Words & pictures by WO2 (SMI) Peter Russell, County Media Officer
“Wouldn’t it be great,” cadets are often heard to say, with a wistful air of hope, “if we could have an exercise with more than two magazines of blank?” Or equally as expectantly, “What about a range day with more than a couple of magazines of live ammunition?”
Well, if you were lucky enough to be one of the 20 or so senior cadets from across the South West - both Army Cadets and Combined Cadet Force - who took part in Exercise Wyvern Warrior 22, run by Headquarters South West Cadet Training Team (HQSW CTT) at Longmoor Camp, all your dreams would have come true - in spades!
Because of the disastrous limits on training imposed by COVID-19, many older cadets suffered with a lack of serious training at a time towards the end of their cadet experience when they really needed to get those final ticks in boxes and wide-ranging experiences before moving out into the big wide world of work or further education.
It was to address these very problems that HQSW CTT organised Ex Wyvern Warrior - a week long, intensive programme of leadership, team building, fieldcraft, paintball, shooting and high intensity Training In Built-Up Areas (TIBUA) in the well equipped Urban Training Complex - that would leave cadets exhausted but with huge smiles on their faces and a massive feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction at a job well done.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that an average cadet might only get to fire a couple of hundred rounds of live 5.56mm Ball ammunition and perhaps a similar amount of blank ammunition in their entire cadet career. Contrast that with each cadet on Wyvern Warrior firing around 1000 rounds of Ball ammunition and somewhere around five times that amount of blank in the space of a week! By running such an intensive package, skills were honed and polished through repeated applications, by day and by night.
OC CTT, Maj Damion Deakin RIFLES and WO1 (RSM) Ian Ferris R IRISH, ably abetted by dedicated CTT staff, supported by ACF and CCF instructors, put together a training package to end all training packages that actually catered for a mere 20 cadets. Why weren’t there more cadets on the course? I don’t know the answer to that, but when the exercise appears on the calendar next year it, along with The Rifles Cup, Master Cadet and Champion Cadet, should be one of THE events that any cadet aspiring to a challenge would be unwise to miss.
Lots of cadets started the week lacking many of the skills that the limitations of training resulting from COVID had caused, not least with Skill At Arms. By the end of the week any one of the cadets would have been proficient enough to take to Afghanistan! It was a massive privilege to witness the transformation of enthusiastic but frankly lack lustre cadets on a Monday, to self-confident, fit, motivated and highly skilled ones a mere five days later!
Hopefully the pictures speak for themselves.
Don’t miss any opportunity in Army Cadets when it’s offered. Reach out and grab it with both hands and you won’t be disappointed.