Combined Cadet Force practises combat and concealment
Edmund Smith, Lower Sixth, files his report from the field
The Combined Cadet Force field weekend was a resounding success, with almost all present taking away a vast wealth of new skills and experiences.
After preparing for the weekend and travelling to RAF Bassingbourn, the section began a cycle of lessons run by a mixture of SNCOs, staff, and Lower Sixth. Highlights included a valuable and enjoyable lesson on pepperpot drills, as well as one on camouflage and concealment which included making improvised Ghillie suits. A pair of challenging night exercises put the skills of concealment, navigation and leadership we had practised that day to the test.
In the aftermath of the night’s cutting cold, we awoke to a snow-frosted morning. Despite the cold the section maintained its high morale with a mixture of food and witty banter, and was thus prepared for the challenges of the day. Sunday's activities included a mixture of laser combat and perhaps one of the highlights of the weekend – firing the cadet GP rifles with blank ammunition. The laser combat was fought with considerably more tactical awareness and communication than on previous occasions, meaning that exercises were hard-fought and often involved developed and well-orchestrated tactics.
The blank firing drills built upon the pepperpot drills of the previous day. Although tightly controlled, the realism of actually being able to fire the weapon was a hugely beneficial experience that extended the weapon handling and communication skills of previous training sessions as well as providing an immensely enjoyable experience for all involved.
The final night exercise was unfortunately cut short due to the onset of cold winds that would be likely to sap the morale of the section and reduce the value of training. Nonetheless, groups had developed from the previous evening, with navigation skills improving and many groups no longer relying on their torches but putting their faith in their night vision and concealment skills. Of particular note was the outstanding standard of the anti-ambush drills displayed by certain groups. The final exercise of the day was a radio exercise, which was clearly well designed and well improvised given a sudden change of location.
Instead of remaining at RAF Bassingbourn, the section returned that night to the Perse site; the warmth of the Outdoor Pursuits Centre hut a welcome relief for many in the section. It seemed to some of us a great shame that we couldn't complete the final night at Bassingbourn, but on reflection this decision did ensure that all were refreshed and alert in the morning, ready to return to the world of The Perse.
After field weekend it is inevitably the case that one either returns to normal life exhausted, or refreshed and filled with new energy. I am delighted to be able to say that on this occasion the latter was far more common than the former. For this, and for all the skills we had been taught and experiences we have had, we thank the staff who sacrificed their time to make it possible, as well as the SNCOs and Lower Sixth who assisted in constructing activities. May the CCF go on to yet greater heights, one field weekend at a time.