Jamaican soldier’s teams up with Welsh Guards in arduous jungle training exercise
Durrant Pate/ Contributor
After a 15-year hiatus, the United Kingdom (UK) and Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) have resurrected their “Exercise RED STRIPE” military training exercise.
The exercise is set to further invigorate UK/Jamaican Defence cooperation with 106 soldiers of No. 2 Company of the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards arriving in Kingston recently to take part in Exercise RED STRIPE, which is surely a demanding test for any infantry soldier in the forest lands of Jamaica.
Given that Exercise RED STRIPE is a reciprocal one 70 soldiers from the JDF will travel to the UK later in the year and once again, team up with the Welsh Guards. However, this time the Jamaican soldiers will experience life in the British Army and continue the training programme, albeit in a very different setting.
Exercise RED STRIPE is one of several specialist overseas training exercises testing British soldiers that goes a long way to answer that requirement; to take the fight to the enemy – wherever they maybe.
Jungle training exercise
Commenting on the exercise Major Gambarini of the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards remarked: “I am incredibly privileged to be able to come out here and conduct a jungle training exercise here in Jamaica They don’t come around very often, so for No.2 Company, it is an incredible highlight for us. Training alongside the Jamaican Defence Force, we have been able to learn from each other and foster a great relationship.”
Exercise RED STRIPE chimes with the Future Soldier programme evidenced in the words of the Commander Field Army, Lieutenant General Ralph Wooddisse CBE MC when he said, “Future Soldier is fundamentally about ensuring the British Army is a competitive and resilient organization able to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow, wherever they may be.”
The Welsh Guards were based at the JDF’s Titchfield Camp in Port Antonio in the north-east of the Caribbean Island. From their Port Antonio base, the Welsh Guards pushed up into the close country tropical environment that are the jungles in the foothills of Jamaica’s Blue Mountains.
Three main objectives
The Officer Commanding No.2 Company, Major Gambarini set in train three main objectives to be achieved through Exercise RED STRIPE. The first to complete an arduous jungle training exercise, second to increase interoperability and defence relations between Jamaican and UK forces and third to provide a career highlight for the young Guardsmen by giving them a wholly different training experience as well as a cultural eye opener to an unfamiliar location.
Speaking of the exercise Major Gambarini said, “I am incredibly privileged to be able to come out here and conduct a jungle training exercise here in Jamaica. They don’t come around very often, so for No.2 Company it is an incredible highlight for us. Training alongside the Jamaican Defence Force, we have been able to learn from each other and foster a great relationship. This is a particularly young infantry company with many new arrivals, so Red Stripe has presented a gilt-edged opportunity for them to bond and nurture the ethos that underpins all we seek to achieve.”
The introduction to the jungle proved testing for the troops. Jungle Warfare Instructors (JWIs), some from the Welsh Guards, who qualified having completed the Jungle Warfare Instructor’s Cadre held in Brunei, explained survival techniques such as the construction and setting of traps for food, then how to prepare and cook the resulting prey.
The importance of the need to source potable water, whether that be from making rain collecting devices from banana leaves, adapting polythene bags to harness condensation from the humid air, or simply by knowing which vines bear water suitable to drink. The troops spent 17 days in the jungle where they completed several packages that included live firing tactical training, close target reconnaissance with platoon level camp attacks all leading up to an overnight long-term ambush against a defended enemy position.
With all the hard training behind them No.2 Company enjoyed a couple of thoroughly deserved days of rest and recuperation (R&R) Jamaican style and that can really mean only one thing – a beach.
The Welsh Guards’ enjoyed an R & R package that included the opportunities to indulge in water sports, snorkeling, fishing and for many simply a chance to allow the warm waters of the Caribbean to wash away the grime and sooth aching feet from their days spent in the close country tropical environment.