Week 41: EndEx, Berets and Champagne!

The final week of Exercise Dynamic Victory. Long insertion tabs with half the world on your back, night raids, fighting in cave systems, storming urban complexes, having tanks in your platoon orbit, attacking two towns, black hawk casualty evacuations and the ominous Bavarian summer!

The exercise was too packed. We have heard that DV is an unrealistic exercise because very rarely would you have as many resources as we did, or have as many issues as we did! It was non-stop which in an odd way helped with the sleep deprivation as you only really get tired when you have the chance to stop and think about it.

My favourite moment? I had two.

The first was a night raid on a potential weapons cache which also happened to be a cave system. It was nothing like the Close Quarter Battle drills that we have been taught for urban complexes. It was dark, noisy and confusing. It would have been very easy to have been separated from the rest of the raiding party if it were not for out communication. On some levels we have the chance to use new pieces of kit such as night vision and lasers! Personally, I just took to using grenades at every opportunity, why not eh?

The second is an obvious one, the last hour of exercise! I was the platoon sergeant, our platoon had occupied some houses and we being used as a fire support base for the final enemy position in our battle groups area. We were burning through magazines like there was no tomorrow. One of the chaps in the platoon is a jock and he somehow managed to smuggle his bagpipes with him and was playing them from the rooftop as we gave both cylinders to the enemy. Then the final position is taken, the word EndEx slowly begins to echo through the town, now littered in armoured fighting vehicles, remnants of grenades and spent bullet cases.

The course forms a hollow square in form of our commandant, Major General Nanson. We can now officially wear our new regimental beret and it feels so good; my beret was somewhat crushed as it had been at the bottom of my daysack, but I managed a quick two minute moulding session with a bottle of water. The moral component is high, now for the physical! Everyone has heard of the champagne breakfast, but what I expected was some cheap Lambrini with a sausage and bacon; that was not what we received. Walking into a church, which just hours before hand, I had used as a casualty centralisation point and it was now full of food: a carved watermelon, pancakes, full English, black pudding, selection of cooked meats, a cheese board and of course, champagne! It tasted divine!

Once the exercise was complete we had a 24-hour cool down period as it were. We were given four hours in Nuremberg and we all went to visit the museum. Followed by a Segway drive around a lake and beer and bratwurst. It was a fantastic exercise and memories I shall take with me forever.