Regiment training amid Tropical Storm Ana
Bermuda Regiment training exercises continue in North Carolina this week, with the soldiers battling rainstorms caused by Tropical Storm Ana.
Troops braved downpours as they began a force-on-force exercise, where opposing Regiment platoons will take each other on in battle conditions designed to test their military skills and teamwork.
Almost all of the 180-plus Bermuda contingent left barracks accommodation at the US Marines’ Camp Lejeune in North Carolina on Sunday night and joined troops who have been out in the field for nearly a week.
Soldiers used laser weapons supplied by the US Marines to simulate battle conditions and slept in the field under shelters made using Regiment-issued ponchos. Sergeant-Major Rupert Lambert, who was working at B Company HQ in a wooded area in one of the massive training areas, said: “There are absolutely no complaints. The rain doesn’t seem to affect them — we train in the rain in Bermuda.”
Sgt Maj Lambert added: “The morale is fine — they’ve been here for almost a week. It’s interesting training — they’ve done live firing and they will be using a combat town and these are all facilities we don’t have at home.”
Regiment driver Craig Smith, who pilots a two ton, 6.5 litre armoured Humvee, said: “I’m having fun.”
The 24-year-old conscript, a self-employed spray painter from Warwick, added: “This is a nice break to me and it’s getting everybody bonding together, basically. It makes the two weeks go easier.”
Regiment Adjutant Major Ben Beasley, who is Operations Officer for the exercise, said: “You can see on their faces our soldiers are being challenged — but they are passing those challenges with flying colours.
“And the leadership, from Corporals up to officers, is being tested to make sure they can provide motivation.
“If it was all rest, sunshine and flowers, anybody could be out here doing this. Our soldiers will go home knowing that they’ve come through a tough test and that’s a boost to their self-respect and self-confidence that will stand them in good stead, whatever their walk of life.”
On Sunday the soldiers were joined by a group of Bermuda Police officers looking to take advantage of state-of-the-art training facilities — including a hi-tech live firing house and outdoor firing ranges far longer than are available in Bermuda.
Sgt Terry Trott, said that his officers would also assist the Regiment during the public order training phase of the two-week camp.
“The Regiment has made things a lot easier for us because when we arrived, all the facilities were booked for us and we’ve also had the opportunity to meet the right people who can be of assistance in the future,” Sgt Trott said.
Regiment Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel Michael Foster-Brown added: “The Regiment works closely with the Bermuda Police Service and we’re always looking for ways to extend that co-operation — that has been evident out on the water with our Boat Troop and at big Island events.”
On Thursday, the soldiers were given a surprise visit by Governor George Fergusson along with the UK Military Attache at the British Embassy in Washington Brigadier James Illingworth, Honorary Colonel Eugene Raynor and junior National Security Minister Jeff Baron.
Mr Fergusson said: “Everyone is having a great experience and thoroughly enjoying themselves. These are great facilities here and the Regiment is making the most of them. I’ve been round various people doing different stages of weapons training — people getting ready for an exercise and people getting ready for the firing range.
“The soldiers seem to have particularly enjoyed the weapons part and several of them have had their first lift in a helicopter, which they really enjoyed.”
Senator Baron said it was an honour for him to represent Premier Michael Dunkley during the trip, saying: “It’s good to see all that enthusiasm and to know that Bermuda’s soldiers are coming home with new friendships, new skills, new stories and a fresh outlook on their life in Bermuda.”
Earlier in the week, the soldiers practised public order techniques in the Marines’ military operations in urban terrain (MOUT) training ground at Camp Lejeune.