If there is anything tougher than the Commandos course of the Indian Army, it is the British Army’s Cambrian Patrol.
The Cambrian Patrol, the world’s toughest test of infantry skills, is also known as the “Olympics of Patrolling”. It is an annual military patrolling exercise, which seeks participants from as many as 100 foreign armies, in which the participants needs to patrol 80 km of unforgiving forests and marshlands in 48 hours with a 30-kilo backpack on each participant’s shoulders.
The exercise takes place in the rugged terrain of Cambrain Mountains in the Welsh countryside in UK. The exercise was started by Welsh General, Lewis Pugh DSO in 1960. The exercise begins at Tonfanau on the west coast of Wales and crosses over the cold, marshy swamps of the Cambrian mountains.
Teams, each consisting of eight men, are tested on their leadership skills, self-discipline, courage, physical endurance and determination. Over the next 48 hours, the host, the British Army, judges the participants on how the team navigates across the marshy terrain, and deals with battlefield situations thrown at them, including enemy minefields, giving first aid to their casualties, bringing down artillery fire, and attacking an enemy bunker. It also includes swimming in the cold and spine-shivering Cambrian river in full military attire, with a 30-kilo backpack while keeping the rifle dry. Finally, the judges ask the teams to reconnoiter an enemy position and bring back information just like a patrol in battle.
It begins after the teams arrive at the starting point and after having checked their equipment and gear. Any missing equipment is replaced by dead weight and points are deducted. From there, the leaders of the teams are taken in for orders while other team members begin their battle preparation.
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— The Army in Wales (@Army_Wales) October 21, 2016
The chief organizer of the patrol in 2014, Brigadier Martyn Gamble, said,
About a third of teams failed to finish and is again a testament to how much of a challenge this is. I’m entirely comfortable that only about four per cent of all teams achieved gold. Those people who have achieved a finish or a medal should be applauded.
With only 4% chances of winning, the Indian Army has successfully clinched several medals in the toughest exercise in the world. In 2015, the 3/4 Gorkha Rifles settled for a silver, while in 2014 and 2016, 8 Garhwal and 2/8 Gorkha brought back prestigious Gold medals.
The Indian Army carefully selects the team that it sends for Cambrian Patrol. There are several competitions at unit and formation levels to identify the best team. Then, the best of the lot is sent to Infantry School at Mhow for further training and to Lansdowne for acclimatization to defeat others in the cold mountainous terrain in Wales.