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Minister for the Armed Forces visits NATO's toughest test

There's not been a drop of rain in sight during the opening phases of Exercise Cambrian Patrol, but there were a shower of silver medals during the Phase Two presentation ceremony in Sennybridge.

And there to witness the success of both British units and international teams was Minister for the Armed Forces, James Heappey MP.

He had earlier visited the Patrol Base in Crickhowell during the Phase Four preparation and rollout in the Assembly Area.

Phase One of the event began on Friday, October 8, with Reserve and University Officer Training Corps teams setting out and onwards across the Welsh Black Mountains.

While at the Patrol Base Mr Heappey spoke to soldiers running the event, as well as those preparing to begin the 40-mile tactical advance to battle, facing up to a number of scenarios which challenge all-round basic infanteering skills. 

Exercise Cambrian Patrol, run by 160th (Welsh) Brigade, is also a barometer on junior commanders’ leadership skills in the field, set against changing weather patterns and enemy attacks.

This year the event, which is marking 62 years since its inception in 1959, has been scaled down on account of the pandemic, but there are still nearly 100 patrols taking part, with nearly 20 patrols from international armies across the world.

A delegation from Welsh Government also visited Phase Four and Brigadier Carl Boswell, Commander 20th Armoured Infantry Brigade Combat Team, addressed troops completing Phase Two at a presentation ceremony at Sennybridge Main Camp.

Land Forces Command Kosovo, 3rd Division Signals Regiment, Gurkha Wing (Mandalay) Infantry Battle School, ARRC Support Battalion and the Swiss Special Forces Command all received silver medals.

15 Squadron RAF Regiment, 16 Signal Regiment Patrol One and 16 Signal Regiment Patrol Two all received Certificates of Merit.

Brigadier Boswell said: “It’s a massive privilege to be here today, awarding you your medals and certificates.

“Wow is the word I would use, getting here and completing Cambrian Patrol, whether you’re a British unit or an overseas team: it’s a huge achievement.

“It’s a massive tradition now and by taking part in this, you have become part of Cambrian history, an event that dates back to 1959.

“This is the premier patrols test in NATO and amongst our partner nations.

“The terrain here in Wales is unforgiving and some of you won’t be used to that. It’s a robust challenge of physical and mental resilience. So well done to you all and I have utter respect for what you’ve achieved.

Exercise Cambrian Patrol runs until Sunday, October 17.