“With the speed that we are moving through there, good communication and navigation is key.” CORPORAL NOBLE, 4TH BATTALION THE MERCIAN REGIMENT (4 MERCIAN)
Operating in the darkness of the Corsham Mines Training Area (CMTA) in Wiltshire, a combined Company of Reservists from The Mercian Regiment, The Rifles, and the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers practiced an attack on a prepared ‘enemy’ force.
Night vision devices and rifle-mounted Laser Light Modules (LLM01s) were essential as around 100 part-time troops made their way through the sprawling subterranean complex towards the light at the end of the tunnel.
Corporal Noble, a Section Commander in the 4th Battalion, The Mercian Regiment (4 MERCIAN), said: “The dark is a challenge, some of it is lit up but most of it isn’t so we need to practice with the equipment that helps us get around. With the speed that we are moving through there, good communication and navigation is key.”
Subterranean warfare has been brought into stark focus recently, given its prominence during the illegal Russian invasion of Ukraine, and Army personnel are well aware of the dangers posed.
“Every person gets issued an oxygen pod; if the air quality reduces by a certain level or dust emerges, then everybody has the ability to breathe better air.” CORPORAL NOBLE, 4TH BATTALION THE MERCIAN REGIMENT (4 MERCIAN)
Corporal Noble said: “Every person gets issued an oxygen pod; if the air quality reduces by a certain level or dust emerges, then everybody has the ability to breathe better air before being rescued in an emergency.”
While the underground attack was the culmination of the two-week exercise, activities in the days before took place very much on the surface, with 10 Challenger 2 main battle tanks on hand to support the infantry Reservists with extra firepower.
But the work in the CMTA, which is maintained by the Defence Infrastructure Organisation, was the icing on the cake for the soldiers, many of whom will now go back to their day jobs or studies.
Despite a long drive back home for the likes of the Newcastle-based 5th Battalion, the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers (5 RRF), the skills and personal bonds developed during the exercise will stand these Reservists in good stead for future operations.