Wales University Officers’ Training Corps: Ex LION STAR

Back in April 2016, Wales University Officer Training Corp (WUOTC) deployed to RAF Akrotiri to run the consolidated MOD Bravo package on behalf of Sandhurst Group and the Reserve Commissioning Course; EX LION STAR 1/16. I participated in this Exercise as an Officer Cadet and it was my penultimate action with WUOTC, Cardiff Detachment, before moving on to attend the Regular Commissioning Course 171 at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst.

I remember it fondly. It was challenging and exciting, in terms of the content of the course as well as the overseas training environment of Bloodhound Camp and RAF Akrotiri Training Area. This was an opportunity that not many Officer Cadets were afforded. Three years on, now serving as 5 Platoon Commander, B (Rorke’s Drift) Company, 1st Battalion The Royal Welsh, I was asked if I could return to WUOTC in order to support their upcoming EX LION STAR 1/19. I jumped at the chance.

Returning through the familiar gates of Maindy Barracks, Cardiff, I arrived at the very same WUOTC Building which had changed very little - inlcuding a few of the same key personalities! I was presented with 2 Platoon, my new platoon for the coming two weeks. 24 Officer Cadets, from various Universities across the country, most of which were sacrificing their Easter Holidays (or valuable dissertation and revision time!) – to attend the course.

Fast-forwarding through the pre-exercise administration, move to RAF Brize Norton, flight to RAF Akrotiri and further road move to Sovereign Base Area, Dhekelia, Ex LION STAR had finally arrived at its destination and we were ready to commence a series of training packages. With early starts and late finishes, the exercise intended to maximise training throughout the day, whilst also giving Officer Cadets ample time to catch up with their studies.

The first training package involved Ranges and CIS familiarisation. This offered Exercising Troops the opportunity to progress through Live Fire 1 to 4, whilst improving their competency operating the 354 Bowman Radio.

Officer Cadets were coached throughout to vastly improve their skills.

The daily commute involved an early morning 3-mile TAB to the range complex, improving the Officer Cadet’s resilience to coping with weight, without the Cyprus Sun limiting the activity undertaken. This was also the first time many of the Officer Cadets had fired live ammunition yet the progression shown over the 3-day package was impressive – the most improved reducing her grouping from 110mm to 18mm, whilst the smallest group achieved in 2 Platoon was 10mm. This was testament to the coaching delivered by the Range Staff, headed up by a variety of UOTC Permanent Staff Instructors.

Concurrently, I used the time with the waiting details to introduce them to the AATAM, basic section attack theory and rehearsals in preparation for the Orders and Estimate phase and the Tactics phase respectively. Overall, a valuable package which set the Officer Cadets up for success moving forward to MOD C.