Reserves

Exercise Lions Claw: Reservists Compete For Promotion

Kingsmen from various units across the north took part in the training in order to be promoted to Lance Corporal.

Infantry reserves have been put through their paces to earn a promotion during the final part of Exercise Lions Claw at Nesscliffe Training Camp, Shropshire.

Over 10 days, Kingsmen from 4th Battalion the Duke of Lancaster's Regiment, as well as other units across the north, had to react to a range of scenarios, from battle prep to leadership and survival skills which led up to a full-blown platoon attack.

The reservists are working towards being promoted to Lance Corporal. 

It comes as the Duke of Lancaster's Regiment found it had a backlog of reserves who hadn't been promoted.

A rise up the ranks means more responsibility and more opportunities in the British Army Reserve.

Lieutenant Colonel Nick Kennon, Commanding Officer of 4 Lancs, told Forces News: "It's a big step up in responsibility because not only are they working to that corporal, this course will train them to take over from that corporal if he is incapacitated or unavailable.

"They're learning on this course what the Section Commander – the full corporal – does as well."

During Exercise Lions Claw, the reservists had to make camp while the 'enemy' was close.

Second Lieutenant Charlie Bradbury Platoon Commander, B Company, 4 Lancs, explained what the key elements are when setting up camp.

The exercise was held over 10 days at Nesscliffe Training Camp.

"The first thing is if it's mission-relevant, so if it's an amazing location but 15km away, it isn't relevant," he said.

"It needs to be located away from tracks and roads used by the enemy, away from likely enemy positions, generally avoid wet, marshy ground, [and it's] got to be near a water source.

"[And] crucially, good communications, so as soon as I came in, I did a radio check with my Company Command to make sure he could hear where we were."

Once checks had been made and reconnaissance teams inspected the area, the troops made camp and stayed within a woodblock for 72 hours.

Outside the woodblock, enemy forces were hidden waiting for them to patrol, waiting to initiate the first of many simulated attacks.

The objective was to take down the enemy while remaining out of the line of fire with no cover in an open area.

The reservists also had to demonstrate they could successfully command their sections. 

The kingsmen had to react to a range of scenarios.

Colour Sergeant Lewis Royle, permanent Staff Instructor, 4 Lancs, said: "We always try and surprise the troops, the reservists are usually used to having enemy in lines so we put them off to flanks to throw them off, but the lads have responded well.

"Some of the sections have rolled thempositions under their own steam, as the enemy was that close.

"The Commander has made that decision to say 'right, we're going to roll it' – that's what we're trying to do on thecadre, trying to get the kingsmen thinking as commanders, and making their own decisions."

Following the exercise, Kingsman Jonathan Stremmelaar, 4 Lancs, said it was "good fun".

"We were constantly getting updates even when we couldn't see their position... communication was good," he said.

Warrant Officer Class 1 (RSM) Dale Winward, 4 Lancs, told Forces News: "I'm impressed by the level of the skillset on show for where they're at – bear in mind these soldiers don't do this full-time.

"What I've been hugely impressed with is the amount of information retention on show from the students. This isn't their day job, they do this on a part-time basis."