Territorial Army (TA) soldiers from across the South West have been training to fight on operations in built-up areas (OBUA).
Around 80 Riflemen from 6th Battalion The Rifles (6 RIFLES) – the region’s TA Infantry Battalion – were taking part in Exercise WYVERN TEMPEST, which used Imber Village part of the Salisbury Plain Training Area in Wiltshire last weekend (October 12-13).
The mission required around twenty personnel from each of A Company – Gloucester and Bristol, B Company – Taunton, C Company Dorchester & Poole and “D” Company – Truro & Plymouth, to defeat an enemy force which was trying to occupy the complex of houses and buildings.
Major Jon Penhale, 40, from Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, runs a Recruitment Company for Armed Services Leavers and is also the Training Major for 6 RIFLES following on from serving as a Regular soldier for 16 years.
“This particular exercise is the culmination of our offensive operations package,” he said.
“So what we have tried to do is combine what they have learnt from patrols and also the OBUA package, and all the skills they have learnt in the last six months they have had the opportunity to use.
He added: “The Company Commander has had the freedom of action to plan and respond to the enemy and the challenges we have had him face.
“So from his level to the most junior Rifleman everybody is getting a good training benefit.”
Amongst the TA soldiers benefitting from all of the Training Major’s planning is Rifleman Steven Morgan, 28, from Gloucester, who for the last year has been with “A” Company 6 RIFLES which is based in the City.
“This exercise requires a lot of physical effort and moving around as we offer fire-support and clear buildings.
“This is why I joined the infantry and this is the icing on the cake when we get to test and challenge ourselves in demanding environments.
“It is about really putting the hard yards in and coming away feeling like we have done the job proud.”
When not in uniform Steve is an Electrical Buyer for Honda in Swindon, Wiltshire.
“My day job day is Monday to Friday, so I know for my Tuesday evenings I can get down to the TA Centre.
“I have a good visibility of what weekends I am expected to be with the TA, so it allows me to plan my social and work life accordingly.
“Honda gives me two weeks unpaid leave to do my TA training and skills for my military career.”
In contrast WO2 Kev Pinnell, 40, from Exeter, Devon, who served in Iraq in 2004, is coming up to his 20th year in The Territorial Army, which is soon to be renamed the Army Reserve.
“We have had a proper ‘green’ weekend out and it is what we joined for and the thrill of it is fantastic,” said Kev who is Platoon Commander within “B” Company which is based in Taunton, Somerset, and also an Instructional Training Designer for AgustaWestland in nearby Yeovil.
“Being in the TA is a second job undoubtedly now and you need an understanding boss and an understanding boss at home and an understanding family.
“My kids love the fact I do this it makes them feel proud and it makes me feel proud so you have to balance it all up.
“In Basra in 2004 we were a formed Company and it was a good experience where we showed we were able to do the job.
“Since then the battalion has provided personnel for not only Iraq but Afghanistan a testament to the value we can add.
“In the future we will learn more from the full-time guys and we are looking forward to being part of that with the latest tactics and weapons.”
The training for 6 RIFLES does not stop here and already the forecast of events is busy with the next phase including another overseas training exercise, which follows on from a very successful Summer Camp in Cyprus back in June.
Also under changes announced as part of plans for the future make-up of the British Army the Battalion will work closer with Regular counterpart 1st Battalion The Rifles (1 RIFLES), which is based near Chepstow.