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Soldiers Hone Urban Operations Skills at Disused Hospital

Soldiers in Wales completed a complex training exercise at a disused hospital as part of a course shaped to develop the British Army’s future infantry sergeants.

The Infantry Battle School in Brecon was able to utilise the facility thanks to its excellent contacts with private land owners in the area.

More than 3,000 students a year receive the world-class training at the Dering Lines facility, but would normally use the nearby Sennybridge Training Area and its urban operations village for this kind of activity.

However, the opportunity to use the former, abandoned hospital in Talgarth, Mid Wales, was too good to turn down and instructors chomped at the bit to design a field exercise to polish the tactical military nous of personnel.

The soldiers were able to experience challenging innovative scenarios in a unique setting, preparing them for “real-world operations” Capt James Raschen - Senior Division Ops Officer

 Captain James Raschen, Senior Division Operations Officer, said the soldiers were able to experience challenging innovative scenarios in a unique setting, preparing them for “real-world operations”.

“The Platoon Sergeant’s Battle Course trains future infantry sergeants to command and administer teams of up to 30 soldiers,” he said: 

“The course typically uses Sennybridge Training Area for field exercises but we’ve recently begun conducting tactical actions on public land with consent from land and business owners. Through this public support, senior soldiers with 8-15 years infantry experience are exposed to more complex, realistic and varied environments.

“There are 70 soldiers on the course who have formed a COVID safe bubble. The exercise scenario involved defeating an insurgent held training camp, moving across local farm land before successfully completing their mission. Operating through complex vacant buildings cluttered with debris and furniture provided the ideal test of students’ ability to communicate with, and understand, where their teams were located, whilst avoiding becoming simulated casualties.

“Having moved from the site to the pickup point, all students received a digital after-action review whereby the school’s instructors and students reviewed their performance and discussed the lessons identified.

“Returning to their base locations throughout the UK and as far away as Brunei, the soldiers have received valuable experience preparing for potential real world operations, whilst also gaining an insight into unique and exciting training opportunities that can be employed to develop their junior soldiers at parent units.

“The school is grateful to the owners of the site for permission to train and is continuing to look for other opportunities to train on public land and further reinforce our community ties. Wales’ outstanding training areas have long since developed the British Army’s finest soldiers and continues to do so.”

The school is also thankful to Welsh Government for recognising the importance of such training and in conjunction with 160th (Welsh) Brigade, allowing the use of this location during the COVID restrictions.