Coldstream Guards In Belize
Around 400 soldiers from 1st Battalion the Coldstream Guards (1CG) have swapped their ceremonial duties to test their jungle warfare skills in Belize.
 
1CG have been working and training together on Exercise Mayan Warrior, named after the ancient Mayan people and culture that previously inhabited the region.
 
 
The Guards have been deployed deep in the heart of Belize’s rainforest, learning how to fight in the jungle, and perhaps more importantly, how to navigate and survive amidst the dangers that lay beneath the canopies.
 
 
They're also learning how to make booby traps, attack or ambush enemy camps and conduct river crossings and operations - with the final phase of training involving live firing.
 
Simple but lethal booby traps, including the 'Punji Pit' (bottom)
 
The booby traps the soldiers learn to make, and avoid, are the same types that faced the British in the Malayan Conflict & Brunei Revolt and the Americans during the Vietnam War.
 
Knowing how to spot and avoid them is a life saving skill in this harsh terrain, and an important part of jungle warfare.
 
Meanwhile, the difficulties of simply looking after yourself - what the military call taking care of ‘your personal admin’ - are also an immense struggle, with Belize known as a ‘dirty jungle’. 
 
Soldiers there must do without the pleasures of soap or general toiletries; they are expected to not only visually blend in with the jungle with camouflage, but also with its smells as any ‘clean’ odour can carry for thousands of metres, giving your position away.
 
Shaving is out of the question, as any cut or graze runs the risk of becoming infected.
 
 
The soldiers have to become at one with their environment - and all this whilst contending with the insects and creepy crawlies of the jungle - mosquito’s, spiders (including tarantulas), scorpions and snakes. Lance Corporal Kris Boyer said: 
 
“It’s tough, everything wants a bit of you – even the grass.”
 
Navigating through the jungle is slow, exhausting and riddled with difficulties. The dense canopy makes the use of sat-nav systems impossible and can also interfere with radio transmission.
 
In amongst the thick undergrowth everything around you looks the same; there are no topographical features to use for reference.
 
 
The ground underfoot is steep, muddy and at times uneven causing many to stumble and fall. Guardsman Richard Lawson, 2 Coy, said: 
 
“The training has been emotional, the heat and the environment is so much harder to deal with than any other I have experienced. I am really looking forward to getting some proper kip and freshening up.”
 
It's the first time 1CG have exercised in Belize and conducted jungle warfare training. They've been working closely alongside the Belizean Defence Force (BDF) to reinforce UK commitment and maintain enduring relationships. 
 
Photography courtesy of the Coldstream Guards.

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