For the last three weeks 65 infantry officers have been on exercise in the Belize jungle.
 
Exercise Grim Warrior is the final part of their Platoon Commanders Battle Course. After a year of training, first at Sandhurst and then at Brecon, the end is in sight but they can't get complacent.
 
Everything they've done up until now hinges on them passing this final test and they're feeling the pressure. Maj Bev Allen OC of the Platoon Commanders' Division tells them:
"If you can soldier well in the jungle and you can operate well in the jungle, you can pretty much operate well anywhere in the world. Being in the jungle - just living and surviving, keeping your body together - has its challenges."
"Then, adding the complexity of command, control, navigation within these conditions just adds a whole new side to it." 
 
The exercise begins with some important survival lessons. Classrooms have been constructed by the support staff underneath the canopy and every officer is shown how to find water, build shelters and set traps.
 
A few hours later, they're drinking from coconuts and vines and learning how to set snares. It's hoped they'll never have to use these skills for real - but you never know.
 
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In another part of the jungle, a platoon are trying their best to creep through the trees. They're practicing their close target reconnaissance skills, trying to sneak up on the enemy.
 
It's a lot harder in Belize than back home - in the jungle, the rustle of leaves underfoot can easily give the game away. 2Lt Max Burns admits:
 
"It's surprisingly difficult. The guys playing enemy for us are [the] BDF, The Belize Defence Force, obviously they're local to the environment so they know this area like the back of their hand, so it's very difficult to creep up on them." Instructor CSgt Mark Fairbrother says: 
"The battle discipline, the levels need to be very, very high from start to finish... In the jungle everything is times 10, everything's harder. Even walking's harder."
During the exercise the platoon commanders have to take turns in leading each task. They start with platoon level objectives, and then move on to a company level attack.  
 
Their leadership is placed under the spotlight and the directing staff are watching their every move. Every officer needs to pass this exercise in order to join their chosen battalion - and training in the jungle is the ultimate test.
 
 

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