine a regular battalion of the British Army doing.”

Lt Col Brian Gonsalves, who has commanded the Regiment for four years after his original term was twice extended, said he was confident he had left the Regiment with standards in line with regular UK and Canadian forces.

“I am extremely proud of what we have achieved in the last few years. The Regiment has many fantastic, dedicated and skilled soldiers who are committed to doing their very best and who are totally dedicated to the Regiment and its mission.

“All, by continuously sacrificing their time for our Regiment and our country, make a major contribution not only in the military sphere, but to the Island as a whole.

“Lt Col Foster-Brown will inherit a well-organised, cost-effective and modern organisation and I’m sure our soldiers will show him the same dedication and loyalty as they have shown to me.”

Guns and Assault Pioneers soldiers from the Regiment pose with their US Marine colleagues at the end of a testing day using an extending floating bridge at Camp Lejeune.
Regiment Guns and Assault Pioneers (GAP) aboard a massive floating bridge used in their training at Camp Lejeune.
Governor George Fergusson, left, speaks to Ptes Saqiq Williams and Chris Parker after they successfully saved the lives of their respective 'casualties' at Camp Lejeune.
A Regiment soldier takes aim at the US Marine Corps shooting range.
Medic Ptes Chris Parker, left, and Sadiq Williams, spattered with fake blood after a simulated fight to save badly-wounded people at Camp Lejeune.
Cpl Mackie Smith, centre, prepares to shoot on the US Marines range at Camp Lejeune.
Governor George Fergusson talks to a US Marine as the floating bridge is powered across a waterway at Camp Lejeune.
Governor George Fergusson with Regiment medics outside the US Navy training centre.

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Published May 08, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated May 07, 2013 at 11:17 pm)

Governor and Regiment’s future Commanding Officer visit troops at US camp

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