After Arctic training in Norway and an exercise alongside US Marines in the States, the next challenge for Territorial Army Commando Tami Aziz, of Radstock, will be a two-week training stint with his unit in Cyprus.
The sports therapist was a founder member of 131 Independent Commando Squadron’s Engineer Field Troop when it moved to Bath five years ago. Now, the unit is marking the anniversary by launching a new recruitment campaign, hoping to attract fresh talent from many parts of the South West as well as South Wales.
Including several months out with an injury, Tami, aged 35, took three years to win the famous Commando green beret with its distinctive dagger insignia. He says that Territorial Army service has had a profound effect on his life.
“I believe it has made me a better person. Certainly, thanks to a hugely varied range of opportunities, I reckon I have learned as much in five years with the Squadron as I would have done in 15 years in civvy street.
“Twenty years ago, I could well have joined the Regulars and embarked on a full-time Army career. But I am grateful now that I left it late and joined the TA because part-time soldiering has given me the best of both worlds.”
131 Independent Commando Squadron provides combat engineer support to 3 Commando Brigade, Royal Marines, in specialist areas such as demolition, bridge building, mine warfare, field engineering, water supply and force protection.
Recruits need to demonstrate a good basic level of fitness. “But we are not looking for the finished article straightaway,” says Lieutenant Chris Harvey, a 24-year-old Bristol-based civil servant. “Main requirement is that individuals are keen and motivated and prepared to dedicate themselves to reaching the required standard.
“Of course, unlike commandos of the Regular Army, we don’t train together every day. But we are expected to perform at the same level, which inevitably means a big commitment to fitness work in your spare time.”
Ultimately, every recruit faces the formidable final commando test, which includes:
A nine-mile speed march inside 90 minutes carrying full fighting order. A six-mile endurance course through rough terrain including tunnels and an underwater culvert, followed by a four-mile run home and marksmanship test. The Tarzan assault course, ending in a rope climb up a 30ft near-vertical wall – again, in full kit. A 30-mile yomp across Dartmoor carrying a weapon and 30lbs of kit, to be completed inside eight hours.
131 Independent Commando Squadron is based at Bath TA Centre. For more information, call 01225 427 747 or click on www.army.mod.uk/royalengineers/units/853.aspx