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1 Rifles in Kenya: Tough training in 35C heat

By Gloucestershire Echo  |  Posted: October 16, 2012

protected and hydrated:  Cpl Roger Sainsbury.

protected and hydrated: Cpl Roger Sainsbury.

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IN the arid and hot bushlands of Kenya, members of the armed forces battle the heat and dust as part of their training.

Gloucestershire's 1Rifles, based at Beachley Barracks, makes up around 550 members of a battle group taking part in exercises.

The British Army has training units set up on land between Nairobi and the Somalian border. And there they hone fighting skills in a tough and isolated environment.

The exercises included defending ground, attacking the enemy and practising live firing – all in 35C.

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Corporal Roger Sainsbury, of Cheltenham, said the training was helpful to those who had not experienced combat in warm countries.

The 35-year-old, from Battledown, said: "The dry and warm weather made it fantastic training.

"This really was worst case scenario training to get us prepared for anything, so it really was testing.

"The training for those who had not been on an operational tour was a massive shock. I think we all suffered the first time we were placed in such a difficult environment.

"But we were all learning about managing the heat and ourselves by making sure we were protected and hydrated."

The Tactical Engagement Simulation kit the soldiers and civilians donned told them if they had been or were close to being hit.

Unlike many of the soldiers, who were experiencing life outside of Europe for the first time, Cpl Sainsbury was no stranger to Africa.

The Judo player, who won a bronze medal in the 2006 Commonwealth Games, originated from Cape Town. He moved to Cheltenham to play rugby for the town's colts in 1995 before enlisting in 2000.

He said: "I always knew I wanted to be a soldier and my experiences in the forces, meant I wouldn't want to do anything else other than be in the army. The British Army had been fantastic to me and very supportive of my sporting career. I would like to think I have rewarded them with my results as well. Kenya has some similarities to northern South Africa, but they are quite different."

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