November 2013

UCB help Army secret mission

Read time: approx 1 mins

University College Birmingham helped two soldiers create secret identities and evade a “hunter force” during a training operation in Birmingham.

Two members of 4th battalion The Rifles got a dramatic Mrs Doubtfire-style make-over, complete with make-up and wigs, with the help of UCB students as part of Operation Frugal Bugle.

The quick-thinking sharpshooters scored extra points by successfully completing a number of unconventional Army challenges – including getting their legs waxed and having a manicure.

Riflemen Jordan Bryce and Chris Edwards, both aged 23, based at Bulford Camp in Wiltshire, arrived unexpectedly at UCB armed with a list of tasks to tackle before heading back to a central meeting point in London. 

Bryce and Edwards, whose battalion returned from a six-month tour of Helmand Province, Afghanistan in October, were one of several two-man teams dropped off across the West Midlands as part of the training exercise. The mission involved getting to a London rendezvous undetected by a rival Army unit following the completion of imaginative challenges. The operation was designed to test the riflemen’s ability to think on their feet, problem-solve and communicate – all the qualities their regiment strives to develop. 

UCB was thrilled to help the soldiers accomplish as many of their assignments as possible. First on the list was the creation of a disguise. With the help of Theatrical and Media Make-Up students, the riflemen were barely recognisable in wigs, glasses and a full face of make-up.  

The soldiers spent the rest of the day winning extra points getting their legs waxed (20 points per leg), having a manicure (10 points), attending a lecture (20) and taking part in a UCB sporting event (20). 

The last task on the list was to find somewhere to rest their heads. No points were awarded for “sleeping rough” so the hunt was on to find a hotel willing to put the soldiers up for the night, free of charge. The Ibis, just a stone’s throw from UCB, kindly stepped into the fray.

In the morning, Bryce and Edwards secured a lift to London courtesy of a UCB employee who was driving to the capital and made their way to their meeting point to finish the mission.

We were delighted to help the two soldiers. University College Birmingham has a tremendous reputation for our work in theatrical and media make-up so our students weren’t daunted by the task of helping two burly soldiers adopt convincing disguises. The Rifles encourages troops to be quick-thinking and imaginative problem-solvers and these attributes lie close to the heart of our teaching at UCB.

Prof Ray Linforth, UCB Vice Chancellor and Principal

Back to top