Island soldiers today jetted off for a tough two week overseas exercise at a United States Marine Corps base.

About 140 Royal Bermuda Regiment soldiers will be joined by 10 Marines from the new Turks & Caicos Islands Regiment, who have already undergone a week’s training at Warwick Camp, for the trip to Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.

RBR Major Preston Gill, who helped organise the exercise, said Bermuda’s soldiers would be able to get experience that could not be provided on the island.

He added: “There will be a huge amount of training in a very short space of time and it will be very worthwhile.

“It’s going to be hard work, but it will pay off. British Army trainers will also help out – these are opportunities that don’t present themselves to Bermuda’s young people very often.”

It is the first full-scale overseas trip by the island’s soldiers since 2019.

Maj. Gill said that the trip would test infantry skills in the field, including in special ‘villages’ designed to hone skills in urban operations and on hi-tech firing ranges, at greater distances than could be arranged in Bermuda.

Soldiers will also refine their skills in the humanitarian and disaster relief role.

Maj. Gill added that soldiers from the Royal Bermuda Regiment Coast Guard would work with the US Coast Guard to qualify as coxswains, medics would train with their US Navy counterparts and RBR Band & Corps of Drums personnel would perform alongside US Marine musicians.

The ten troops from Turks & Caicos, in Bermuda as part of their Junior Non-Commissioned Officers Cadre course, will further hone their skills in North Carolina.

Maj. Gill said: “It’s an opportunity to travel, visit a huge US Marines base, work with the British Army and the Marines and also to pass on our expertise to the Turks & Caicos Islands Regiment.”

He added: “Our soldiers have worked very hard to get to this point.

“This is training that will enhance our ability to provide a range of services to the highest level to the civil power in Bermuda in the most cost-efficient way possible.

Captain Francis Glinton of the TCIR said his troops were looking forward to the exercise after an intensive week training with RBR instructors.

The 37-year-old full time soldier added: “It’s been a tremendous change in the way they see themselves. It’s the first time they have had weapons training and they’ve shaped up pretty well.

“We’ve enjoyed working with the RBR – they’re very professional, patient and they’ve shared their knowledge and skills with my team and we’re very grateful.”

Marine Ricascio Fritz, 24, a hotel worker in civilian life, said: “I’ve enjoyed the shooting most. The RBR is nice and organised and I’m looking forward to Camp Lejeune.”

He added: “I’ve learnt discipline. It’s about getting up in the morning, being on time and focusing on teamwork.”

Marine Bronique Morris, 29, said she had also enjoyed weapons training, but admitted she had struggled with aspects of fitness.

But the hotel employee added: “It’s been great experience. Firing a weapon and the discipline of breaking it down and putting it back together again has been great.”

Marine Witchy Deliscar, 19, an electrical engineering student, said: “The instructors have been very friendly, very interactive. They’ve been teaching knowledge at a very high level.”

RBR Colour Sergeant Tatem Ford said: “They’ve performed very well – they’re keen, they retain the information and apply it appropriately. They will make good NCOs.”

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