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Spire FM in Oman

Spire FM in Oman

What is the exercise - in laymans terms?

15th October 2018

Saif Sareea 3 (Arabic for swift sword) is the UK's biggest military exercise in 17 years - since Saif Sareea 2 in 2001.

5,500 British troops are in Oman - along with 65,000 Omani counterparts - to train in the harsh desert like conditions.

Oman exercise Saif Sareea October 2018 (ellie harries)

The idea is to get all of the soldiers used to the hot environment - with 40 degree temperatures.

Brigadier Zac Stenning, commander of 1 UK Armoured Infantry Brigade from Bulford, explains.

WHAT ARE THEY DOING WHILST THERE? 

The troops, alongside 18 Challenger Two battle tanks (below) and 61 Warrior armoured vehicles, will be testing themselves in Oman

The exercise will take place in locations across Oman including Shafa, the port of Duqm and Thumrait.

The exercise will culminate in a live fire demonstration in November.

Chinook and Puma helicopters, Typhoon jets, as well as the amphibious assault ship HMS Albion will also be used.

Oman exercise Saif Sareea October 2018 (ellie harries)
The Puma helicopter is used in Oman to transfer troops to and from the camp in emergencies

Here's a taster of what they've been doing, including a battle type practice.

Each part of the exercise will take part during the least hot parts of the day, when the sun is not at its highest (and hottest).

Oman exercise Saif Sareea October 2018 (ellie harries)
Despite the sun setting beautifully in Oman at around 6pm, it's still in the mid thirties temperature wise

The soldiers will be testing their equipment, making sure their vehicles are good to go and making sure they're fit for the terrain.

Brigadier Stenning, say's this is a great excerise to get our troops ready - especially those who have never been on exercise before.

Posted by Ellie Harries at 10:39am

Keeping soldiers fit and ready for action

12th October 2018

Hosting a military exercise to the size and scale of Saif Sareea comes with its risks - and none more so than in health and safety.

But help is at hand in the Omanian desert, in the shape of a Field Hospital, manned by a Hampshire based regiment.

Most of the soldiers on duty there also work for the NHS back in the UK, and there's a strong relationship between the military and civilian healthcare provision.

 

Oman Field Hospital October 2018

 

The team on the ground also work closely with the health service in the Oman itself - which is ranked as one of the best in the world.

The Field Hospital itself can do much of the same emergency treatments that soldiers would have access to back home.

As well as standard triage care, they can do 'life, limb and eyesight saving surgery', supporting patients before they can be handed over to local hospitals or evacuated back to the UK.

That's all the more impressive given the team are working in tents, with limited air conditioning systems in place.

 

Oman Field Hospital October 2018

 

But we can rest assured that there aren't many really serious cases coming through to doors, most of the cases they're seeing are what's described as 'disease non-battle' illnesses and injuries.

Lieutenant Colonel David Wilson from 22 Field Hospital tells us more about their work:

During the training exercise, the medics are doing some special training of their own too.

They're trialling new kit, and reporting back to the NHS in the UK, to see whether it's ready for use on future operations.

We've had a fascinating insight into the work that the team are doing to make sure our troops are safe and healthy during their time in Oman.

And it's a reassurance to know that expert help is at hand if an emergency arises.

Posted by Ellie Harries at 9:44am

Creepy crawlies in Oman

10th October 2018

In the UK, we’re very rarely in contact with any poisonous animals except behind some glass at the zoo.

In Oman, there’s the possibility of seeing one every day.

The hot climate makes it the perfect place for snakes and spiders to live, and there have been some dangerous ones sited far.

If you research Oman spiders, snakes or scorpions – you’ll come up with plenty of articles describing the hundreds of different creepy crawlies you may find in the country. 

Gunner Fraser Gibbon from the 1RHA in Tidworth, say’s he did the research and may have seen a few of the ones he found online too whilst in the desert.

Gunner Fraser Gibbon from the 1RHA in Tidworth talking about the creepy crawlies he's seen

There have been no insect related injuries during the exercise Saif Sareea 3 in Oman so far.

Major Natasha Chatham-Zvelebil is one of the emergency department consultants at the 22 field hospital in Oman and talks through the preparation for the creepy crawlies before they came here.

Major Natasha Chatham-Zvelebil say's they had to prepare for the bugs before they came out to Oman

Let’s hope we don’t see any whilst we’re here – although we have seen this little fella this morning!

Lizard in Oman
This little lizard was seen on a wall in Oman

Posted by Ellie Harries at 1:06pm

Acclimatisation to Oman

9th October 2018

From 10 to 40 degrees, over 800 soldiers in the battle group had to get used to the temperature somehow.

The soldiers have gone from the cold and misty, green Wiltshire to the scorching desert of Oman.

The army have been arriving in Muscat since the middle of September for the biggest joint exercise in over 15 years.

Going for a holiday in this heat, you’re allowed to sit by a pool in little more than a bikini – but over here, the soldiers are dressed in full kit for this huge exercise with the Omani soldiers.

Oman Exercise Salisbury Plain October 2018

HOW DO THEY GET USED TO THE TEMPERATURES?

The soldiers go through a period of acclimatisation to get them in ‘a strong position to live and work there.’

This doesn’t happen overnight and the military do not want to leave anyone in a position where they will not cope.

To prevent this – an 8 day regime was put in place to get each and every soldier fit and ready to go.

WHAT’S THE HEAT REALLY LIKE?

Having spent just a day on base, it’s easy to see why each soldier is giving a pack of 20 bottles of water every day to drink.

You step outside from the air-conditioned cars to what can only be described as walking into 100 hairdryers blowing on you – hot.

Private Mason Boyle, based in Bulford, is a warrior driver for the British Army armoured infantry – he says it’s not something you get used to quickly.

Oman Exercise Salisbury Plain October 2018

These soldiers trying to get as much shade as possible before the sun gets too high

Now they’re getting used to the heat, they’ll be preparing as a battlegroup in armoured vehicles to prepare for the battle scenario later this month.

Posted by Ellie Harries at 9:22am

Why are we in Oman?

8th October 2018

ON Spire FM, we cover stories about the military surrounding us whether that be on Salisbury Plain, in Tidworth, Bulford or even off on exciting trips around the world on exercises.

This time – we’ve been asked to go with them… to Oman.

Oman is an Islamic country that sits next to Saudi Arabia and Yemen, and is one of the UKs allies.

Much of the country is desert like and rarely goes below thirty degrees throughout the day.

Oman trip 2018
As we traveled through the desert, we had some locals asking us what our plans were!

The country has a long relationship with Britain and the Prime Minister stated in 2016 that “Gulf security is our security”.

WHY HAVE SPIRE FM BEEN ASKED TO GO TO OMAN?

Over 5,000 troops are currently in the country, for the largest military exercise in over 17 years.

Saif Sareea 3 involves the army, the navy and the air force as well as the Omani armed forces.

The aim of the exercise is help to develop the host countries military, improve the relationship between the two sides and help to deliver environmental training (getting used to a different climate).

WHAT’S THE PLAN FOR US?

We’re going to be there on the ground to see exactly what the forces are doing in the 40 degree heat.

Oman trip 2018
Once you get outside of the city limits, there's very little to see bar desert

Stepping off the plane, it’s like having a hair dryer constantly on your face.

The cities capital Muscat has aircon in their airport (thankfully) but there’s no preparing for the heat that hits you when you get outside into the busy pick up zone.

Cars have all (thankfully) the mod cons and it’s not long before we’ve cooled down in the back of the transport the army have provided.

Over the next few days, we’ll be seeing what they’re doing to acclimatise to this heat in the daytime as well as what this exercise means for the armed forces and their Omani counterparts.

Posted by Ellie Harries at 4:15pm

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