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This is not R’n’R

Soldiers push the limits in the Rockies

Every year, some 1,750 troops escape the demanding exercise schedule at British Army Training Unit Suffield (Batus) for adventurous activity packages at Trail’s End Camp (TEC).

Those lucky enough to get a slot can find themselves doing mountain biking, kayaking, climbing or horse riding, all set against the dramatic backdrop of the Canadian Rockies.

But far from being a chance to put their feet up, the centre promotes the mantra “training to the threshold of failure”.

Chief instructor WO1 Si Naylor (RAPTC) explained how the philosophy is about pushing personnel out of their comfort zone to prepare them for the wider rigours of military service.

“It’s as far away from R ‘n’ R as is conceptually possible,” the senior NCO told Soldier.

“All troops who come here for AT are encouraged to develop aspects of the leadership code whilst exposed to a degree of hardship and carefully-enabled physical and mental risks.

“We have the unique advantage of utilising the Rocky Mountain range environment.

“The terrain is remote and wild, and the dangers from the activities themselves, and even animals, are significant, so strategies to minimise those hazards are constantly coached.

“We’ve adapted the concept from Army HQ of ‘training to the threshold of failure’ to ensure our courses deliver maximum value.”

Seventeen members of staff are based at TEC during peak season.

Among them is SSgt Luke Spires (RAPTC), who as the battlegroup physical training instructor is the liaison between the centre and the exercising formations on the prairie.

Having previously undergone training at Batus himself, he said it was vital for the troops to have time to decompress, even if the experience isn’t exactly a relaxing one.

“It’s a good place for the guys to get away from everyday life in green kit,” he commented.

“But it’s very physically demanding. You see them deteriorate throughout the  course of the week.

“They start off all fresh-faced and on the first evening they’re up and about until 2300, then it’s 2200, then 2000; it gets earlier every day.

“They’re all completely drained of energy. But you see their skills come on in leaps and bounds and that’s great.”


Read the full story in the September issue…

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