On 13 March 2017 the British Army Trans Americas Expedition team will take on the Pan-American Highway when it leaves Tierra del Fuego at the southern tip of South America on a 20,000 mile journey to Prudhoe Bay on the northern coast of Alaska. The distance to be covered is over three quarters the circumference of the world and will involve travelling through 15 countries and include crossing the infamous Darien Gap.
For the last year the team has applied its leadership and military skills to plan and prepare for the expedition. The six men, each on a motorbike and with no support team, aim to ride the length of the Americas in just three months. Each member has brought a certain skillset to the team from medical and mechanical expertise to core skills such as patrol planning, navigation, survival and administration.
“The journey has already been tough and we are yet to start,” said Major Nick Foulerton SCOTS DG, the expedition leader. “This fantastic opportunity presents a very diverse and extreme set of challenges throughout this extensive ride, where our leadership and skills will be tested in some truly harsh and demanding environments.”
Nick and his team, consisting of Major Adam Szczerbiuk RA, Surgeon Lieutenant Alex Bamford RN, Staff Sergeant Tony Cotty REME, Corporal Tom Makin RM, and Leading Medical Assistant Lee Macpherson RN, hope to demonstrate the rewards and benefits of being in the Armed Forces. They are also using this as a foundation event to showcase what can be achieved through motorised adventure and place the British Army’s Motorsports Association at the top of this discipline.
“This will be a true test of resourcefulness, robustness, stamina and endurance for men and their machines,” explained Major Foulerton.
Between Panama and Colombia lies the reason why the Americas are not connected by road – the Darien Gap. This vast expanse of virgin rainforest, swamp and mountains, the size of Belgium, has defied many attempts to cross its interior.
In 1971, a similar military expedition under the leadership of Colonel John Blashford-Snell OBE took on the route. A team of over 100 men and women took three months to force their two Range Rovers through the 300 mile wide Darien Gap. To this day, no one has repeated the feat.
“I’m delighted to find that there are some others in this world who are prepared to try and follow our tyre marks through the Darien Gap,” said Colonel Blashford-Snell.
The British Army Trans Americas Expedition team will once again demonstrate that the British Military remains capable of conducting such audacious adventures at the forefront of overland exploration.