North West university Officer Cadets on Ex ANNUAL SWORD


Some 250 Officer Cadets and Staff from the North West Officer Training Regiment (NWOTR) travelled to Sennelager, Northern Germany, in June to take part in Exercise ANNUAL SWORD, the culmination of the Regiment’s yearly training events.

Designed to replicate the phases of an operational tour, the programme began with a Reception, Staging and Onward Integration (RSOI) package of briefings and training.  The package began with an opportunity for Officer Cadets to practise their marksmanship skills on the ranges, firing SA80 A2, 9mm pistols and Underslung Grenade Launchers.  The Officer Cadets then moved on to an Individual Battle Skills Range where they practised fire and manoeuvre.  The package culminated with a live firing exercise simulating a platoon in defence where the Cadets were contacted with an IED and then moved through a number of positions firing SA80 A2 and GPMG.  The Royal Engineers and Royal Electrical Mechanical Engineers also joined the exercise to demonstrate their capabilities to the Officer Cadets.

The Officer Cadets moved into Forward Operating Bases for the three days in order to conduct a field exercise consisting of patrolling, section attacks and conducting Vehicle Check Points.  This exercise culminated in the early hours of Saturday morning when NWOTR conducted two Company level deliberate attacks against enemy positions.  All of the Officer Cadets worked very hard over this challenging exercise with maximum effort during the final attack.

In the NATO Officers’ Mess, the Officer Cadets enjoyed a well-earned Summer Ball with a German-themed dinner and dancing until the early hours.  The night was great fun and, tired as they were, they still managed to thoroughly enjoy themselves. 

In the following week, the Officer Cadets undertook Adventurous Training (AT), during which the Regiment split into four groups, each of which were rotated through four different activities. On Monday, my syndicate went to visit Bergen-Belsen, the location of the first concentration camp to be liberated by the Allied forces during the Second World War.  This visit provided the opportunity to reflect on the Holocaust and the vast human cost of the war. 

On Tuesday, the Officer Cadets donned their skis at one of Europe’s largest in-door ski centres.  Competitive as ever, they spent a fun and boisterous day on the slopes honing the skills they had learned earlier in the year during the Regiment’s annual ski expedition.

The AT continued as the Officer Cadets enjoyed water sports and went mountain biking in Mohneesse and across the Mohn Dam, a location made famous by the Dambusters raid. 

Finally, on Thursday my syndicate went to Arnhem to learn about Op MARKET GARDEN, a famous battle from the Second World War popularised in the film ‘A Bridge to Far’.  The Officer Cadets were guided through the city and taken to key locations that were critical in the battle.  The event provided the opportunity for them to contrast what they had learned in the first week of their military training. 

All of the Officer Cadets who took part in Ex ANNUAL SWORD 2017 learned a lot about the Army and also about themselves. Having completed a challenging five-day field exercise and giving a 100% effort, the Cadets richly deserved the interesting and informative AT package that was delivered in the second week of the exercise.  I think all of NWOTR’s Officer Cadets would agree – a great way to start the Summer!

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