A Peterborough soldier has been battling the jungle in preparation for overseas missions in some of the toughest terrains on the planet.
Lance Corporal Kier Kelly, (22), from Peterborough, has been training in the central American rain forest in Belize as part of the brutal training sessions.
L Cpl Kelly, who is based in Portsmouth as a member of the 2nd Battalion Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment has been learning how to do battle and keep himself alive in the impenetrable vegetation. From finding food and water in the wilderness to creating fire and fighting through the trees, the unit is being put through its paces to drill each soldier in jungle warfare.
He said: “It has been an amazing opportunity.
“It’s a completely different experience to anything I have done before with the army.
“It is what I joined the army to do. Not many people can say they have done something like this and come to the jungle and learn these skills.”
The training sessions are held in specially created ‘classrooms,’ teaching them survival skills - as well as combat practice with shooting ranges in the middle of the jungle.
L Cpl Kelly said:” “After learning all the aspects of jungle survival we are being sent out to fend for ourselves in a group and I’m really looking forward to that. It will be a good test of everything we have learned.
“The exercise has been really useful and it’s important that we get the opportunity to come and do things like this to bring our skills up to the highest possible standard that they can be.
“Living in the jungle is going to be a lot of fun and I can’t wait to see what we can do.”
Along with the thick jungle, the team has had to deal with the high temperatures while carrying a heavy set of equipment. Each soldier carries a pack weighing around 40kg and webbing – the system of belts and pouches which carries their ammunition and other small items of kit – which adds an extra 8kg. Some carry a machine gun which weighs around 13kg.
Warrant Officer Colin Lewis, the company sergeant major, says the exercise is different from anything the soldiers will have attempted before.
He said: “The range is extremely hard to cross and move through. ‘You’ve got the wildlife to deal with and the uneven ground which can easily trip you up. You really have to be on the ball to make it through.”