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Royal Anglian Regiment feels the heat during jungle training

Royal Anglians have patrolled deep into the jungles of Belize to test their ability to fight and stay alive in sweltering tropical heat.

The one-month exercise in the Central American jungle saw 150 soldiers from B (Suffolk) Company, 1st Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment exercising in oppressive and relentless humidity in temperatures from 28 to 40 Celsius and 80% humidity.

The exercise was designed to teach the troops to survive, move and fight in a jungle environment, operating from small four-man teams all the way  to a 100 person Company group.

Phase one saw the soldiers acclimatise to their surroundings whilst learning the basics: how to survive, navigate, and move in the jungle.

Having learned the basics, training progressed into the thickest parts of the jungle to build on their skills.

The jungle environment brings unique challenges. There can be few fighting environments that are more austere, challenging, and unforgiving that the jungle." Major Oliver Bullen,
Officer Commanding B Company,
1 R ANGLIAN

The region’s dense vegetation and hilly terrain meant movement was on foot. The undergrowth is too thick to use vehicles, instead the soldiers had to hack away with machetes to cut through the thick vegetation – taking hours to cover just a short distance.

Private Zac Broughton: “The most challenging part of the exercise was dealing with the combination of heat and terrain which took its toll, especially when trying to navigate towards the enemy.

“I also found it difficult conducting all my routine in the pitch black, the thick canopy stops any moonlight penetrating to the jungle floor. I have really appreciated the opportunity to train in such a demanding and amazing place. It was a once in a lifetime experience.”

The list of potential dangers was long and ranged from snakes and ticks to trees with sap that can cause blindness.

The soldiers carried out patrols to build up a picture of the area and identify enemy locations whilst simultaneously making it as difficult as possible to be tracked and attacked themselves.

The Company practised river crossing drills in the Macal river near Guacamallo bridge. Whilst it looked idyllic, basking in sunshine, and surrounded by rich green foliage, there were dangers from microscopic parasites and bigger predators like the Belize crocodile. 

The strongest swimmers went in first, to secure the far bank and ensure the safety line was attached to get the whole company over safely. At the same time eagle-eyed soldiers kept watch for crocodiles, ready to use live ammunition on any reptiles that dare to approach.

Sergeant Ryan McAleese said: "One of the hardest bits of doing a river crossing is actually personal administration".

“Once the company has made it safely to the other side, all the weapons systems and kit have to be cleaned, dried, oiled and returned to their optimal condition, ready to be used again.”

The exercise concluded with a co-ordinated assault onto an enemy camp, which tested not only individual and team skills, but also wider command and control over longer distances.

Major Oliver Bullen, Officer Commanding B Company, said: “The jungle environment brings unique challenges. There can be few fighting environments that are more austere, challenging, and unforgiving that the jungle.

“A typical ‘section attack’ can see a soldier crawl through the jungle for an hour and a half whilst carrying 40lbs (18kg) of equipment. The combination of extreme physical activity and the extreme heat mixed with the humidity takes its toll.”

The 1st Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment are affectionately known as The Vikings and recruit from across East Anglia.

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