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Reserve Forces & Cadets Association
Northern Ireland



16 July 2018

Two members of the illustrious 204 (North Irish) Field Hospital Army Medical Services Tactical Training Exercise (AMSTTE) Team speak of their experience in the competition and the training that led to them returning as Reserve Unit Champions.

My AMSTTE Experience – Cpl Rebecca Smyth

My name is Rebecca Smyth and I am currently a Corporal in 204 (North Irish) Field Hospital and a Band 5 Staff Nurse in the Royal Victoria Hospital Emergency Department. 

I have been in the Army Reserve for four years, having joined in my third year of studying Adult Nursing at Queen’s University.  I completed my Basic Training in August 2015 and my Junior CLM in October 2017.    

This was my first time taking part in the Army Medical Services Tactical Training Exercise (AMSTTE) competition, an annual military skills competition held in York.  As a Reservist I was anxious about my lack of military skills experience, however, the pre-competition training and the camaraderie within the team soon settled my nerves – it reminded me of the Army ‘Belonging’ recruitment videos.  The competition was a real challenge but I enjoyed every minute, apart from trying to get myself over the six-foot wall, thank goodness for team work. The team consisted of six males and two females and what we lacked in military experience we more than made up for with our enthusiasm and team spirit.  As the youngest member of the team I was nervous about letting the team down but I can honestly say that the whole team pulled together and helped each other through the most difficult and demanding aspects of the competition.  

I learnt a lot from the experience particularly CBRN casualty management and how to deal with major medical incidents in extreme conditions.  I now feel more confident in using these new skills and I will be able to use this knowledge in my role as Emergency Department Nurse in 204 (North Irish) Field Hospital but also in my NHS job. The competition ran over two days with a night spent in the field and we were delighted to be placed as Reserve Unit Champions, the sense of achievement made it all worthwhile and it made me proud that we won. 

I would encourage anyone who is interested in pushing themselves to take part in the competition, completing it fills you with a tremendous sense of achievement.  There may be some tears along the way but they are over shadowed by the laughs and friendships made, an amazing experience!


The Army Medical Services Tactical Training Exercise (AMSTTE) annual military skills exercise is designed to test the soldier in 2 ways; the thinking soldier and the physical soldier. This annual competition did exactly that, and more. 

Starting with a slow lead in on Friday night, things moved swiftly on the Saturday morning with a heavy boot on the accelerator. Challenge after challenge the team worked through 12 often gruelling stands. Testing everything from CBRN knowledge, to navigation patrol, observation, CPERS handling, CIED, Care under fire and more, much more! 

The competition was promoted as “back to basics”, make no mistake this was a tough and arduous feat. One of the team (ex-infantry) said “I underestimated the arduous bit”…

204’s training started well, our Permanent Staff Instructor, SSgt Rushe was at the helm and a steady helm it was.  I can honestly say that the preparation and dedication of SSgt Rushe has not been rivalled in my memory, he enthused the team and challenged us constantly with thoughtful and well executed training serials.  Over a few short weekends the team evolved, albeit with a few disappointed individuals who didn’t make the final cut of the 8 fine  soldiers that saw us through the competition.

The hard training and preparation was all worth it, if we needed convincing (which we didn’t) it came in the form of the Adventure Training that SSgt Rushe had organised for us.  A trip to Ben Nevis for some ‘esprit de corps’, however, on arrival the navigation and fitness training was less of a treat. Turning into something of a personal competition itself; we ascended and descended Ben Nevis with a serious endeavour to show the world how to do it properly!  We were in no mood to be held back, some team members found it tough but we started together and were going to finish together!  It turned out to be a challenging expedition, trekking up ‘Ben’ and along some of his more trickier ridges is not for the feint hearted.

After a group photo at the summit, I could see it in the eyes of our team, we were ready for AMSTTE!