New recruits put through the wringer by visiting British soldiers

British army personnel who are stationed in the region during the Atlantic hurricane season took part in this year's Independence celebrations. (Photos by Johnny Jno-Baptiste)
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By Robert A Emmanuel

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Novice soldiers at Antigua and Barbuda Defence Force (ABDF) were tested to their limits this week as a visiting team of British Army Commandos shared their skills and knowledge at the ABDF’s training ground in Crabb’s Peninsula.

The crew was deployed with the Royal Navy ship HMS Medway for the Atlantic Hurricane Season and have been in Antigua since October 20.

Observer media spoke to some of the recruits who shared their personal experiences during the training exercise.

“The training has been lovely for the last few days, pushing your body to the limits … I have learnt a lot of new things,” said former All Saints Secondary student, Recruit Michael Marcelin who added that his dream was to become a pilot.

“At a young age, I have always wanted [to join the Coast Guard. My family has a background in law enforcement, and I have always wanted to follow,” he added.

Meanwhile, one of the few female recruit in the group, Yanicka Joseph, stated that “as a female joining the Army to get more military experience, to better myself and my child, I [see] this as a stepping stone to further my career.

While encouraging other women to join the ABDF, she added: “When I came up here [the Defence Force’s training ground], I [did] not know how to do a push-up. I can actually do [many] push-ups now; what we see as punishment, they are actually trying to build us up. Do not doubt yourself; if man can do it, we can do it as females, keep strong,” she advised young females who may be interested in becoming members of the typically male-dominated field.

Observer media also spoke to Captain Seb Cooke from the visiting team about the training.

“They have just come out of their drill and theory phase … learning about basic field craft. So, we are here to help them put that into practice,” he said, adding that more practical drills will be given to the recruits.

The visiting crew also helped to replace a roof at the Care Project building located at the former Holberton Hospital compound, and participated in the Ceremonial Parade during the twin island’s 41st anniversary of Independence celebrations on November 1st.

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