Ex DRAGONS STRIKE
The 1st Battalion conducted their Battle Craft Syllabus (BCS) exercise in November 2019. Alpha Company had already been on SPTA for 5 weeks before the start of BCS, achieving a great deal of success on the Army Combat Power Demonstration. The exercise was seen by all as the last hurdle of what was a challenging 6-week period on Salisbury Plain.
Initially, we were given several days to rehearse and practice low-level skills and drills. After several long days and nights of rehearsing, both Maj Rabbitt and WO2 Burford were pleased with the preparation and that Alpha Company had reached such a high standard. Following this preparation phase, the test phase began with B (Rorke’s Drift) Company playing the role of the enemy. In pretty miserable conditions, Alpha Company successfully completed a series of deliberate attacks, an obstacle crossing, a relief in place and finally the dreaded defensive phase. Each phase of exercise was complex and testing, but it became extremely challenging when they were combined. The defensive phase alone was really testing as it involved digging in a company defensive position in respirators in sub-zero temperatures, which is something I will never forget! Once this phase finished, we swiftly moved to conduct a further series of hasty attacks. Throughout, B (Rorke’s Drift) Company proved to be a tenacious and effective enemy who tested and really pushed our capabilities to their limits.
Once our test phase was complete, the companies then switched roles. However, we soon learned that one of our platoons would be required to backfill B (Rorke’s Drift) Company. Sadly, thanks to a lack of skill from both Lt Jones and Sgt Smith in a high-stakes game of rock/paper/scissors, 1 Platoon was selected for this task. Not gracious in victory, 2 Platoon cheered at the news whilst they watched us mount our Warriors to leave with B (Rorke’s Drift) Company to reoccupy their defensive positions.
After another hard-fought defensive period lasting for 24 hours, we conducted a Remembrance Day service which gave us time to reflect on our forebears and give thanks for their sacrifice. After the service, we began the offensive phase and a series of attacks which culminated with an urban assault onto Copehill Down village. This ended Ex DRAGON’S STRIKE and a great deal of relief was felt by all. This was one of the most challenging exercises and exhausting training packages we had conducted during what was a busy year. It will also undoubtedly provide those who experienced it with lasting memories.