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My Experience of Exercise ASKARI THUNDER by Lance Corporal A S Parker, The Blues and Royals


s soon as 2016 kicked off, the Squadron was straight back into the routine training we conduct annually, beginning with CATT/CAST. A number of us were, however, lucky enough to be picked to deploy to Kenya on Exercise ASKARI THUNDER as enemy forces against the 1st Grenadier Guards Battle Group. Those chosen were primarily from the Regiment’s Support Troops and Guided Weapons Troops as they would benefit most from the dismounted focus of the pre-deployment training and exercise thereafter. We began our training straight after Easter leave with various range packages and fitness build up training, culminating in a full LFTT package in Warcop with a slick live-fire company attack across the area to give us that warm fuzzy feeling that we were ready to dismount our wagons and take on the Foot Guards at what they do best and in a testing environment too. Eventually, it came time to pack our bergans and get on the plane and for many there was a great deal of excitement mixed with anticipation as, since operational deployments around the world have dried up, this would be the first time deploying to a hot and somewhat hostile (if only from the thorny bushes and camel spiders in the areas we’d be training in) part of the world. I myself am South African born and bred, however, I have not been back in 12 years so for me it was the perfect opportunity to get back to Mother Africa and embrace all that I’ve been missing since moving to the UK - mostly the sun, which as soon as we stepped off the plane hit us like a freight train and we knew then even before starting the exercise that it would be as much of a test for us as it would for the Grens. The initial period in the days upon arrival were spent acclimatising and taking over vehicles, which thankfully were only TCVs and land rovers and nothing with a track on it. We were staying in Laikipia Air Base East, a Kenyan Air Force base. We got a chance to head down to the lo-

cal curio shops and, strangely enough, they had already produced wood carvings of our respective cap badges before we even got there. After about a week we were ready to deploy onto the area. We headed out on what was a very long and hot drive with the lads in the back of the TCVs. We got to our first of three training areas, called Tangamaus - a large area of land owned by a War Correspondent who was more than happy for us to use it to conduct some in-house training before meeting up with the Grenadier Guards. We pitted the three Platoons against one another across about four days, slowly ramping up the intensity in section attack and defence. The heat was a consideration across the training package and down time was granted accordingly. However, for the most part the boys were put to the test both mentally and physically. We ended the first week on a high with the local Askaris coming by to show us the traditional way of slaughtering a goat before letting us have a go with a further four. It was an eye opener to say the least, but everyone jumped in and quite literally too, as one of the traditions is to drink the blood of the goat as it rather quickly bleeds to death from a slit made in the arteries in its neck. For the record, it tastes like a blood milkshake - I went back a second and third time, though I’m not sure I’ll be a danger to any farmers livestock back in Blighty. We butchered them and got them on a big fire pit. The name for chunks of meat cooked this way is Nyama Choma. With a couple of local Tusker lagers, that was the first week done and dusted. The second week we were up against the infanteers with various serials along the lines of defile crossings, company defence and company attack. We put up a tough fight, better than any of us thought we would do in all honesty as this was their bread and butter, and ended up testing them at every turn. We got some excellent feedback from the BATUK DS and some from

the Grens, with perhaps some advice to tone it down a touch. (We took this as advice and dutifully ignored it) The final week ramped things up again: the serials were largely the same, however, on a much grander scale both in terms of our defence and their attack. The area was just as hostile with a full compliment of camel spiders, snakes, wolf spiders, lions, elephants, giraffes ... the list goes on. The exercise culminated with a full scale Battle Group attack on our fortified defensive position. We didn’t hold back until the bitter end, when their numbers, albeit rapidly dwindling as a result of our efforts, overpowered us and they took the position with what seemed to be only a platoon at best still alive. Endex. The exercise was serious fun but more to the point offered great training value for all involved and each and every one of us returned to the UK with a greater appreciation of operating in a different environment; seeing the other side of our tactics, an incredible and vibrant culture, and how to go on a shovel recce knowing there are things at your feet and around you that will give you a run for your money if you don’t do your (very necessary) 5’s and 20’s. For myself, it was excellent being back in Africa. Although far from Cape Town, where I grew up, many of the sights, smells and sounds were largely the same and I thoroughly enjoyed experiencing the African culture once again. We got back on the plane all with a pretty god-like tan and prepared to resume regimental training on the plain, Salisbury Plain, oh joy of joys. I think it’s safe to say we all came away from the exercise and overall experience with a greater appreciation of our job and for many a renewed enthusiasm to see more and do more whilst flying the flag of the Household Cavalry wherever until the world we may find ourselves.

C Squadron


Squadron returned from BATUS in November 2016 to dive straight into training for a six month Op TEMPERER commitment, where it worked to 1 Mercian followed by a switch to 4 Rifles. The requirement saw all individuals trained via All Ranks Briefs to the SQMC department constantly either in the middle of taking over or handing over the equipment to the various sub units coming on and off 12hrs’ NTM. Each change of readiness state was faultless and thanks are to be given to all ranks for

making the change so swiftly after what had been a demanding year. The Squadron disappeared before we knew what had hit us on Christmas leave, which also marked the departure of Colonel Denis and the arrival of Colonel Ed back into the Regimental fold after quite some time away. The Regiment formed up in the New Year to be greeted by

Advancing on radio silence on Collective Training

Household Cavalry Regiment ■ 11

Household Cavalry Journal 2016  
Household Cavalry Journal 2016