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Brecon Death
July 21, 2016

Joined: May 12, 2014
Posts: 687
Brecon Death

July 21, 2016

It is very sad that another apparently fit young soldier has died whilst undergoing "training." Media reports indicate the young infantry corporal was on his promotion course at Brecon. Given the reported information I am assuming he was on the equivalent of what we knew as the CFT, an 8 mile forced march with full FMSO, weapon, Kevlar  helmet et al. After the march ended I seem to recall we had to carry someone of roughly the same size, plus their kit for 100 meters in one minute or less, do a special to arm task (carrying ammo shells sticks in my mind) and then pass the APWT at the end. Failing the APWT meant doing the whole thing again. Anyway, I also recall doing the CFT in Sennelager in heat that was certainly as hot as that recorded in Brecon when the young corporal sadly died. The soldiers started the march at a very responsible 7 am with a temperature of 18 degrees which rose to 24 degrees over the two hours it took to complete the March. The early start was clearly an appreciation of the day's expected hot conditions. If  the corporal had no unknown or underlying illnesses his death will almost certainly have been a result of heat stroke or dehydration. Both are absolutely preventable with basic precautions and given he was a veteran of two ME combat tours I am surprised at his death. Perhaps a PM will reveal other issues not yet known. But for all the sadness at his untimely and tragic death the baying of the press about irresponsible military chiefs allowing this to happen is rank nonsense. If we fail to train soldiers in hot and humid conditions how on earth will they cope with real heat and dessert conditions. Military training is hard, it needs to be, there will always be casualties, there always have been, that's the nature of the beast. You train hard to survive for real.

 

July 21, 2016

Joined: May 14, 2014
Posts: 977
Brecon Death

July 21, 2016

One death on such a training/testing program could perhaps be unfortunate, but after so many have lost their lives in this activity, perhaps a rigourous health check should be carried out on the testee before any such test is carried out, to check for any problem not seen in other activities of the troops involved in these tests? Brecon is not the best place to be when feeling rough, but it does help for the trainers to ensure the soldier(s) involved is/are under checks on the route at all times, even though the testees do not see the watchers until they are seen to be suffering. But I do feel that the participant(s) do know the dangers beforehand, they would not be sent on such a test before having the instructors lecturing them on the inherrant dangers of the day. RIP young man, you did your best, that is all that we can ask of you. And you were doing what YOU wanted to do at the time. We can ask no more of any of you.

July 21, 2016

Joined: May 5, 2014
Posts: 562
Brecon Death

July 21, 2016

Having completed the Brecon "tour" (!?!) during my "P" (Parachute) Company training, I know first hand how arduous it can be - in my case it was done in January / February, which posed a different set of problems weather-wise, frostbite & hypothermia were our enemies. However, as rightly pointed out, we were trained to complete the task, but it was then up to each individual to prepare himself in mind & body to enable success. Our Brecon experience was over 2 days, 1 night spent sleeping rough outside high up in the Beacons, surrounded by snow - to save weight we were encouraged not to take a blanket (sleeping bags weren't on issue in those days) but to buy a big plastic bag in which to sleep in ( "no need for tents or blankets then" they said). Naive as I was, I duly complied, not realising that my body heat turned the inside of the plastic bag into pure condensation, meaning not only was I bitterly cold but soaked wet through as well ! Whatever the weather, the Brecon Beacons can be a harsh environment, but also an excellent training ground - there will always be casualties during such training, with most of them fortunately restricted to ankle / blister problems - this young man who died yesterday I can only surmise did so through possible heat exhaustion / dehydration, but more likely, IMO, due to an underlying pre-existing medical problem. He was described as "super fit", therefore no prior medical examination was (rightly) thought necessary - the task ahead should have been within his physical capabilities providing he carried sufficient water with him, hence my feeling his untimely death was caused by other factors. We cannot molly coddle our soldiers during such training - they need to suffer physically & mentally to survive what possibly lies ahead, in other words, be fit to fight. It is very sad that this young man, amongst others,  died during training, but I do believe sufficient safe guards are in place to ensure proper training with a degree of realism can be achieved with minimum casualties . John (JKW)  

July 21, 2016

Joined: May 8, 2014
Posts: 1205
Brecon Death

July 21, 2016

Can anyone remember the report that came out after the Falklands ,after the Atlantic Conveyor was sunk with all the heavy lift Helios and that one only  to move troops so yomping was invented for the media. The regiments that had to chase the Argies across the islands on foot carrying everything on their back ,what 75/85 lbs plus weapon etc ,so we're is he going ,well it found that the super fit ( so called ) carrying no body fat fell by the way we're the guys with a inch or 2 on their waist yomped on . We had the Welsh Guards in our garrison ( Hohne) and the SNCO's explained that fact were durability of the average soldier came to the for . Another story which my wife experienced was the "Great North Run" which she took part in which  3 young men died during the run ,all experienced runners ,all up to scratch for a half marathon . We will have deaths every now and again when the human body is tested ,there's an old saying that " when born there's not a guarantee stamped on your bum " it's sad for the family of the bereaved ,but who said being a soldier etc was a safe occupation .


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