The Royal Monmouthshire Royal Engineers (Militia) deployed to Belize in order to attend Exercise MAYAN STAR 22. The primary aim of the exercise was to provide an opportunity to develop trade KSE and test the Sub-Units planning and execution skills. The deployment was made up of 35 reservists from the unit and 4 Full Time Reserve Service members in support.
The Defense Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) in British Army Training Support Unit Belize (BATSUB) had prepared two construction tasks with a primary emphasis on resecuring a 200ft section of camp fence that had gone into disrepair. The secondary task was the construction of a new social area and shelter for the recently opened all-ranks Mess.
The environment in Belize caused several difficulties for the planning teams and construction force. Primarily, the main risk to the construction force was from heat illness in the sweltering heats and 100% humidity. With the emphasis on safety, Section Commanders had the challenge of balancing time on task with rest in shade and ultimately this resulted in the fencing task requiring more resources and Sappers; a demanding environment resulted in a requirement to dynamically re-calculate the time to complete tasks and applied pressure to the project managers who revisited GANT charts to ensure troops remained safe whilst tasks were completed within the specified time, cost and quality parameters.
The construction tasks presented the opportunity for skills development within unconventional areas, such as security fence erection and first fix construction in demanding environments. Most of the deployed workforce had limited construction experience therefore the deployment provided an essential opportunity to close the skills gap. Ultimately, this enabled the Regiment’s newest Sappers to return to the UK with new skills that could be utilised and adapted to a plethora of scenarios.
Many of the troop had never visited a Central American country before and so experiencing the local culture and simply being exposed to a very different style of living was a necessary and key development opportunity for all those deployed. Sappers had a weekend of stand-down on the island of Caye Caulker which coincided with the Belizean lobster festival. The islands were busy with locals celebrating the new season of lobster catching and the weekend was enjoyed by all.
Belize offers an incredible and unique environment for Sappers to enjoy and develop themselves on Adventurous Training (AT). The troop experienced a day exploring the vast cave systems of Belize with rock pool jumps and a candlelight lunch! The caves also provided an opportunity to see some of the jungle of Belize and gain insights from local guides about the flora and fauna within the vast landscape. The troop also enjoyed a day at Caye Caulker on a sail safari, exploring the infamous shark ray alley and snorkeling with green sea turtles, reef sharks and sting rays, to name a few.