The British Army’s world-class event attracts troops from around the world and is renowned as the toughest patrolling test soldiers can face.
But this year a research team from Defence Science and Technology (Dstl) used the exercise to measure how the 60km grind through harsh terrain could provide human performance data analytics.
The project, commissioned by Dstl and the Human Social Science Research Capability, was led by the University of Chichester and Cervus Defence and Security Ltd.
"This work is the first step towards achieving Dstl’s vision for human performance data analytics, which could enable commanders the ability to optimise the performance of their soldiers." Major James Gill, Dstl
Major James Gill, of Dstl, said: “The study explored how well a range of physical, cognitive and psychophysiological measures (collected using wearable devices and other measurement tools) can be used to predict performance across a range of tasks completed as part of Exercise Cambrian Patrol 2021.
"The research team equipped five volunteer patrols with wearable devices and took measurements before, during and after the event."
Major Gill said: "This work is the first step towards achieving Dstl’s vision for human performance data analytics, which could enable commanders the ability to optimise the performance of their soldiers."
Major James Lewis of 160th (Welsh) Brigade is the Officer in Charge of Exercise Cambrian Patrol and said the event is consistently developed to be operationally relevant.
"The course this year, based on the feedback we have had, was the initial part was one of the most challenging we’ve done,” said Major Lewis.
“Had we had the grim weather normally seen then it would have added to the complexity and scale of the challenge for those participating.
"The robustness shown by every single member of a completing patrol is proof that our young soldiers are professionals and very good at their job." Major James Lewis, Officer in Charge Exercise Cambrian Patrol
“The weather was definitely kinder to troops this year and less miserable than you would expect to find during autumn across the Welsh Black Mountains and the Brecon Beacons.
"Having double figures on the temperature gauge and being sunny and warm is certainly an unexpected change to horizontal rain and the cold weather soldiers can usually face when we put this event on.
"But that is not to take away from the achievements of everyone who started this event.”
Major Lewis said the exercise remained a huge draw for countries across the globe for its realism and professional set up.
He said: "Having watched from the back of the presentation ceremony and those international troops celebrating completing Cambrian, it again bears testament to just how much this exercise means to our foreign allies and how much they value it as a respected, world-class event.
"What we set out to achieve is a measure of our soldiers’ core basic military skills and none of the challenges or stands put on are beyond the realms of their abilities.
"The tasks are developed from the Soldier First syllabus, which is a requirement for every soldier to do.
Yes, patrolling with that weight, over that distance isn’t something everyone is expected to do but that’s why anyone who takes part needs to put in some training before arriving in Mid Wales.
"Even once they’ve trained and put those miles in the legs with that weight on their backs there is an element of self-determination and leadership that is needed.
"The robustness shown by every single member of a completing patrol is proof that our young soldiers are professionals and very good at their job."