Exercise Cambrian Patrol is an annual event organised and run by 160th Infantry Brigade and Headquarters Wales.
It is a world-class event that is both physically and mentally demanding and is a highlight in the British Army’s training calendar.
Internationally, it is regarded as one of the toughest tests the modern-day soldier can face and some foreign entrants have to claim the right to take part by winning through their own domestic competition.
This year’s event will see Kosovo take part for the first time, aiming to navigate their way through some of the harshest terrain in mid-Wales.
They will join international patrols representing teams from Latvia, Mexico, Nepal, Canada, Italy, Georgia, Germany, Pakistan, Australia, Czech Republic, New Zealand, India, Ireland, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Belgium, Chile, Kosovo, Brazil, Switzerland.
Planning for the patrol is crucial.
Exercise Cambrian Patrol itself began in 1959, when a group of Welsh Territorial Army soldiers designed a weekend training event, featuring long distance marching over the Cambrian Mountains, culminating in a shooting match on the Sennybridge training area.
This year’s exercise runs from Friday, October 14, through to Sunday, October 23. Each phase will be split between two patrol bases at separate locations in Mid Wales.
On arriving at the assembly area teams are subjected to a thorough check to ensure that they are in possession of the correct kit, equipment and clothing required for the exercise.
Mind and muscle
Patrol commanders will then be given a set of orders based on a specific scenario, for onward briefing to members of their patrol before they are taken to a number of drop-off points in the hills.
The exercise is split into eight phases with soldiers marching a mind-and-muscle sapping 55km carrying full personal kit and equipment, weighing in at some 60lbs, on the two-day patrolling mission.
Navigating by day and night, the patrols face many testing and specialist challenges, including cold river crossings in full kit, a first-aid test and an enemy attack. At the completion of the exercise each patrol faces a comprehensive debriefing session on their mission.
This year the exercise has been refreshed again with new stands to enhance its reputation as world class.
Military skills, stamina and dedication are constantly evaluated during the patrol and marked with a system of points. Teams that successfully complete their mission are awarded a gold, silver or bronze medal or certificate of merit, depending on the total number of points they have gained.