After a two year absence, the New Zealand Army is set to compete in a British Army exercise dubbed ‘the world’s toughest patrolling test’.
Eight soldiers from 2nd/1st Battalion, Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment (RNZIR), based in Burnham, will represent 1st New Zealand Brigade in Exercise Cambrian Patrol, competing against 97 other teams from around the world in the mountainous Brecon Beacons area in Wales.
Cambrian Patrol is the premier patrolling event of the British Army and hosted by Headquarters 160th (Welsh) Brigade. The aim of the exercise is to enhance operational capability within units.
Patrol Commander, Lieutenant Tony Calder-Steele, said the team, which leaves at the end of the week, would have its military skills tested over an intense 48-hour period as they covered about 60km on foot.
The tasks will vary from working in a chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear environment, dealing with explosive ordnance threats and battlefield casualty drills, through to reconnaissance tasks and even dealing with media.
The team has been preparing for the exercise for six weeks, focusing on pack fitness skills and any other skills that may be tested along the way.
Scottish-born Private Steven Higson will be part of the patrol’s scout pair and said he was looking forward to the challenge.
“I am most looking forward to competing against other nations. Our training has been well structured, having our Physical Instructors put us through personalised programmes, as well as others teaching and training us on specific topics in preparation for what we might encounter,” he said.
2/1 RNZIR competed in Exercise Cambrian Patrols in 2018 and 2019 but, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the unit was unable to compete in 2020 and 2021.
Lieutenant Calder-Steele said it was an exciting prospect to be able to have soldiers compete internationally again after spending so long on Operation Protect.
“The team is looking forward to the challenge and is seeking to achieve the best possible result,” he said.
The team of 10 includes eight soldiers, one Army Reserve Force soldier and a team manager.
NZ Army teams have won gold medals in the Cambrian Patrol in 2011 and 2015.