Exercise Western Chill 2012 started out cold & wet with the cadets putting into practice the skills they learnt on how to put up their hutchie so as to keep themselves and their kit dry. A large tarp was erected on Friday afternoon by the Advance Party to act as a wet weather area for the cadets during phase one prior to re-deploying on Saturday morning out into the field. Everyone’s fingers and toes were crossed that the sun would make an appearance on Saturday, and thankfully, the sun didn’t disappoint us.
The rain and the absence of a number of key personnel on Friday night also saw a change in the Sequence of Events with the Op-force unable to deploy and prepare for the major phase of the exercise. They finally deployed early on Saturday morning to a location unknown to the rest of the cadets. The Unit, minus the EBA staff finally got underway and deployed out into the field to their week-ends Security position where the establishment of their position and exercise tasking started. All these under the guidance of the Training Advisers and for the last time on a Field Exercise, two of our CWOs. The cadets had to secure their location; man a Strong Point 24/7; set up their living areas; set up a Field Latrine; send out clearing, recon & OP patrols plus have cadets rostered on in assisting at the EBA Field kitchen. Not much time to sit back and enjoy the experience of just being out “camping”. This was for most of the cadets, the first time they had to take command, issue & receive orders, live in the field, be involved in military skills, carry out basic field/bush craft, live with other cadets and work as a team. Well done to all, especially those cadets with Command Appointments.
In the meantime, the Parent Support Group stayed behind at Base Headquarters and saw to the catering of all the meals during the weekend. The staff ensured that all cadets were adequately fed and hydrated. As in all our activities especially the Field Exercises, if the PSG was not there and assisting there would not be any activities for the cadets to attend. The Parents should thank Anthea, Rebecca & Colin.
Exercise Western Chill 2012 gave the cadets an opportunity to deploy to the field in a Tactical Environment with a high level of pressure being subjected onto them to carry out the tasks required of them. The Commanding Officer ensured that safety was the top priority throughout the exercise with a detailed safety brief given prior to any activity. The only medical occurrences were a couple of stomach upsets, dizziness and insect bites.
When asked what the best part of the exercise was, the cadets answered; “When two of the cadets got taken hostage and listening to the negotiations to have them returned” and “The attack on the Op-Force camp”. The exchange of food & soft drink for the cadet hostages finally was agreed on; there will be no more napping off during Observation Post duties. The OPFOR enjoyed the “Spoils of War” so to speak, better than noodles and rice they were living on up at the OPFOR camp. Big thanks must go to the members of OPFOR, LT, WO1, SPR and parent, Thor Carlton; especially the two C-C’s for the detailed preparation they put into making it as realistic and exciting as possible for the cadets. It was tough on the OPFOR members as by Sunday morning only two remained standing.
The Exercise went as smoothly as possible with the exception of some “minor” navigational problems. As in any activity the unit conducts, there are always areas which we can and will improve on for the next one. As a result of the problems associated with the level of navigation, the next exercise which was “Ex survivor12” will now be “Ex Cadet Advance” centred on improving the units Navigational Skills. The cadets should start preparing to return to the RFTA in September; on a good note, it won’t be as cold as EXWC12.