www.morpethherald.co.uk Thursday, October 3, 2013
Soldiers pushed to the limit away from the day job Soldiers from across the county have been pushed to the limits in an intensive training exercise in Cyprus. Reporter Tegan Chapman joined the Fifth Battalion the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers on Exercise Lion Star to find out more. ACCOUNTANT John Marcon swapped figures and spreadsheets for the scorching temperatures of Cyprus, but this was no holiday. The 34-year-old from Pegswood, an Army Reserves captain with the Fifth Battalion
the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, who also holds down a job at Northumberland County Council, returned on Saturday from a two-week intensive training exercise on the Mediterranean island. Captain Marcon joined around 100 servicemen and women from the regiment at a training camp near the RAF Akrotiri base in southern Cyprus, where soldiers took part in a series of training exercises culminating in a large final attack. The skills learned during
Exercise Lion Star could potentially save their lives if they are deployed to any future conflicts. Imaginary scenarios usually based on real-life encounters, are played out by the soldiers to test them to their limits in unfamiliar terrain where temperatures have been close to 40C. But these are no ordinary soldiers. Each of them hold down day jobs as teachers, plumbers, lawyers and labourers, and make up the Army Reserve – where train-
different to what they are used to, especially the heat, which really pushes them.” The reservists are now paired with a regular unit, currently Edinburgh’s 3 Rifles, as Government plans for one army – regular and reserves – forge ahead. Future Reserves 2020 (FR2020) will see the number of reserve recruits rise to 30,000 by 2018, and will also see an increase in benefits for soldiers including improved kit, pension, healthcare and holiday entitlement.
“I think FR2020 is very good for the reservists and they will get a lot out of it,” he added. “A lot of guys want more chances to deploy and it also brings us in line with the regulars in terms of the latest kit and weapon systems. “There has probably never been a better time for people to join the reserves.” For more information about joining the reserves, visit http://www.army.mod. uk/ call 0845 600 8080 or visit an Army Reserve Centre.
‘There’s never been a better time to sign up’
Boosting morale Historically used to lead troops into battle, the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers’ army band has cemented its place in the future of the Army Reserve as a morale boosting unit. Members of the band joined the battalion in Cyprus for their annual training camp, where they performed a series of concerts throughout the region.The band’s director of music, Captain Kevin Crook, from Druridge Bay, said: “It’s all about keeping the morale up for the boys. Sometimes they are out in war zones and they have nothing, and I think the morale element is still very much there.” Alison Tebbutt, French horn player, 35, from Morpeth,
ing exercises like this are vital to bring the troops in line with their regular counterparts. “Training like this is invaluable,” said Capt Marcon. “The guys get a lot out of it, because it is two weeks consecutive training and they are all together. “It gives them the chance to bring together what they have been doing and it tests them over a longer period which is more challenging. “The environment is very
Soldiers from Fifth Battalion The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers on Exercise Lion Star in Cyprus.
Alison Tebbutt, from Morpeth, from The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers band at their annual camp in Cyprus. said: “This has been one of the best camps we have ever done. “We got to play in the amphitheatre to ex-pats and it was an incredible experience that we would never have in the civilian world.” The band can still be mobilised and given tasks such as
driving or decontamination, as they are all military trained. Captain Crook added: “The band is making music and they’re getting paid to do their hobby. We have members that have been doing this for 30 years, which shows how much they love it.”
AN army officer has said that changes to the way the Army Reserve operates mean there has never been a better time to sign up. The Government is heavily investing in the Army Reserve – previously known as the Territorial Army – to provide improved kit, better weapon systems and added benefits. Future Reserves 2020 (FR2020) will see the number of reserve recruits rise to 30,000 by 2018, and will also see an increase in benefits for soldiers including improved kit, pension, health care and holiday entitlement.
Plans will also see whole platoons mobilised, whereas previously individuals were sent to join regular units. Reserve units are now paired with a regular unit as Government plans for ‘One army – regular and reserve’ forge ahead. And the training exercise in Cyprus was the first time the one army ideal had been put to the test. Lieutenant Colonel Karl Mace, commanding officer of the Fifth Battalion The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, said: “Until now it has been a theory but now we have tried it and it has been successful, it shows we have at
the start of a journey that I am confident will deliver integrated operational capability. “In the field you could not identify who was regular and who was reserve, which proves for me that there is a chance of this initiative being successful and it will work. We are always recruiting and will welcome anyone who wants to find out more. “There really has never been a better time to join the Army Reserve.” For more information about joining the reserves, visit www.army.mod.uk call 0845 600 8080 or visit an Army Reserve Centre.