Monthly Archives: March 2013

Nordic Ski Team

Exercise Ski (RLC) 2013

Nordic Ski Team 

Returning to the Nordic Ski Team after two years ‘on the beat’ as a Metropolitan Police Officer, Corporal Graham Foster skied brilliantly throughout to finish 7th overall in the TA and 38th of 120 in the Corps. Keen not to be outdone by his son, Staff Sergeant John Foster’s stamina won through as he achieved a personal best result in the 15km Classic which helped him towards a 14th overall in the TA and 55th in the Corps. Leading out the Military Patrol Race Team to an outstanding 3rd placed TA Team was WO2 John Skinner who also achieved 13th overall in the TA and 52nd in the Corps. Private Gareth Walsh returned for his second season and improved with every race, his best being the 10km Freestyle where he did a top job for the Team. Gareth placed 10th overall in the TA and 43rd in the Corps, a great result for an inexperienced skier. The ‘old man’ of the team was Captain Terry Hall whose body just about held up for some key races and that enabled him to finish overall 11th in the TA and 48th in the Corps. The Team’s ‘Nordic Novice’ was Craftsman Luke Doe REME who has not skied before this season; yet he trained very hard on rollerskis and produced a series of gutsy performances on snow to finish 2nd TA Novice and well up the overall rankings but sadly was not eligible for individual prizes. Thankfully that did not matter when it came to the team event because as the only Novice Luke had to ski in every race, including the Military Patrol, so he contributed wholeheartedly towards the superb 3rd overall in the TA Nordic Team Competition and the excellent overall Corps Alpine and Nordic Combined TA Runners-Up (Silver Medals) that 151 (London) Transport Regiment RLC (V) won. It was a truly tremendous team effort throughout, the dedication from all was immense and consistency won through to enable the squad to produce a top result.

151 Nordic Ski Team

151 Nordic Ski Team

Alpine Ski Team

The Regimental Alpine team was formed from Maj Paul Gotobed (Team Captain), 2Lt Simon Sykes, SSgt Drew Johnston, SSgt David Bond, Cpl Ben Bray and Pte Tarj Sevier. The competition started with a couple of training days, an opportunity to find your ‘ski legs’ and for our novice, Pte Sevier, who had had only 2hrs of ski tuition in a snow dome prior to the competition, to realise what he had volunteered into… After a couple of days all the competitors were seeded into their start positions; a ‘one-off’ Giant Slalom race to work out those who could and those that will learn quickly! For those skiers that have skied socially this is the big awakening as they stand at the top of the course in the starting gate with the timing machine emitting the tell-tale beeps that your turn has come; with a push out of the gate down the slope you career trying your best to get the right way around the gates as the slope of the hill gets steeper and steeper and the speed increases. With a first refusal by our newest skier, he soon sorted himself out and down he went, adrenaline flowing. The duck had been broken and now the competition started in earnest; The first full day of racing was the individual Giant Slalom; unfortunately Cpl Bray had a disaster on the slope and this counted against him for the remainder of the competition as his seeding points pushed him further back in the start list. The second race day was the team Giant Slalom, where all the team skied well however the Scottish, Welsh and Irish Regiments all were in front; a friendly competitive rivalry and competition had started… The next race is the ‘Super G’ for this the competitors moved to Goetschen for the one only attempt at the Super G – the one race counted to both the individual and team scores. With the whole slope closed to the public and the German National Female Youth team showing us how it should be done we started from the top and threw ourselves down the mountain, most avoiding the man-made jump after considering the strategy of team completion and points – well we need an excuse! The weather was fantastic and the course was great however, as always, it is only after the run that the nerves have settled that you are ready to give it another go and your all – unfortunately not an option in this case. SSgt ‘Speedy’ Bond definitely came to the fore on the Super G! We now entered the realm of the Slalom; a shorter more technical course with more gates and tighter turns now the competition changed as the speed merchants fell to the wayside and the technical skiers come forward. Race three is the individual with Maj Gotobed finding himself No 3 out of the gate in the second race of the day; a position he wasn’t used to! The final race of the competition is the team competition and the most critical; where podium places are won and lost… With all the team captains keeping notes and updating where their competitors were currently standing.

151 Alpine Ski Team

151 Alpine Ski Team

The Scots were still way ahead; the Welsh dropping behind and unfortunately for the Irish a non-finisher and disqualification saw them fall by the wayside – the competition was now open to the final run and with instructions to ‘ski fast but safe’ off the team went. Where did we finish? Well we made it onto the podium just (only due to the disqualification of the Irish) with third place (TA) Alpine. Though in the overall competition with those teams who enter a team into both disciplines (Alpine and Nordic) we fought through into Silver, TA runners-up; an unexpected and welcome result! So well done to the team especially our novice; Pte Sevier who soon found his ski-legs and his way down the hill. Want to know more or see the results and photographs? Log onto

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Combat Logistic Patrols (CLP)

The LAD’s role on CLP’s

As previously explained the CSLR’s primary role are CLPs (Combat Logistic Patrols). The LAD is expected to provide support for every CLP. We have a REME wagon, manned by two VMs (Vehicle Mechanics), which deploys out of camp with each CLP.

The vehicle we use is a Mann SV with crane – a HIAB. We carry spare tyres, a toolbox, oils, lubricants and various other items enabling us to attempt to fix any problems with the vehicles that may occur on the Op. If the problem is not something we can readily repair, there are also Recovery Assets to recover the problem vehicle back to CampBastion.

Local children seen in the CLP

Local children seen in the CLP

As I am based in CampBastion, CLPs are the only opportunity I have to get out of camp and go ‘outside the wire’. I have been on 4 CLPs so far and have to say, I have enjoyed each of them. For each Op we go on, we are given a set of Orders well in advance, fully briefing us on all aspects of the CLP. Once we know exactly where we are going and when, we ‘battle prep’ our vehicle i.e. get the GPMG (General Purpose Machine Gun) for the top cover, ammunition, rations, water, radios, night vision devices etc. The Drivers have to do the same for their vehicles. On completion of battle prep, drivers and vehicle commanders go on Enforced Rest. This allows them to get plenty of downtime and sleep before driving for the Op ahead.

The CLPs go out of Camp Bastion at various times. All those deploying on the Op have to be at their vehicle 2 hours before the Op goes out to rectify any glitches which are usually vehicle faults and comms problems. Everyone is also given an update on any changes to the route or destinations. Due to the potential vehicle problems there are also two members of the LAD (a Class 1 and Class 2 VM) that are on hand to fix any vehicle faults. The LAD’s role is therefore vital to the smooth running of the CLPs.

The LAD wagon with myself and Lcpl Angus from the LAD  and Lcpl Nicholson, Recovery Mechanic

The LAD wagon with myself and Lcpl Angus from the LAD and Lcpl Nicholson, Recovery Mechanic

Each CLP varies in length and can last anything up to 36 hours, which might include an overnight stop at a FOB or MOB.. As things change on the move, timings often change too. It is important that the drivers on the Op get enough rest if the CLP overruns to avoid them being overtired at the wheel.

As VMs, we are often called upon during the Op. The faults that occur can be simple, such as a tyre change or broken door ram, or they can be more complex such as a snapped belt or electrical faults. If the problem is not something the VMs can fix relatively swiftly with the tools that we have to hand, the Recovery Mechanics will hook the vehicle to one of their Recovery Vehicles (SV(R)) and tow it back to CampBastion to be dealt with by the LAD. The Recovery call signs are provided by 1 (CS) Battalion REME. Each Recovery asset has a Vehicle Mechanic as well as a Recovery Mechanic. As the CLP usually breaks up into smaller packets to attend different locations, there is a Recovery asset with each packet. We have only one LAD wagon which will always go to the furthest location on the CLP.

I enjoy the opportunity to get out of Camp and to see parts of Afghanistan. There is, of course, a risk of enemy contact on each CLP. That is why there is always  enough personnel in each wagon, including top cover observing their arcs. When I went on my first CLP I was surprised to see the living conditions of the locals. I have to say, it was a humbling experience. The more you go out though, the less surprised you are by what you see. Our wagons are constantly ‘stoned’ by the local children. This causes damage usually to the light clusters at the rear, mirrors and window screens. The feelings of sympathy soon fade. It is clear that there are mixed feelings amongst the local Afghans as to our presence here.

CLPs are vitally important out here, as I have highlighted in previous editions. The LADs role is essential to the continued maintenance of the vehicles. If the vehicles are not road worthy, the CLPs would not exist.

Time has gone very quickly for me on this tour. Having come back from my R&R the time is going quicker than ever. We will be leaving theatre next month as Herrick 18 takes over. The vehicles are up to a good standard for the handover/takeover and we are officially on our countdown to going home. However, it is important for us all to not get complacent. We still have a job to do and our tour does not finish until we are all back safe in the UK.

5th Edition: End of Tour

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