It's a non-stop, fast and furious exercise

Ammunition resupply - at top speed
Ammunition resupply - at top speed

Nearly seventy of the Royal Gibraltar Regiment’s private soldiers are hard at work in Exercise Rock Warrior, an annual 48 hour endurance test.

The exercise forms a part of the selection process to choose the twenty-four soldiers who will go forward to the ‘Pre-Junior NCOs’ cadre, in Sennybridge next month. Those who are successful at Sennybridge will then be qualified for promotion to Lance Corporal: in the Army’s folklore, this is the toughest promotion to achieve – and the easiest one to lose.

At the beginning of February, all Privates in G and B Companies were issued with a study pack containing eight chapters on First Aid, Mine Awareness, Regimental History, Weapon Identification, etc. Now they are being tested on their skill and their knowledge – but the problems are to be solved, not in a classroom, but on the Upper Rock and out on the Buffadero Training Area.

The exercise continues non-stop, day and night, despite the appalling weather. The troops move from one test to another on foot, carrying about 30 kg in their rucksacks and at no stage do they know what will be facing them when they arrive at their next checkpoint.

"For example," said a spokesman,"at the ‘Nerve Agent’ test, the troops, wearing full chemical protection suits, have to carry an incapacitated colleague about 100 metres up a steep slope. They are only tested on their knowledge of ‘Nerve Agents’ when, exhausted, they reach the top."

The whole exercise was devised and conducted by Sergeant Chris Canepa. “This is a fast and furious exercise,’ said Chris. "The tests are designed to show which individuals can show leadership and think clearly even when they are wet, tired and hungry. I even arranged for a thunder and lightning storm just as they were setting out!"

"The weather has made it particularly difficult," said Private Bradley McKenzie as he enjoyed a very short rest period. "We’ve had no sleep for thirty hours but, considering what we’ve been through, I think we’re doing all right."

When they leave Buffadero tomorrow, there will be some exhausted soldiers heading back to Devil's Tower Camp.