A RECORD number of international teams have entered this year’s Exercise Cambrian Patrol, which starts later this week.

Exercise Cambrian Patrol is the British Army’s premier patrolling event, an annual international military exercise that involves participating units covering a 40-mile course in less than 48 hours while performing numerous military manoeuvres and patrols in the Cambrian Mountains and swamp lands of Mid Wales.

This year’s patrol will take place from Friday, October 6, to Sunday, October 15, and is being hosted and organised by 160th (Welsh) Brigade, based in Brecon, the British Army’s headquarters in Wales.


The exercise is mentally and physically demanding and tests all the basic military skills of a modern-day soldier, enhancing leadership ability and levels of endurance and determination.

It has been held annually since 1959 and is respected by military partners around the world as NATO’s toughest patrolling test.

This year, 111 teams have entered, including: 42 Regular; 15 Reserve; 16 University Officer Training Corps and a record number of international patrols, with 32 nations included.

Countries taking part include: Albania, Armenia, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Ireland, India, Italy, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kosovo, Latvia, Mexico, Nepal, the Netherlands, New Zealand, North Macedonia, Pakistan, the Philippines, Poland, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Spain, the USA and Uzbekistan.

The exercise is unique, world-class and the largest of its kind, with some foreign entrants having to claim the right to take part in the UK by winning through their own domestic competition.

For example, the Australian Army runs an infantry skills competition called the Duke of Gloucester Cup. Their winning unit then gets to represent the country at Exercise Cambrian Patrol.

Exercise Cambrian Patrol is now very different to how it started in 1959, when a group of Welsh Territorial Army soldiers designed a weekend training event featuring long distance marching over the Cambrian Mountains, culminating in a shooting match at the Sennybridge Training Area.

Now, the event has been adapted, with more of an operational mindset. Teams are made up of eight soldiers and given a set of orders based on a specific scenario involving enemy forces.

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They must battle prep and map out a designated route, along which they must navigate through, day and night, and deal with a set of stands: these include casualty evacuation scenarios, dealing with mock improvised explosive device finds, intelligence gathering, seeking protective measures against chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats, a water crossing, close-target reconnaissance and others.

The two-day patrolling mission is a mind-and-muscle-sapping 40 miles, carrying full personal kit and equipment. At the completion of the exercise each patrol faces a comprehensive debriefing session.

Depending on how they have dealt with all those challenges they are awarded points, for which they will either gain the top gold medal, a silver, bronze or certificate finish. A patrol can complete with five soldiers, taking into account any injuries or other issues which depletes the team, but they can only be awarded a certificate in that instance.

On average, only five per cent of patrols gain the top award while about a third fail to finish, indicating just how arduous Exercise Cambrian Patrol is.

Split into eight phases, Reserve and University Officer Training Corps patrols will set off on Phases 1 and 8, with Regular and international patrols setting of on Phases 2 to 7.