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Reserve Forces & Cadets Association
Northern Ireland



26 June 2015

When the idea of a weekend’s training at Ballykinler doing Public Order training was initially floated, most people immediately packed their waterproofs.  The rest packed theirs once the more experienced explained about the sideways rain which appeared to be a particular feature of Ballykinler. Thus, a surprise for all when 400 Sqn assembled for the welcome brief and sunscreen was needed.  

The weekend consisted of an introduction to Public Order training; troop strength tactics, crowd dispersal lessons, kit and clothing confidence serials and a confirmation exercise culminating in a force on force public disturbance.  The escalation of the training from the instructors progressed rapidly and soldiers found themselves trusting in the fitted visors before they had lunch on the first day – the warnings about free dentistry work courtesy of thrown debris were taken seriously.  This force-on-force exercise saw two troops run through a series of escalations leading to a riot with the Troop Commander having to then negotiate with the leader of the rioters to a peaceful resolution.

For the team that went first it was a baptism of metaphorical fire and allowed the second team the chance to watch through the CCTV how the scenarios evolved.  While the second team marched forward confident of the coming few hours, the troops playing the rioters had warmed up and knew what to expect, therefore a hard couple of hours followed.  

The reason 152 (North Irish) Regt RLC, the Army’s only Fuel Regiment is donning protective equipment and throwing wooden blocks at each other is the deployment on Op TOSCA in March 2016 that a Squadron of 54 will fill.  The 152 Regt personnel will be providing the Mobile Force Reserve for the entire 6 month deployment, expected home late September 2016.

This task, combined with the Regiment’s re-role and the deployment to Denmark in September 2015 for the Annual Deployment Exercise (ADE), has placed a greater emphasis on the volunteer ethos of the Reserve soldier. The breadth of experience that comes with a Reservist continues to astound. Students have added fire-fighting techniques and a hazardous materials qualification to growing CVs whilst studying at university; re-trades from being a professional driver have completed the two week Reservist Petroleum Operator course.  These are just two examples of volunteers conducting recognised, qualifying military training in their spare time and being paid for it.

152 Regt has further stepped up to the mark, attending local events throughout Northern Ireland to boost recruiting under the guiding hand of the recruiting team who have been driving hard to raise the profile of the Reservist.  Recent efforts have seen an increase in volunteers and expressions of interest in the unique capability that 152 Regt offers to both the public and to ex-Regulars looking to re-engage with the Forces.  Of particular interest to the Regt is anyone looking at settling in Northern Ireland.  An ex-Regular’s commitment of only 27 days a year to get the bounty remains a popular way to keep some old skills going whilst settling into civilian life, and this message is getting out across the Corp.

Outside of preparing for an overseas capability confirmation exercise, recruiting and donning riot gear, 152 Regt continues to seize opportunities to get its people away for Adventure Training. RHQ managed to get away for some fun, with Capil Curig in Wales hosting rock climbing, hill walking, mountain biking and white water rafting as part of a multi-activity week.  As ever a natural competitiveness sprung up and the handover/takeover from the outgoing Adjutant to the incoming Adjutant culminated with a race up a mountain that no ones’ legs won. 

211 Sqn, based in Londonderry, also managed to get away for Adventure Training with the Sqn Commander taking members of the squadron on Ex SPEYFINN, a weekend in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. The group summated Ben Macdui at 1309m and tried their hand at white water rafting, which proved that soldiers can enjoy being soaked to the skin – provided there’s the opportunity to laugh at someone else while you do it.  In the words of one happy soldier ‘Was it worth the 10 hour journey? Absolutely’.