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Reserve Forces & Cadets Association
Northern Ireland


NEWS

QUEENS UOTC EXPERIENCE A CHILEAN ADVENTURE ON EXERCISE DYNAMIC OUTREACH

29 September 2017

3 Officer Cadets from QUOTC had the amazing opportunity of travelling to Chile for Exercise DYNAMIC OUTREACH, an insight into how Cadets at the Escuela Militar train for winter warfare and survival. Officer Cadet Sheerman gives the account of his trip below:

After 20 hours of travel from Belfast to Paris then onwards to Santiago we finally arrived in Chile. The first day consisted of meeting our hosts, some of which I already knew from my time at the Academy is March for the Bicentenary Patrols Competition, and getting showed to our bed spaces amongst the Chilean Cadets we would spend the next fortnight with. Finally we were issued with any extra kit we would require for the training that we didn’t already have such as rifles, ski kit and boots.

The next 3 days spent in Santiago were very relaxed and gave us an opportunity to explore the city, acclimatise to the heat, try some local food and experience the nightlife.

Day 4 was spent packing all of our pre-prepared kit onto the transport before ourselves getting on coaches for the 750 km journey to the South of the country to a place called Lonquimay where we would spend the next 2 weeks. Lonquimay was infinitely different to our time in Santiago as it was covered in snow and ice and was noticeably colder than the north of Chile.

That night we were split into our groups that dictated what activities we would do and when. I was placed into Group D with one of the American Officer Cadets, who I got on incredibly well with, and the rest Chileans. Our group’s first task was Randonée skiing, which is basically skis with a fur stuck to the bottom so you can push forward with the ski but cannot slide backwards and the fur grips the snow. We did this for the next 2.5 days and covered how to maintain and repair skis and furs, and how to actual ski with them on. This proved more difficult for some than others as many didn’t the necessary time and effort to appropriately dry out their furs or apply them properly. As a test of how well we had picked up the skills taught we were required to complete a 4 km Night ski and a 7 km day ski which tested our fitness, equipment care and maintenance and provided some stunning views.

The next phase for my group was the survival phase and this lasted 3 days. During this time we covered Avalanche Rescue Drills and we were tested on this several time. We also learned how to build and live in an ice cave and had to put this into practice over the next 3 days where, every day, we had to destroy our ice cave from the previous night and rebuild it, and this took around 6 hours of hard digging per day. Minimal sleep was had during these 3 days as several times a night we were “attacked” and had to quickly pack away everything, attacked snow shoes to our boots and march in the night for anywhere between 4-8km a time before returning to our ice caves. The final task of this phase was 6 km day march with full with full bergans across a few mountains and this proved difficult for some but most completed it.

The 3rd Phase for my group was a week at a ski resort where we were instructed on ski techniques (as some of the Chileans had never been skiing before) and then allowed to go down various slopes. This week provided more time to bond with our Chilean and American counterparts and gave a lot of laughs as people fell whilst skiing. 

On one of the mornings the Commandant of the Academy kindly hosted us (The foreign cadets) for breakfast where he asked what we thought of his country, the Academy and the Cadets before we returned to our respective activities.

Our time in Lonquimay ended when, penultimate challenge , was to conduct an intense 12 km Randonée ski over the mountain range with one of the Chilean Army’s General, who was the equivalent of CGS for the Chileans. Ultimately we completed a 16 km final March which ended at a beautiful waterfall (pictured) before being presented with Medals for our achievements from the Academy Director.

One final night in Santiago concluded an amazing and honestly once in a lifetime opportunity, which we spent taking in the sights and had a few drinks before getting a pizza and returning to the Academy to pack for our departure the next morning.

Overall an amazing, once in a lifetime trip that everyone should be fighting to go to should the opportunity arise again.

OCdt Sam Sheerman