Colchester-based paras have faced up to one of the Army’s toughest tests. A team from 2 PARA came away with a silver award after taking part in Ex Cambrian Patrol – a mind-and-muscle sapping challenge over 48 hours in the Welsh Black Mountains.

The annual event is a highlight in the calendar with more than 1,000 troops participating in 100 teams from Regular and Reserve units of the British Army, as well as overseas entrants. The exercise is split into seven phases with teams marching 55km carrying full personal kit and equipment, weighing in at some 60lbs, on the two-day patrolling mission. Navigating both by day and night, the patrols face many challenges including observation and reconnaissance of enemy forces, river crossings in full kit without access to boats, fi rst-aid and defensive shooting under attack. The teams’ military skills, stamina and dedication are constantly evaluated with gold, silver orbronze medals or certificates of merit awarded. 2 PARA was one of 37 teams awarded silver medals for their performance.

Pte Connan Cuthbertson, said: “I always wanted to join the Army, since I was young. This will be hard graft but it’s nothing the Paras can’t handle. We’re used to this kind of challenge and it’s a good bit of phys (physical fitness) for us. I got called to do this last week so it was a bit last minute, but I’m fit and ready to go. You want to test yourself on military skills, fieldcraft and fitness, because that’s what soldiering is all about.”

Pte Stephen Riley, said: “I think this will be a good training exercise and the fact that so many teams from around the world enter tells you something. We’re expecting a mixed bag to be thrown at us to see how we cope, on top of the recce patrols and section attacks. It’s a long distance with a lot of weight and I’m not too worried about  coping with things like sleep deprivation – you just have to push through that and it’s part of the job.”

The event has been running since 1959 and is run by 160 (Wales) Bde on the Sennybridge Training Area in south Wales.

Organiser WO2 Stephen Eaves said: “This year’s event has been another big success and there were a record number of initial entrants. There is a huge amount of work that goes into making this exercise as realistic and demanding as possible. It’s the ultimate challenge for the modern-day soldier and patrols who complete Cambrian can be rightly proud of their achievements. For those who may have fallen short, the opportunity is always there to enter next time.”


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