Exercise Ares Challenge had been two years in the making so when Humberside and South Yorkshire Army Cadet Force (HSY ACF) with a small party from Yorkshire North and West ACF headed off to Cyprus over the Easter holidays it was with an air of pure excitement and adventure.
The Exercise saw 36 cadets and 14 Cadet Force Adult Volunteers having an amazing time whilst gaining experiences that they would not normally have access to.
Once settled into their accommodation in Episkopi, cadets contemplated an exciting and action packed week ahead and to help everyone get to know each other cadets were split into two platoons allowing skills and experience to be shared and new friendships forged.
Here are some highlights from the Exercise and further on you can read personal experiences of the week from Cdt Sgt Bone, Staff Cadet Roper and Cadet Livingstone.
Visiting the Military Working Dog Troop, (1st Military Working Dog Regiment)
gave cadets the opportunity to witness military working dogs in action; in patrol, arms explosive search and vehicle search situations. Cadets learnt about everything from training and caring for the dogs, the relationship with their handlers as well as career pathways and opportunities in the Regiment. At the end of the demonstrations cadets and adults couldn’t wait to pet MWDs Ted (Black Labrador) Flash (Springer Spaniel) Tiny (Cocker Spaniel) and Duuk (Belgian Malinois).
At RAF Akritori cadets enjoyed some hands on practical demonstrations by the ammunition technicians of the Royal Logistic Corps Bomb Disposal Team. For cadets interested in STEM careers this was a highlight of their week. Taking flight in an RAF rescue helicopter was thrilling and a memory of a lifetime for many cadets. The visit to the United States Airforce and their U2 aircraft which flies in inner space with the task of monitoring trouble spots worldwide was awe-inspiring.
A day spent with 2 Yorks OPSWO Burma Coy allowed cadets to handle some of the latest weapon technology being trialled at the moment. Many cadets and adults were fascinated learning about the newest drone technologies.
A two-day tactical exercise gave cadets to put all their field training knowledge into practice was the culmination of the week’s exercise, testing cadets in fighting through enemy positions, even in hot conditions. The cadets managed to excel in suppression and win the day!
Along with visits from HSY ACF Honorary Col Simon Banks-Cooper and Chairman of the RFCA for Yorkshire & the Humber Lt Col David Rhodes the week was interspersed with cultural visits, clay pigeon shooting, cooling off by the pool and rest and relaxation on Tunnel Beach. As well as making the most of swimming in the Mediterranean Sea, cadets were instructed in paddle board skills, towed on inflatables in the bay and enjoyed a RIB out to sea soaking up the scenery and spotting turtles.
Over the course of the exercise cadets learnt and improved some important life skills like self-reliance, teamwork and confidence and it was rewarding to see cadets grasping the opportunity to develop their leadership skills within their platoons. All the cadets enjoyed themselves, made new friends and had lots of fun. The week provided fantastic memories for every cadet and adult and there is no doubt at all that HSY ACF gave their cadets an adventure of a lifetime.
Thank you to the Yorkshire Cadet Trust, RFCA and ACCT UK who helped to fund this event.