The Photography of Mike O'Neill ABIPP

Facing Fire Behind the Shield Wall

I was fortunate enough to be invited over to North Yorkshire to cover The 3rd Battalion The Rifles Regiment (3 RIFLES) whilst they were training.  My role was to film the occasion but I could not resist the chance for photographs too.  Enjoy…

3 RIFLES were being put through their paces recently during a spot of Public Order Training at Whinney Hill village in Catterick.  The 3rd Battalion is training in all aspects of Light Role Infantry Warfare as part of 11 Light Brigade and is routinely the spearhead Battalion, tasked to deploy at short notice to trouble spots around the world such as a recent deployment to the Lebanon.

The training they received was as close as possible to the real thing whilst maintaining rigorous health and safety standards.  The Civilian Population (CivPop) was being played also by soldiers of 3 RIFLES and they pulled no punches to their own, helping to maintain the highest possible standards.

During the training the servicemen and women of 3 RIFLES rotated through stands manned by soldiers of The 1st Battalion The Royal Irish Regiment who are attached to 38 (Irish) Brigade.  These men are subject matter experts when it comes to Public Order, having saw the real thing during the troubles in Northern Ireland, this experience is now passed on to a new generation.

On the stands, the soldiers are run through drills again and again to make sure everyone knows the commands and that they know exactly where to run, stand and when to hold ground.

Once the training was completed the soldiers then carried out a Petrol Bomb Initiation.  He soldiers advanced in fours and faced not one but two petrol bombs which were thrown at their feet.  They had to then carry out the correct drills to put the flames out under control.  This ensured that all soldiers will have experienced petrol bombing and will not panic in a real time situation.

Training completed, the soldiers were then put through a test exercise in realistic situations and settings.  This involved the CivPop who got right into their roles and certainly enjoyed what they were there to do.  Soldiers facing off against soldiers, it is inevitable that some can and do get injured.  A soldier was pulled from the shield wall after taking a thrown rubber bullet to the throat.  Medics were on stand by and were quick to get involved, with the soldier removed, the exercise resumed swiftly.

By the end of the exercise the soldiers of 3 RIFLES were sweat drenched and as ‘Endex’ was called, helmets came off and the chatter amongst them was excitable.  One thing was evident, the soldiers enjoyed it too.

It was a cracking few days in rare North Yorkshire sunshine.  I got some great images.  I had some good times.  I hope you have enjoyed this post. There is yet quite a bit of video to get through… Stay tuned…

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