The Cambrian Patrol Selection Trials (CPST) are one of the most prestigious professional competitions held in the Indian Army. It is held to select one team to represent the Indian Army at the exclusive patrolling exercise conducted by the British Army annually at Sennybridge Training Area (SENTA) of Wales, in Brecon, United Kingdom. Cambrian Patrol is a true reflection of professionalism of one’s Army and is designed to provide a challenging situation to develop operational capabilities and test the professional acumen of a small team.
During the Express' recent visit to the facilities of the Commando Wing (CW) in Belgaum, patrols participating in the CPST were seen returning after completing their reconnaissance missions. For the soldiers and their unit, getting selected to represent the nation on an international platform is a matter of great pride and honour.
The CPST is held at CW every year and the best teams from Indian Army are selected after trials at various levels to represent their Commands. “The exercise is set as a mission oriented tactical patrol in semi mountainous terrain. It focuses on evaluating patrols for their leadership, team work, physical fitness, patrolling, basic military skills, casualty evacuation, handling of prisoners of war, CBRN warfare (Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear) and fighting in built up area,” says Major Amol Kalel, Instructor, CW.
“The teams are assessed for knowledge of weapon, equipment held with NATO/WARSAW nations, CBRN, weapon handling and field craft and battle craft. Each team comprises of one officer, one junior commissioned officer or one non-commissioned officer and eight other ranks. Teams generally prepare for close to five months and are highly motivated, skillful, intelligent and possess great mental as well as physical robustness,” says Major Amol.
The trials are conducted over a period of 12 days in three phases. The initial phase consists of preparation and acclimatisation, second phase assesses preparatory drills before the reconnaissance and surveillance exercise and third phase is the exercise itself. Two teams are selected to represent the country. In the initial phase, the teams arrive at CW five days prior to commencement and acclimatise, as many report from Kashmir, high altitude areas of Sikkim and far flung regions of North East India. “In assessment for their preparation each individual is tested for his ability to swim 50 meters in combat fatigues with shoes. In this phase teams’ equipment is checked for their serviceability and correctness,” he said.
In the final phase, a mix of conventional and sub conventional tactical scenario is depicted. “Tasks such as infiltrating into enemy territory, linking up with friendly agents to gain information of targets, carrying out close reconnaissance of target and preparation of reconnaissance reports are done by the participants. Teams are also required to undertake crossing of a water obstacle approximately 100 meters wide enroute with combat load under simulated combat conditions,” says Major Amol.
This entire exercise is conducted over a period of 72 hours covering a distance of more than 60 kms of arduous terrain. The entire exercise is set in a manner so as to progress from one drill to another in a sequence. At no point of time there is any logistic pause in the exercise and it is ensured that teams are on the move for the complete duration. Teams are assessed for various drills as they navigate from check point to check point.