Exercise Cambrian Patrol: testing the best from around the world

Exercise Cambrian Patrol is an annual test of soldiers’ military skills. It is seen by many as the most challenging event of its kind that there is.

Taking place over some of the harshest yet most picturesque terrain in Mid Wales, Exercise Cambrian Patrol is a unique event and the largest of its kind anywhere in the world. It is rightly regarded as the premier patrolling exercise in NATO.

It is mentally and physically demanding and examines all the basic skills of a modern-day soldier, enhancing leadership skills and levels of endurance and determination. On average only five per cent of patrols gain the top Gold award while about a third fail to finish.

Defence Minister Mark Lancaster said:

Exercise Cambrian Patrol is the premier examination of patrolling abilities in NATO. It is arduous and testing and regarded as the proving ground for Armed Forces from all around the world.

With so many allies coming together, this is a further opportunity to strengthen bonds and comradeship, paving the way for a safer future for us all.

This year over 1000 British troops took part as well as soldiers from 28 different countries, including five overseas armies taking part for the first time, with soldiers from Armenia, Uzbekistan, United Arab Emirates, the Philippines and Moldova.

Brigadier Alan Richmond OBE, Commander 160th Infantry Brigade and Headquarters and head of the Army in Wales, is the Exercise Director. He said:

Exercise Cambrian Patrol is becoming more popular every year and this year we’ve had more international patrols take part than ever before.

That means people really understand the value of this as an exercise. It’s also a great opportunity for us in the British Army to work alongside a lot of our international partners and develop our solid relationships. This year has been a great success.

Exercise Cambrian Patrol began in 1959, when a group of Welsh Territorial Army soldiers designed a weekend training event, featuring long-distance marching over the Cambrian mountains and culminating in a shooting match on the Sennybridge Training Area.

1st Lieutenant Pavel Popovici of the Moldovian Army. Crown copyright

One of those on the patrol for the first time was First Lieutenant Pavel Popovici of the Moldovian Army, he said:

We are representing our country for the first time and it is important to do well. We have had a lot of help from our friends 2nd Battalion The Royal Irish Regiment, and we are very thankful for it.

Each squad is assessed against a common standard and is not competing directly against each other. Of the 127 patrols that entered: 9 received a gold medal, 33 a silver, 11 a bronze, 15 a certificate and 59 did not finish.