Soldiers from across the area have been learning to fight and survive in one of the world’s toughest environments – the jungle. In the third part of a series of special reports, defence correspondent SAM BANNISTER reports on the tactical elements of the troops’ training.
The dense foliage of the jungle provides some of the best cover for sneaking up on your enemy – but unfortunately this tactical advantage can easily be used against you too.
Around 120 troops of the 2nd Battalion Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment (2PWRR) are in Belize on a tough jungle training mission which is teaching them how to fight and survive in the hostile environment.
But as well as learning how to survive in the wilderness, hunt for food and find fresh water, the soldiers must also know how to gain an advantage over the enemy in an unfamiliar climate with hazards at every turn.
A Company, which includes soldiers from the Portsmouth area, are undergoing tactical training lessons aimed at giving them the upper hand over any foes.
They are covering everything from how to cross a river without being left exposed to an attack to how to sneak up on an enemy position and observe their movements from the cover of the foliage.
Because of the cover provided you can get a lot closer to an enemy position without giving yourself awayLance Corporal Dayne Roberts
For the infantrymen, the tactical studies are designed to ensure they are prepared for any scenario.
Lance Corporal Dayne Roberts, 23, from Cowplain, says: ‘It is challenging stuff but it is such a different environment to anything we have done before that there is a lot to be learned.
‘Because of the cover provided you can get a lot closer to an enemy position without giving yourself away.
‘It has been amazing going through it and learning tactics and survival skills.
‘For the last couple of days we have been sent out as a section on our own, with all our kit on, to make our way through the jungle. It is tough.’
And when you consider the weight of the kit the troops must carry across the often treacherous jungle and savannah-type terrain, it becomes clear L/Cpl Roberts is making no exaggeration.
Each soldier carries a pack weighing around 40kg and webbing – the system of belts and pouches which carries their ammunition and other small items of kit – which adds an extra 8kg.
Some will also carry a general purpose machine gun which weighs around 13kg.
‘It was challenging to start with,’ adds L/Cpl Roberts.
‘But if you can handle yourself here you can handle yourself anywhere.
‘Each soldier needs to be able to think for himself.
‘This is all part of why I joined the army at 16. I saw people my age not doing anything with their lives. This is probably one of the best experiences of my life.
‘Who can say they went to the jungle and learned the kinds of things we have?’