Brave reservists taken on tough Army assault courseBy Jennie Slevin
February 13, 2013
Brave civilians from Bracknell Forest took part in a gruelling exercise weekend during the Army Reservists’ new year training.
Warrant Officer Steve Collins and Craftsman Barry McSweeney joined more than 50 soldiers from 94 Berkshire Yeomanry Signal Squadron for the annual Exercise Cold Start training at Longmoor, Hampshire.
In freezing temperatures of -5C, the two men left their day jobs and families behind to take part in simulated operations training from Friday, January 18.
Captain Dawn Saunders, recruiting officer for the Territorial Army, now known as Reservists, said: “This weekend has traditionally been our new year wake-up call.
“It is always a good first exercise to blow all the cobwebs away and get us ready for our training for 2013.”
WO Collins, of Glebewood, Easthampstead, is also a recruiting officer.
The 39-year-old, who is married with three children has been a member of the TA for 15 years and works for procurement firm Proxima Group when he’s not training with the Army.
Cpt Saunders, from Binfield, said: “He’s been with us for a long time and often brings his children along to events and gets them in the uniform.”
Thirty-one-year-old Cfn McSweeney, of Hanworth, who works for Dematic, was recruited by Cpt Saunders six years ago.
She added: “He works as a mechanical engineer, so he’s in charge of fixing all our vehicles so we can go out in the field.”
The training weekend was a chance for the Reservists to brush up on some of the skills they may have forgotten during their everyday careers.
Cpt Saunders said: “The exercise scenario was very high profile and similar to something they would come across in Afghanistan.
“A terrorist force had been planning attacks on many fronts within Europe and the USA, and the latest attack in the UK had consisted of more than 100 terrorists storming a southern Army camp.
“The squadron were briefed and called in to support their Regular Counterparts and to provide secure communications to the Task Force.
“We have some of the chaps who have been on tour and have done some of these things for real and then the young soldiers who need to learn these skills, but can do the training in the comfort of Longmoor.
“They’re usually up all night, camping in freezing conditions.
“It sounds strange but it’s really just about providing a good level of training for them.”
Cpt Saunders added: “We get a range of people of ages who sign up.
“Some do it when they’re 18 – as soon as they can – and others are a bit older.
“Especially since the maximum age increased, we get people in their 40s who have always wanted to join but have never taken the chance.”
The Army Reservists will be holding a recruitment day in Windsor on Saturday, February 9.
For more information call (01753) 860 860 of go to www.army.mod.uk.