A SOLDIER from Risca has taken on one of the most gruelling tests of military skill in the world.

Private Jonathan Hughes, 19, was a part of a team from the 2nd Battalion The Royal Welsh tackling Exercise Cambrian Patrol.

The two-day test takes place across the Black Mountains, with the physical and mental demands making it one of the highlights of the British Army's training calendar.

After thorough kit inspections teams are taken to drop-off points around the mountains and given a set of orders to follow.

Split into seven phases, the teams then have to 55km carrying full personal kit and equipment, weighing in at some 60lbs, navigating by both night and day.

Specialist challenges within the patrol include observation and reconnaissance of enemy forces, cold river crossings in full kit without access to boats, first-aid and defensive shooting under attack, followed by a debriefing session.

Military skills, stamina and dedication are constantly evaluated during the patrol and marked with a system of points. Teams that successfully complete their patrol are awarded a gold, silver or bronze medal or certificate of merit, depending on the total number of points they have gained.

Jonathan, a former Newbridge Comprehensive School pupil, joined the Army three years ago and was taking part in his first Cambrian.

He, said: "It's a big test because it's the mix of military skills and fitness that are going to get you through.

"The main thing is to make sure all the guys finish the patrol. Some of the stands (where the soldiers get tested on scenarios such as casualty evacuations after an attack by the enemy) are tougher than others and youÕve got to concentrate all the time.

"That's harder when you've not had much sleep but that's what this is all about.

"Just to complete the patrol is a big achievement."