Reservists take on the Crowborough Challenge 2018

On a sunny June weekend, 110 Reservists from across the southern region’s Royal Naval Reserve (RNR) Units gathered at Crowborough camp in expectation of what would prove to be a highly memorable Command, Leadership and Management training weekend.

HMS President, based in London, has traditionally taken the lead role in running Exercise “Crowborough Challenge”, and this year Lieutenant Rob Lisle, a recent transfer from the submarine service, took over the reins, ably supported by the Unit’s vastly experienced Command Warrant Officer Tony Matthews QVRM.

Located in a Sussex forest, each of the tough training stances was specifically devised to give Reservists and junior leaders an opportunity to improve their leadership ability, in line with the Royal Navy's core management skills.

Among the physical challenges, the Reserve Diving Branch gave teams a taste of underwater working skills and the difficulties divers face in carrying out their roles.

Participants were blindfolded, then tasked to swim out to a buoy to identify objects in the water, relying solely on the verbal communication skills of their teammates to get them there.

Crowborough Challenge is a great opportunity to enhance leadership skills, giving all southern region units a unique opportunity to train together and build on their ship’s companies’ core skills.

Captain Mel Robinson

The Media Operations Specialisation (MOS) task took participants out of their comfort zone via mock interviews on camera, media skills being essential to those serving in every operational environment.

Other challenges included a Key Leadership Engagement task run by the Information Operations specialisation, a medical exercise, and a crash course by the Royal Marines Reserve in how to run an operational observation post, which included practical lessons in field craft and tactical surveillance.

The Maritime Reservists camped overnight in field conditions, before carrying out a navigation exercise the following day.

Having recently joined HMS President and taking part in his first Crowborough Challenge, Ahmed Shaibu said: "Today we’ve been working a lot and there’s been a lot of group tasks and leadership. It’s been really good. I’ve really enjoyed it."

Crowborough Challenge 2018 ensured that members of the Maritime Reserves had the chance to build on their all-round military skillset, which is required in order to provide suitably trained officers and ratings to augment the Fleet.

It also boosted their self-confidence and gave them valuable experience in teamwork, problem-solving and communication, transferable skills which will benefit them in their civilian jobs.

Deputy Chief of Staff (DCOS) Reserves, Captain Mel Robinson RN, attending the event, said: "Crowborough Challenge is a great opportunity to enhance leadership skills, giving all southern region units a unique opportunity to train together and build on their ship’s companies’ core skills."