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Household Cavalry soldiers tested in Brunei

31 January 2017

Household Cavalry soldiers have been developing and testing their reconnaissance skills in the demanding jungles of Brunei.

They have been conducting long range reconnaissance and live firing in some of the most demanding terrain on the planet.

Soldiers take part in hugely realistic and challenging live firing package, fighting through vegetation as they put down a devastating, accurate fire in support of each other.

Household Cavalry soldiers are very familiar to the public in the State Ceremonial role, the Trusted Guardians of HM The Queen on their famous black horses; however, at any given time the large majority of Household Cavalry soldiers are at operational duty as reconnaissance soldiers.

Having just completed a year of being at high readiness to deploy across the world mounted in their light armoured vehicles, they have taken the opportunity to hone their dismounted skills.

A contrast from the ceremonial role: Guardsman Rafi, Scots Guards, applies cam cream.

Exercise ULU RAJAH is five weeks of tough, realistic training in a close country tropical environment. Even the simplest tasks become challenging with visibility reduced to a few metres, intensely hot and humid conditions, clouds of biting insects, poisonous plants and animals, a canopy that blocks out the sun and extremely steep terrain.

Pristine primary jungle

The exercise consists of a series of progressive phases, immersing soldiers normally based in Windsor into the demands of living and fighting in pristine primary jungle. They have practised operating in small teams, finding an elusive enemy in deep jungle and striking when least expected.

After a period of acclimatisation in which specialist Jungle Warfare Instructors from across the army have delivered important lessons in jungle tactics and procedures, the Troops were quickly tested by having to swim in covert teams with all their equipment across the River Tutong (ensuring they do not attract attention from the crocodiles) and complete a package of surviving in the jungle, living off what they can find.

Lance Corporal Hubbard, Scots guards prepares to lead the first leg on a tough jungle nav exercise.

Navigation and communications skills have been tested to the full as troops deploy on long patrols, learning how to use basic navigational aids to arrive at precisely the right place and reporting what they find, planning routes through some of the most complex terrain on earth – all this without being seen.

The culmination of Exercise ULU RAJAH is a force-on-force exercise, in which Household Cavalry soldiers will be divided into Task Forces, charged with finding and striking each other’s logistical support areas. There are few more elusive or determined groups to take on than their fellow Household Cavalrymen!

"striving to improve"

Exercise ULU RAJAH is a fantastic opportunity for Household Cavalrymen to test and develop their core reconnaissance skills in a hugely demanding environment. They have benefited from the wisdom of instructors from across the Army, been challenged at every turn by the terrain, weather and tactics that come with jungle operations and are fully embracing a unique training environment.

Maj Roly Spiller, Officer Commanding A Squadron, said: “This is an unrivalled training opportunity for Household Cavalry soldiers. As the Trusted Guardians we are constantly striving to improve our skills, and the jungles of Brunei offer a perfect environment in which to develop personal skills and drills, teamwork and leadership at every level.

"Morale is extremely high, and I have been delighted at the way everyone, whether exercising or supporting, has risen to the immense challenge of operating in such difficult conditions. The jungle demands the very best from every soldier, and we have been wonderfully supported in creating a richly varied package that tests and develops each aspect of soldiering to the full. We will undoubtedly return home better soldiers individually and collectively, ready to take on any challenge.”

The two patrols of 1 Troop meet halfway through their navigation exercise and have enough time for a group photo.

The exercise has been supported by soldiers from across the Army, with attached Royal Army Medical Corps Medics deploying forward with every Household Cavalry Troop and a small number of Scots Guards and Royal Gurkha Rifles spread among the exercising Troops; attached soldiers from the Royal Logistic Corp and Adjutant General’s Corps have enabled the exercise to happen.

Instructors have come from the Coldstream, Scots and Irish Guards, the Royal Gurkha Rifles, the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, the Mercian Regiment, 1st Regiment Royal Horse Artillery, 5th Regiment Royal Artillery. The whole thing has been made possible by an enormous amount of support and advice from British Forces Brunei, in particular First Battalion the Royal Gurkha Rifles, 7 Flight Army Air Corps and the Jungle Warfare Division of the Infantry Battle School.

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