Military Exercises

Kuwait

Me with in Kuwait I went to Kuwait for a six week Battalion exercise whilst I was posted in Cyprus. Arriving in Kuwait was an exciting experience; I had never been to the desert. It was hot when we got there even though it was dusk. The first few days were spent getting acclimatised to the weather; even thought we had came over from Cyprus there was still quite a temperature difference.

On military exercises we tend to follow the same format, start with short two or three day blank firing exercises with our own company, building up to a Battalion exercise firing live ammo. I enjoyed being in the desert, you could see for miles and get a boss tan. However, one of the most difficult things I have had to do was carry out a section attack in the wet sand whilst it was raining; if you've ever tried to run in wet sand then you will know what I mean.

It wasn't all work though because every time we go on a big exercise we usually get R&R for a week. On this occasion we would spend it in Kuwait City. Kuwait City is a vibrant and lively place, if a little bizarre. It was a shock to our western ways to see mostly men out at night holding hands. Obviously there is no alcohol allowed in Kuwait so we made the most of our time by shopping and exploring Kuwait City, oh and eating.

After we finished our R&R we got prepared for our final part of the exercise, a week long FIBUA exercise on Falayka Island in the Persian Gulf, the first place Saddam invaded in 1990 and was now completely deserted. I thoroughly enjoyed this exercise as I had never completed any intensive FIBUA training before and was surprised at how tiring it is. After six days of training 'endex' was called and we had just over a day to kill before we got on the ferry back to the Kuwaiti mainland. The way we passed the time was quite funny, gangs of scousers and mancs roaming the deserted streets of Falayka brandishing sticks and metal bars, looking for things to smash up!

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Kenya

Me with the Masai - Kenya Once again, I went on exercise with the Battalion for six weeks, on this occasion we went to Kenya. This time we were posted near Blackpool and had completed several tours of Northern Ireland, so it was a welcome change of scenery. We got off the plane in Nairobi Airport and made our way to the Battalions' base camp in Nanyuki (an equatorial town), the base had Mount Kenya as a backdrop.

Driving out of Nairobi we were to witness poverty on a scale I had not seen before, not even in Bosnia; it makes you realise how lucky you really are. As was the norm we spent the first few days getting acclimatised and zeroing our weapons before the real work started. Kenya was amazing, whilst we were carrying out patrols we would see Giraffes, Baboons and other wildlife just wandering about.

This was my first exercise as a Lance Corporal so it was good to test myself and see if I could do my job. The places we went to in Kenya were unbelievable, the scenery was breathtaking. It was slightly disconcerting when the Masai found out we were in the area as they would come and pester us for food. However, it was a surreal time, there we were, a modern army using sophisticated weapons, and there they were, tribesmen carrying spears; it was akin to looking down a time tunnel.

The exercise followed the usual pattern of starting at section level and culminating in a live Battalion attack. In the middle of all this training we had a week of R&R. I went to Lake Naivasha Game Reserve for a week. Lake Naivasha is a spectacular place, whilst we were there we went abseiling and rock-climbing, white water rafting, water-skiing and cycling.

Kenya, and indeed Africa, is an amazing place and I am positive I will return one day.

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