A team from the Indian Army’s 2/8 Gorkha Rifles won a gold medal at one of the most gruelling exercises in the world – the Cambrian Patrol, an annual international military patrolling exercise that makes its participating units cover an 80 km course in less than 48 hours while performing numerous types of military exercises in the rugged Cambrian Mountains and swamp lands of mid-Wales. Organised by the British Army, the Cambrian Patrol 2016 had 121 teams participating, each vying for excellence. It was first set up more than 40 years ago, by a group of Welsh Territorial Army soldiers who designed the training event to feature long distance marching over the Cambrian Mountains culminating in a shooting match on the Sennybridge training area. Since then, the exercise has been rigorously updated to meet the challenges faced by modern soldiers who are tested on 15 different parameters, ranging from NBC, knowledge of NATO weapons, tactical reconnaissance, combat first aid, mine field crossing, Geneva Conventions, et al.They are assessed on military skills, completion of orders and debrief and are given points based on their performances in several military tasks.
The competition consists of teams of eight men patrolling across some of the most unforgiving terrain. It’s a test of leadership, self-discipline, courage, physical endurance and determination. The exercise usually starts with teams arriving at a rendezvous before having their equipment checked to make sure they have everything required. Missing equipment will be replaced by dead weight and will mean points will be deducted. From there the team leader will be taken to orders while the rest of the team set up a quick hide, start their battle prep and prepare to receive orders i.e. prepare a model of the ground which will be covered during the patrol. Many of the teams that enter do not finish, those that do earn one of four distinctions; gold medal, silver medal, bronze medal, or passing. It is however not a competition. The Gold Medal is awarded for achieving a score of 75 per cent or above. A Silver medal is awarded for a score of 65 to 74 percent and bronze medal for a score of 55 to 64 percent. Certificates are awarded to teams that finish with lower than 55 percent of the points.
The British Army in
Walestweeted “Congratulations to 2nd Battalion 8 Gorkha Rifles on their gold medal at #Cambrian Patrol. Consistently superb.” After being presented the gold medal, the team from 2/8 GR then presented a memento, a traditional khukri, the central element in the regimental insignia of the Gorkha Rifles to the Brits
It’s been over ten years since the Indian Army has been sending a team to compete in the Cambrian Patrol. Selection for the team which goes to participate is rigorous. Beginning in November every year, a team from every infantry battalion competes to gain the pole position in the brigade, then division, then corps competition in order to reach the command competition. The top two teams from each Command are selected to participate in the Army level trials conducted at Commando Wing Belgaum. This process of competitions is completed by early April. The top two teams are further put through a set of exercises conducted at two different locations in August to run off for the privilege to represent the Indian Army at Wales in October. The first Indian Army team to win a gold medal at Wales was 4/9 GR in 2011. 8 Garhwal Rifles repeated the feat in 2014. And it’s 2/8 GR now. Well done and congratulations to team 2/8 GR for their magnificent performance.