Striving to be best

Lance Corporal Kate Downie-Melrose, a Dunedin-based insurance industry manager, races between two...
Lance Corporal Kate Downie-Melrose, a Dunedin-based insurance industry manager, races between two of the examination stages on the hills behind the Tapanui Agricultural Centre, during a top soldier selection training day held by Bravo Company 2/4 RNZIR.PHOTO: JOHN COSGROVE
Learning what makes one a top soldier was the task NZ Army reserve Force soldiers from Dunedin and Invercargill undertook at a training day held at Tapanui over the weekend.

The soldiers from Bravo Company 2/4 Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment (2/4 RNZIR) had put their names forward for selection to be part of the battalion's skill at arms team to compete in a NZ Army brigade-wide competition next year.

To gain selection, the soldiers had to endure a long day of running with and without fully-loaded packs, weapons and webbing, as they raced against the clock over 12 examination stages located all over the Tapanui Agricultural Centre.

These examination stages covered a wide range of soldering skills and fieldcraft, in which the soldiers demonstrated their abilities to handle safely the various weapons they might use, from their personal MARS-L 5.56mm rifle to the Glock 9mm pistol, M72 and M203 grenade launchers, light machine-guns, grenades, battlefield first aid, map reading skills, observational skills, prisoner handling skills and the odd brain stretching tasks, such as making a cross.

The day's punishing schedule racing against the clock was designed to test the young soldiers both physically and mentally.

For many it was their first experience of the range of skills and fitness needed to compete at the higher brigade level competitions against units from all over New Zealand and the Regular Force soldiers.

Lance Corporal Kate Downie-Melrose, a Dunedin-based insurance industry manager, said overall it was great fun.

"The day had a lot of running which was fun, and it tested our abilities with the many skills we would need to prove at the national brigade level competition," she said.

Private Marcus Keenan, an IT worker from Dunedin said that while the running with packs, webbing and his rifle was hard work, it was good to get out into the field and dust off the cobwebs on soldiering skills he had not used in a long time.

 - John Cosgrove

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