The Bermuda Regiment’s public order specialists yesterday [May 1] “took a town back from rioters,” as part of the training nearly 180 Bermuda Regiment soldiers are doing in North Carolina.
Members of A Company had access to the state-of-the-art urban warfare training area at the US Marines’ Camp Lejeune.
And veteran Marine Colonel Brad Vickers – an infantry Marine with 30 years on the front line and Camp Lejuene facilities officer – said he was impressed by the commitment of the Bermuda contingent.
Col Vickers, who met Bermuda’s Commanding Officer Lt Col Brian Gonsalves during a visit to the Military Operations Urban Terrain [MOUT] site, said: “The soldiers are great.
“It’s very obvious they are very engaged with good communications and mastering the basics, which is very important. The thing most obvious to me is that they are maximising the training opportunity.”
The A Company troops spent the day at the MOUT site, a realistic town, complete with sound effects designed to disorientate, as well as explosions and smoke bombs and a range of pop-up targets, which included a mix of hostile forces and unarmed civilians.
Pte Julian Akole, one of the soldiers who spent the day on house-to-house clearing operations, said: “I’ve learned basic cover skills, how to stay safe in the line of fire and that you have to give clear directions.
Pte Akole, 21, from Warwick and a cook at a Hamilton restaurant, added: “It’s also helped with me with life skills – I’ve learned to be more alert and not let things distract my focus.
“It made me feel more responsible. Something like this makes you take hold of your responsibility and be organised when doing that. I’ve also learned not to be selfish. You have to look out for your fellow man – team work makes dream work.”
Meanwhile, troops from Guns and Assault Pioneers, the Regiment’s in-house engineers, took advantage of battle-hardened instructors in the safe use of explosives at another part of the sprawling camp.
Their training will include using explosives to blow doors and windows, as well as the preparation and handling of engineering explosives.
US Marine Lieutenant Patrick Mayne said it was the first time he had been involved in training Regiment soldiers, although he was aware of the long-standing good relations between the two organisations.
Lt Mayne, of the Marines 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion, said: “The Bermuda Regiment soldiers will be working very hard. It’s a great opportunity for them because they get to see what we do and different aspects of our work – and we’re pretty damn good at what we do.
“Some of our guys have had more than six combat deployments and the Bermuda soldiers will get a wealth of knowledge in every aspect of it.”
At the same time, Regiment medics took advantage of hi-tech facilities at the US Navy’s hi-tech training school to hone their life-saving skills.
Lieutenant Commander Erik Hardy said: “They have responded very well – they’re hungry for education and we try to give them as much as we possibly can while we have them on deck.”
Instructor Petty Officer Jeremiah Geddis added:”They all come with a basic understanding of medicine which helps us a lot. They are at about the same level as the students we teach already.”
Regiment Training Warrant Officer, WO2 Oldenburg, the senior Regiment infantry instructor who has overseen the soldiers’ training from their first day of Recruit Camp, said: “I’m pleased to see the soldiers developing, militarily and socially.”
But he warned that any soldier who failed to make the military grade or fail firearms safety tests would not be allowed to take part in the live firing exercises.