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The final sprint

Alarms went off and lights went on at 04:00 hours at Depot Company’s Barracks on Thursday 18 October 2021. The rude awakening was directed at soldiers who had spent the last few months undergoing Combat Corps Training (CCT).

29 November, 2021

Combat Corps Training (CCT) is a 15-week course that aims to prepare soldiers to operate as efficient members of a rifle platoon. The unexpected wake-up call signalled the start of Exercise Combat Warrior, a longest-day style, skill-at-arms competition.

The final sprint when it comes to CCT, Exercise Combat Warrior, formally marks the end of the soldiers’ training. While they knew the exercise was coming up, they didn’t know that it would be taking place a day earlier than scheduled. The surprise element, meant they had to quickly focus and pull through as a team.

Working in sections, the day began with a kit inspection, followed by a challenging two-hour Physical Training session, designed to fatigue the soldiers. With that out of the way, the soldiers went on to rotate through a variety of stands including pistol shooting, pair’s assault, and individual stands focussed on medical, signalling, observation lanes, weapon testing, armoured vehicle recognition and navigational skills.

The day finished at 17:30 with the conduct of the ‘BET’; an eight kilometre pack march to be completed in 72 minutes. If that wasn’t enough, sections also had to complete a confidence course comprising a 25-metre body drag, a 100 metre fireman’s carry and a five metre rope climb.

Depot Company, the training unit for 2nd/1st Battalion Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment, has been preparing the soldiers for this moment with extensive preparation and training. Second Lieutenant Alexander Gislason and Second Lieutenant Zane Blackman say the day is a memorable one for the soldiers who participate. 

Pistol shooting at Aylesbury Range, Burnham Military Camp

“This is less about a training exercise and more of a competition. Combat Warrior tests soldiers’ knowledge and skills, whilst under mental and physical fatigue. It allows soldiers the opportunity to compete with their peers by putting what they have learnt on the course into practice. The awards contested for are Top Individual and Top Section, providing further incentives for the soldiers to challenge themselves and finish strongly amongst their peers,” 2LT Blackman said.

PTE George Engleback was one of the high achievers during the exercise. While he said he was pretty sore by the end of it, the highs most definitely outweighed the lows.

“I’ve worked with the people in my section for four months now and to finish CCT with one last big smash with the pack march was pretty mean. I think it was a really good way to end the day with a hard physical task. The fact that it was a team effort, was without a doubt what helped to get each of us across the finish line,” he said.

Soldiers react to a medical scenario

“This is less about a training exercise and more of a competition. Combat Warrior tests soldiers’ knowledge and skills, whilst under mental and physical fatigue. It allows soldiers the opportunity to compete with their peers by putting what they have learnt on the course into practice. The awards contested for are Top Individual and Top Section, providing further incentives for the soldiers to challenge themselves and finish strongly amongst their peers,” 2LT Blackman said.

PTE George Engleback was one of the high achievers during the exercise. While he said he was pretty sore by the end of it, the highs most definitely outweighed the lows.

“I’ve worked with the people in my section for four months now and to finish CCT with one last big smash with the pack march was pretty mean. I think it was a really good way to end the day with a hard physical task. The fact that it was a team effort, was without a doubt what helped to get each of us across the finish line,” he said.

Pairs assault through the bush

Top Soldier went to TPR Ethan Dawson, who was surprised at the result. Additionally, TPR Dawson’s section won Top Section overall.

“Obviously the day was physically challenging, but it was mentally tough too. The sigs stand was one of the hardest, you’ve got to assemble the radio, attach the antenna and handset, load up the radio and make sure it’s on the right frequency, and that’s before you’ve even got on to the scenario. I didn’t expect to do as well as I did, so that was pretty cool. A lot of that was due to team effort. My section worked so well together and we gave everything 100 per cent,” he said.

Depot Company marched out in late November where soldiers were presented with their ‘Red Diamonds’, signifying their new qualification.