Ex Blue Bull Combined Maintenance Unit
Ex Blue Bull, started very early outside 4 Hangar on a mild September morning.
A brief was given by each leader to their respective modules outlining the proceedings for the day. With all 140 personnel and equipment loaded on the coaches they were on their way for the 2 day exercise to STANTA training area, a 30,000 acre site used to train military personnel prior to deployment.
The exercise was co-ordinated to give the airmen of CMU the chance to take the lead in pre-planned scenarios that had been established in the days leading up to the event by the organisers; Sgt’s Cooper, Burgess, Windle and Grimmer.
On arrival everyone assembled into their modules ready to start the first of six tasks for the day. Each module was given points on a map so that map reading/navigational skills could be put to the test. One of the modules was last seen heading over the horizon in the totally wrong direction.
Scenario 1, Casualty Evacuation
Was tackled first by Module 1 with SAC Dave Butler ably leading, tentatively meandering through the woods calling out, expecting to hear faint yelps for help whilst avoiding the Mine field, only to be confronted by a packed 12 man tent, the casualty! With time to complete the task fading the casualty was recovered at lightning pace through the shrubbery and undergrowth
Involved the recovery of an aircraft black box ‘bucket’, from a contaminated crater utilising various ropes, a hook and several broom handles. SAC Adam Tingey organised the successful recovery, whilst dealing with an unexpected trespasser in the form of Sgt Ken Dorward who tried to sabotage the recovery operation. SAC Tingey dealt with this nuisance swiftly organising a three man team to contain him.
Scenario 3, Human Solitaire
This involved correctly identifying the contents of a bottle, amongst more unpalatable substances, helped by clues provided from the game of human solitaire, a triangular arrangement of rubber pads placed on the ground. Each player was only to move if instructed to by the leader SAC James Stewart. For every player removed from the game, a clue was given as to the substances in each bottle. Flt Sgt Weston was so keen on the objective he joined in the fun, leap frogging several subordinates and gaining the all important cryptic clues to aid in the successful solution of the final puzzle.
Scenario 4, Satellite Communications
The mission was to build two satellite dishes using a large Meccano set and send a radio transmission. The team leaders built on what they had learnt from previous tasks and set off to work in two separate locations. Soon it was realised that some of the parts were missing, so a negotiation was required with a Sergeant in the role of an angry store man, but eventually most teams were successful and managed a sturdy erection, utilising a bin and the local flora.
Scenario 5, Ration Recovery
A simple case of recovering ration boxes from inside a booby trapped building. The leaders were taken away to be briefed and on return were not allowed to talk to or touch the other team members, as an added complication the team had been blindfolded! After the initial shock and good improvisation, SAC Ghattaoraya implemented ‘a plan’ ensuring the task was completed in time with an all round outstanding team effort.
Scenario 6, Semaphore
After an initial confidence, the teams soon found this to be the most difficult task. Firstly instructions were sent across the ravine from one team to the other by semaphore, enabling the second team to assemble a set of gears on a board. Once correctly assembled this mechanism could be used to calculate a three-digit code. This code would then be communicated from the group with the mechanism to the other side of the ravine and used to break a lock in their possession. Unfortunately common sense soon evaded most and before long flags of surrender were being waved.
Once the scenarios had been completed the teams made their way to their accommodation. With camp beds prepped for the night thoughts then turned to food. Chef’s Cpl Blows and LAC Rudd prepared a fantastic BBQ which was greatly appreciated by all.
EX BLUE BULL was a great success, removing team members from their comfort zone and stretching their problem solving, managerial and leadership skills throughout the day. The 6 scenarios gave potential future Non Commissioned Officer’s insight into leadership, whilst gaining them valuable experience.