A Morecambe soldier has been honing his skills on the baked Kenyan savannah as part of Exercise Askari Storm.
The six-week long training package has been bringing together the units comprising 16 Air Assault Brigade, the UK’s airborne Rapid Reaction Force.
Private Mathew Haigh, 22, a former Morecambe Community High School pupil, is a clerk attached to the forward HQ of the 3rd Battalion, The Parachute Regiment (3 PARA).
Pte Mathew Haigh said: “I’ve been helping run the communications for the whole Battlegroup, including casualties and all the information management, working with the helicopters to get them out.
“This really gets your mind working and you learn new skills that you can take away and adapt elsewhere. It’s all about rapid thinking – you get things come through on the radio at the last minute and you’ve got to make a decision there and then, you don’t have time to change your mind.”
Working in the face of hostile terrain, extreme heat, flash-floods and violent thunderstorms, and confronted by a range of potentially deadly animals, from lions and leopards to scorpions and black mambas, the troops have been taken way out of their comfort zone.
This is Mathew’s second time in Kenya with the Army and he says previous exposure to the harshness of the surroundings have stood him in good stead.
He said: “I’ve found it a lot easier here this time, because I knew what to expect so I could prepare myself a lot better in terms of the heat and the ground”. And, he says it’s not all graft for the troops.
“I’ve seen some giraffes and elephants – and spiders! Seeing the wildlife out here has been a real highlight. People pay thousands of pounds to come to Africa and go on safari, and we come here, work here, and have it for free.”