Reservist Gunners Complete Exercise OMEGA in Cyprus
Seven was the number of Reservists who completed a gruelling two week exercise OMEGA this November, but luck certainly didn’t play any part in their success, that was purely down to the hard work and efforts of each individual.
The trainees travelled from all over Britain to take part in the Reservist Gunner qualification course that, for the first time, took place in the Western Sovereign Base Area of Cyprus. Occupying a small training camp on the hills just West of Episkopi Garrison, the course formed part of a larger combined exercise run by 2620 (County of Norfolk) Squadron and 603 (City of Edinburgh) Squadron.
With a full programme, the first week was spent on training at the Ranges, with the students completing a series of rifle shoots in order to develop the skills needed to meet the requirements of the Annual Combat Marksmanship Test. Then, alongside classroom based lessons the tempo was raised a notch as they prepared for the demands of the field exercise with training covering Patrolling skills, Close Quarter Battle and Section Battle Drills.
On embarking on the field phase, the first spots of rain heralded a change in the weather that would add to the hardships of the next few days. Patrolling close to their chosen Tactical Harbour Area, the Trainee Gunners erected their shelters in heavy showers and spent their first night under canvas in a violent thunderstorm. The following day the rain continued to fall steadily and the once hard baked and dusty terrain of the training area was transformed into a quagmire of mud making even the simplest tasks of preparing a meal and maintaining equipment a real challenge. But morale remained high and following a number of foot patrols, the troops experienced a ride in the Griffin Helicopters of 84 Squadron, who flew them to an overnight Observation Post and despite the worsening weather, which dumped half the month’s rainfall in one night, the students held firm in their over watch positions until the following morning. Exhausted and wet through, the final serials saw the troops complete further battle lessons, an ambush and, at the end of another long day, a final 5km patrol back to Camp marked the end of the exercise.
Each of the graduating students were presented with a set of RAF Regiment ‘mudguard’ shoulder badges by the Commander of British Forces Cyprus (the most senior serving officer in the RAF Regiment), Air Vice Marshal Graham Stacey, during a special parade to mark the occasion. 2620 Squadron’s own graduating reservist, LAC Ben Caller said after the parade ‘The last two weeks have not been easy, but we all pulled together in the field and it felt great to march back into camp knowing we’d passed the course’.
To find out how you could join 2620 (County of Norfolk) Squadron, call freephone 0800 783 1915 or search 2620 online now.