18th to 20th May 2016 – the story so far
Training has now commenced in earnest and we quickly saw how motivated and happy to be here the Malawian troops were. Being selected for the course is seen as an honour within the MDF and there were more than 2 applicants for every place offered, even getting a space on the course was an achievement. From the most junior Rifleman to the most senior officer, the MDF see recce as a vital skill the army needs.
The first full day of training involved getting the basics right and our 7 Rifles demo troop were well employed showing the MDF how things should be done. The heat in the day is a significant challenge when carrying kit and it will be a few days until we acclimatise but the lads are doing well and enjoying working with the Malawians’. To the MDF this is winter time and we are all amazed when they arrive wearing gloves even though we are sweltering!
Day two of the course moved into a blank firing phase where drills were put into practice. The MDF use a mixture of weapons but on this course they are carrying the FN FAL 7.62mm rifles (similar to the old British SLR) and General Purpose Machine Guns (GPMGs). Whilst the MDF troops have been trained in British tactics the 3 Rifles instructor have a limited amount of time to achieve a lot in the next few days before the final exercise.
We have also learned a bit about our shared regimental history. In 1902, all British military forces in East and Central Africa were consolidated and renamed the King’s African Rifles and served with distinction in both the first and second world wars. After independence in 1964, the King’s African Rifles became the First Battalion of Malawi Rifles of the Malawian Army. To this day the Malawi Rifles wear a cap badge with the same bugle that we wear in the Rifles.