Patrols have to navigate both day and night across the area. Credit: Crown Copyright
Army

Cambrian Patrol - What Is It And Who Takes Part?

Exercise Cambrian Patrol is marking its 60th Anniversary but what is the British Army event?

Patrols have to navigate both day and night across the area. Credit: Crown Copyright

Cambrian Patrol is the British Army’s largest and toughest event of its kind and those taking part compete just to get a place in one of the teams.

This year's event is now underway, marking the 60th anniversary of the exercise.

What Is Cambrian Patrol?

Cambrian Patrol first began in 1959 and was known as the ‘Cambrian March’, a Territorial Army Competition which tested reservist’s map-reading skills and fitness.

It is an arduous test of leadership, teamwork and physical fitness in achieving a mission. The British Army says:

"The aim of The Cambrian Patrol is to provide a challenging patrols exercise in order to enhance operational capability."

The event is run every year with applications accepted from all three services (regular and reserve forces), and a variety of overseas military units.

In the latest exercise, reservists followed an arduous route of over 74 miles from Hay-on-Wye to Maesteg, marching over the peaks of Brecon Beacons and the Black Mountains where the event culminated in a shooting competition.

This is while carrying full personal kit and equipment which can weigh in at some 50lbs.

Patrols will cover miles across the Brecon Beacons. Credit: Crown Copyright
Patrols will cover miles across the Brecon Beacons. Credit: Crown Copyright

Today, the event is known as ‘Exercise Cambrian Patrol’, one of the Military’s toughest competitions and takes place near the Brecon Beacons in Wales every year.

In 1985, the event was restructured as an exercise by General Sir Peter de la Billiere, General Officer Commanding Wales to facilitate and include the testing of basic military skills.

Teams will have to cross a water obstacle during Cambrian Patrol. Credit: Crown Copyright
Teams will have to cross a water obstacle during Cambrian Patrol. Credit: Crown Copyright

Modern Day Test Of Skills

Over the years the competition has been developed by military experts to ensure the training is validated and realistic and reflects modern-day soldier requirements.

It requires a huge amount of grit and perseverance. It is physically and mentally demanding and tests the team’s levels of endurance and determination.

 

Troops prepare in the Assembly Area of a previous Cambrian Patrol. Credit: Crown Copyright
Troops prepare in the Assembly Area of a previous Cambrian Patrol. Credit: Crown Copyright

What Does Cambrian Patrol Involve?

During the competition, commanders of the teams (Section Commanders) will be given orders for various scenarios before navigating their way over 60kms of arduous terrain throughout two days and two nights while overcoming numerous obstacles that include a water crossing.

Carrying kit and equipment, teams of eight will complete a succession of stands that test their soldiering skills and physical and mental endurance, face live enemies and undergo casualty evacuation procedures.

Troops board a Puma helicopter during a previous Cambrian Patrol. Credit: Crown Copyright
Troops board a Puma helicopter during a previous Cambrian Patrol. Credit: Crown Copyright

Chemical And Nuclear Threats

Those taking part must deal with chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threat exercises and they will be assessed on their ability to undertake section attacks, close target reconnaissance missions and mock improvised explosive finds and other realistic military scenarios.

The teams pick up points (and lose them) throughout the serials and are thoroughly debriefed on their performance upon completion.

Those who don’t accumulate enough points, or those who complete with five soldiers out of the initial eight, will be awarded a certificate.

Patrols will have to complete casualty extraction scenarios during the event. Credit: Crown Copyright
Patrols will have to complete casualty extraction scenarios during the event. Credit: Crown Copyright

When Is The 2019 Cambrian Patrol?

Cambrian Patrol runs from 11th-20th October 2019, split into eight phases and teams compete for gold, silver or bronze awards.

Nearly a third of teams who enter do not complete the competition and on average only five per cent of entrants will receive the gold award.

34 international teams will take part in the 2019 Cambrian Patrol. Credit: Crown Copyright
34 international teams will take part in the 2019 Cambrian Patrol. Credit: Crown Copyright

The 2019 event, the 60th anniversary, is the largest of its kind and is organised and run by Headquarters 160th Welsh Brigade. It is open to both Regular and Reserve British Military forces as well as foreign nations.

This year’s event has 140 teams taking part of which are 34 international teams, many of whom have taken part in domestic competitions in order to represent their country.