Introduction to 77 Brigade
Introduction to Human terrain and strike ops
First week back of senior term, fourteen weeks to push! I say that but my training will not be complete then, not by a long shot! But, I will most definitely be commissioned and out of Sandhurst! From what I have understood so far, Junior term focuses on basic soldering skills and an exposure to the orders process, whilst intermediate term looks to develop on the orders process and consider offensive and defensive operations, aka, war fighting. So what is left to study in senior term? Well during a brief it was highlighted that for the most part the British Army is not involved in war fighting. Since the Second World War, we have had some wars, but for the most part we have been involved in what is known as COIN, or counter-insurgency operations. Therefore senior term aims to focus on the contemporary operating environment.
Our orders process has now been made considerably more difficult; whereas last term we could guarantee that we would be facing an entrenched position with a T90 or BTR 80 in support which inevitably would be solved by having a javelin rocket screen for the tank, whilst a marksman fixes the enemy position and we send forth a section of highly trained infanteers to bayonet their way through the enemy, supported by a general purpose machine gun. Well, contemporary operations are not like that, we do not have the freedoms of that scenario, their is a civilian population to take into consideration, non-governmental organisations, local police forces, local insurgents and the host nations military; all of that now needs to be considered in our orders process. And when we realised that, there was not one officer cadet in the hall who sat their and it did not bother them, everyone was guaranteed to be in quaking fear of how much more difficult things were about to become!
We were also introduced to 77 Brigade, a newly formed brigade whose mission is to use non-lethal engagement and legitimate non-military levers as a means to adapt behaviours of the opposing forces and adversaries. In layman’s, defeat the enemy before the trigger necessarily needs pulling, or if failing that, loading the battle-space in our favour.
So far the week was fairly relaxed, it was admittedly briefing after briefing by various different organisations such as the red cross or experts in COIN or the media, but, there was one thing to get the adrenaline pumping in the later half of the week… Bayonet rages!
In the morning of the bayonet day the lines were filled with a selection of blood pumping music, such as ‘Let the bodies hit the floor’ or ‘War Machine’ and other classics of that nature. We were then taken to an open field lined with dummies. We spent a fair while crawling around the floor from pillar to post and then rehearsed the various different techniques of bayoneting another human being ranging from bayonet fixed on the rifle to bayonet in the hand. Then, after a series of hill sprints and hill crawls we moved onto the actual bayonet range. The range itself is not an open field. It is a tight woodblock interspersed with trenches and tunnels. It is an individual event, as you can assume, no one really wants to enter a closed woodblock with someone who has been hyped up to stab another human for the last few hours. The colour sergeants throw some abuse at you for a while, you are lying face down in the mud screaming out “KILL KILL KILL” and then you get released into the woodblock. It is a somewhat primeval event, if you remember the blog about the hunter nature that they try and install in you, then it is at this moment that you most feel it whilst charging through the woods looking for potential enemy to stab multiple times. Crawling through tunnels and trenches, they through a fair few smoke grenades and battle simulation explosions in the wood block to keep that feeling going, there is also the sound of machine gun fire raging around you. The last phase of the bayonet range involves moving silently through a stream with an enemy at the other end. For this I chose to back sling my rifle, hold my bayonet in my hand and slowly swim down the stream to creep up on the enemy position and then pounce.
Some may think that bayonets are not used anymore, truth is, if you speak to serving soldiers, they were still being used in Afghanistan, it is a primeval way to not only kill the enemy, but scare them into submission. No one wants to hang around whilst a platoon of British soldiers comes charging down on them with bayonets gleaming and a loud roar over-head. Bayonets are without doubt, the business end of our careers, they are said to be the most reliable piece of kit that we will ever be issued, and this, I certainly believe!