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28 mars 2014 5 28 /03 /mars /2014 11:50
Reservists of Royal Wessex Yeomanry train with Challenger 2 and Chinook

28 mars 2014 British Army

 

Reserve soldiers of the Royal Wessex Yeomanry recently trained with Challenger 2 main battle tanks and RAF Chinook helicopters on Salisbury Plain for Exercise Spring Warrior.

For the first time in more than a decade the unit teamed up with the RAF. Their joint mission with air crew from 27 Squadron RAF Odiham was co-ordinate the delivery by air of personnel and their Wolf Scout Land Rovers.

Driver Trooper Marcus Cribb talks about his role as a Reservist working with Challenger 2 and how being a Reservist fits in with his civilian life.

Find out more: http://www.army.mod.uk/news/26133.aspx

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25 mars 2014 2 25 /03 /mars /2014 12:50
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25 mars 2014 2 25 /03 /mars /2014 08:35
T-Hawk Remotely Piloted Air System in Afghanistan

A soldier watches as a Tarantula Hawk (T-Hawk) Micro Remote Piloted Air System (RPAS) hovers over the desert in Afghanistan.

 

Photographer: Captain Dave Scammell

 

The Tarantula-Hawk takes off vertically and hovers to get a clear view of the ground ahead of troops.

It is used by the British Army in Afghanistan, clearing routes without risking human life and checking for roadside bombs.

Talisman is the army unit using T-Hawk. It is a counter-IED task force and uses specialist equipment, including this drone, to clear routes for large convoys.

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24 mars 2014 1 24 /03 /mars /2014 13:50
MOD identifies 10 First World War soldiers

 

22 March 2014 Ministry of Defence

 

Ten soldiers killed during the First World War who were found in France during 2009 have now been identified.

 

Defence Minister Lord Astor has announced that the remains of the 10 soldiers, found during construction work near the French village of Beaucamps-Ligny, have been formally identified after their surviving relatives provided DNA samples.

All those identified served with 2nd Battalion The York and Lancaster Regiment and were killed in battle on 18 October 1914. The discovery will now allow the surviving relatives of the soldiers, who were informed this week, to see their forefathers laid to rest 100 years on from the outbreak of the war.

Lord Astor said:

Our thoughts remain with all those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of our country. Although these soldiers fell almost a century ago, the Ministry of Defence still takes its responsibility extremely seriously to identify any remains found, trace and inform surviving relatives, and to provide a fitting and dignified funeral so they rest in peace.

 
The headstone of an unknown soldier in a Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery (library image) [Picture: Sergeant Jez Doak RAF, Crown copyright]

The soldiers will now be reburied with full military honours at a Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery in October. The ceremony will be organised by 4th Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment which can trace its history back to the York and Lancaster Regiment. Work to identify a further 5 sets of remains found at the same time is continuing.

Commodore Ian Bisson, from the Ministry of Defence’s Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre, which identified the soldiers, said:

This has been a difficult but very successful piece of work for the Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre team and we have identified far more of the fallen than we first hoped. We can still identify some of the remaining 5 sets of remains and would appeal to those who think they may be family members to get in touch with us.

2014 marks 100 years since the start of the First World War. The Ministry of Defence is part of a cross-government effort, led by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, to build a commemoration fitting of this significant milestone in world history. Find out more: First World War Centenary.
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24 mars 2014 1 24 /03 /mars /2014 13:20
Extreme weather tests exercising troops in Canada

Soldiers from 69 Gurkha Field Squadron on exercise in Canada [Picture: Crown copyright]

 

21 March 2014 Defence Infrastructure Organisation

 

British soldiers have been working in temperatures of -20°C to improve facilities on the Canadian training estate.

 

Exercise Warpaint runs until 4 April and is the 2-month annual deployment of an engineer regiment whose task is to conduct maintenance and construction work across the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) Canada estate in Suffield, near Calgary.

Alongside the ongoing annual winter repair programme, the exercise offers the 130 soldiers from 69 Gurkha Field Squadron, 36 Engineer Regiment, the opportunity to sharpen their maintenance and construction skills.

They also get the opportunity to challenge themselves in adverse and extreme weather conditions, hone their combat engineering skills, and foster Canadian-Anglo relationships.

Major tasks include maintenance and construction of bridges, car parks and fencing, and refurbishment of training villages. This helps accommodate additional personnel and improve buildings on the 2,500-square-kilometre training area.

Soldiers from 69 Gurkha Field Squadron on exercise in Canada
Soldiers from 69 Gurkha Field Squadron on exercise in Canada [Picture: Crown copyright]

Lieutenant Colonel Ed Robinson, commanding officer of 36 Engineer Regiment and the Queen’s Gurkha Engineers, said:

For a second year running 36 Engineer Regiment has delivered Exercise Warpaint. Following on from the great success in 2013, few appreciated how very challenging the climatic conditions in Canada could be earlier in the year. Little could have prepared 69 Gurkha Field Squadron for the challenges faced on Exercise Warpaint 14.

I’m extremely proud of how the squadron has adapted to the environment and remained cheerful throughout. They have added significantly to work undertaken to develop the training estate in 2013.

My Gurkha and British soldiers have thoroughly enjoyed this training experience, practising their artisan trade skills, relearning the importance of looking out for each other, and delivering a tangible output for DIO. It has been an outstanding training opportunity; I hope there will be many more.

He added that the exercise was also the squadron’s first exposure to working with a section of soldiers from 75 Engineer Regiment (Reserve), and had been an enriching experience for all.

Soldiers from 69 Gurkha Field Squadron on exercise in Canada
Soldiers from 69 Gurkha Field Squadron on exercise in Canada [Picture: Crown copyright]

Lieutenant Colonel Nick Sealy-Thompson, Commander DIO Canada, said:

DIO’s priority is to support our armed forces as they prepare for operations. The work that the soldiers carry out on the Canadian training area helps us get ready for a very busy exercise season.

Exercise Warpaint also offers the soldiers from 69 Gurkha Field Squadron the opportunity to practise and sharpen their skills in some really testing weather conditions which helps prepare them for future worldwide operations.

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17 mars 2014 1 17 /03 /mars /2014 17:35
Afghanistan experience

A soldier provides covering fire as his colleagues in the Brigade Reconnaissance Force cross open ground (library image) [Picture: Sergeant Rupert Frere, Crown copyright]

 

17 March 2014 Ministry of Defence

 

Operational lessons learnt in Afghanistan have made the British Army a more effective fighting force.

 

The British Army has always learnt from experience, as the dramatic changes in uniforms and equipment over the years show. Even the Force that will return from Afghanistan at the end of 2014 looks and operates differently to the one that first deployed to the country in 2001.

And all of this is due to the service’s ability to absorb knowledge gained on the battlefield and adapt its methods accordingly.

The process, which is co-ordinated by Warminster’s Lessons Exploitation Centre, draws on feedback from all ranks, from the private soldier right up to the most senior staff.

Among those tasked with capturing the information is Lieutenant Colonel David Steel of the Royal Regiment of Scotland, who said that recording ideas and observations from those who have recently served was vital to improving operational effectiveness:

A successful ‘lessons learnt’ process should enhance our tactics and procedures, reduce casualties, mould our training so troops are better prepared, and lead to the development of better kit.

The system ensures the Army remembers and acts on what it learnt during the last fighting system, from every training event and every incident. It is vital that personnel at all levels contribute and we’ve worked hard to make sure it’s as easy as possible for people to do so.

Soldier with a Black Hornet nano unmanned aerial system

Operational requirements in Afghanistan have driven forward the development of unmanned aerial systems (library image) [Picture: Sergeant Rupert Frere, Crown copyright]

Servicemen and women give their feedback from the sharp end in a number of ways. Anyone who identifies an area for improvement can tell their chain of command, who will note it in a post-operational report.

In addition, teams of researchers visit units that have recently returned from a tour to conduct syndicate discussions with all ranks and record their views. Mission exploitation symposiums also take place after key deployments or training periods, giving personnel from various arms and branches the chance to share ideas.

Finally, troops can submit their proposals directly to the Lessons Exploitation Centre via the Ministry of Defence intranet.

Lieutenant Colonel Steel said:

The process is designed to be a thorough way of extracting information and ensures that everyone in the chain of command can get their point of view across. It plays a significant role in improving our capabilities and will continue to do so as long as personnel persist in reporting their good ideas.

Once the information has been received and analysed, it is passed to the relevant branch at Army Headquarters to be put into action as appropriate. Tangible results can be seen in improved personal equipment such as ballistic glasses and body armour.

But, while more complicated technology such as new vehicles can take years to hit the front line, other lessons are translated much more rapidly. One such example is the 1-page guide that is produced and distributed in a matter of days if troops need to be made aware of an urgent operational development.

British Army mentor with Afghan soldier

Mentoring skills and techniques learned and developed in Afghanistan will be transferable to future stabilisation and peacekeeping roles (library image) [Picture: Corporal Jamie Peters, Crown copyright]

Lieutenant Colonel Steel explained:

The response happens as fast as it reasonably can. In the best-case scenario, an incident could occur in theatre and within about 48 hours soldiers undergoing training for Afghanistan in the UK could know about a particular threat and how they can counter it.

For example, about 18 months ago in Helmand a new type of improvised explosive device (IED) known as a ‘pillow IED’ was identified. They look a bit like a half-empty sandbag, and insurgents could place them on a road surface, where they were very hard to decipher, within about 10 seconds.

They would listen for a vehicle patrol at night, scoot in quickly to lay the bomb and leave again without being seen, which obviously left soldiers very vulnerable. The counter-IED community found a device, examined it, and were able to devise some simple countermeasures which were emailed around Task Force Helmand within a few hours.

Soldiers may not always get the impression that senior officers are listening to them but examples such as this are proof that their suggestions are being taken seriously and used to enhance the Army’s capabilities, both now and in the future.

 

This article is based on a report by Becky Clark which features in the March 2014 issue of Soldier: Magazine of the British Army.

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5 mars 2014 3 05 /03 /mars /2014 17:50
Army cleared to fly next-generation eye-in-the-sky

Army personnel operating the Watchkeeper unmanned aerial system [Picture: Crown copyright]

 

5 March 2014 Ministry of Defence and Defence Equipment and Support

 

Watchkeeper, the Army's next-generation unmanned aerial system, has been cleared to begin military flight training with the Royal Artillery.

 

Approval has been given for the Army’s own pilots to begin live-flying the unarmed Watchkeeper from Boscombe Down in Wiltshire; up until now it has been only been trialled by industry.

Gathering crucial information from the battlefield, Watchkeeper will provide UK troops with life-saving surveillance, reconnaissance and intelligence. It will also give personnel on the ground much greater situational awareness, helping to reduce threats.

Over the coming weeks, highly skilled 1st Artillery Brigade pilots will be trained to fly Watchkeeper in a restricted airspace over the Salisbury Plain Training Area. The flights, which will take place between 8,000 and 16,000 feet, will be overseen by military air traffic controllers.

Watchkeeper unmanned aerial system
The British Army's Watchkeeper unmanned aerial system in flight over the UK during testing (library image) [Picture: Richard Seymour, Thales UK]

Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology Philip Dunne said:

Watchkeeper will provide real-time information for troops conducting operations on the ground, allowing them to understand better and thereby overcome threats they may face. The ‘release to service’ is a major milestone in this important programme.

Watchkeeper is the first unmanned aerial system developed and built in the UK to become operational. Watchkeeper will be a significant surveillance and reconnaissance capability for the Army for years to come and there is no doubt that it will prove to be a battle-winning technology.

Since its first UK flight in 2010 by Thales UK, Watchkeeper, which has a wingspan of 35 feet, has already completed over 600 flying hours from West Wales Airport.

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5 février 2014 3 05 /02 /février /2014 19:20
Le VBCI n'est pas encore britannique...


05.02.2014 par Jean-Dominique Merchet
 

La coopération militaire franco-britannique n'est vraiment plus au beau fixe. Nous annonçions sur ce blog que la British Army allait tester le Véhicule blindé de combat d'infanterie (VBCI) de Nexter et nous le faisions sur la base de déclarations du Premier ministre David Cameron lui-même lors de sa conférence de presse, à l'issue du sommet franco-britannique du 31 janvier. "The UK will also try out the French VBCI tank with a view to possibly purchasing it for the Army", rapportait la presse britannique.

Las ! Cette affaire de VBCI ne figure pas dans la déclaration finale du sommet... du fait du refus du ministère français de la défense. Pas plus d'ailleurs que le drone tactique Watchkeeper. Les deux affaires font l'objet de discussions très serrées et n'ont pas (encore?) abouties.

Des deux côtés de la Manche, les militaires sont pourtant favorables à ce prêt d'une vingtaine de VBCI, mais les politiques l'entendent autrement. 

Rappelons que le VBCI n'a toujours pas trouvé preneur à l'exportation. 

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5 février 2014 3 05 /02 /février /2014 18:50
Was Watchkeeper UAV Grounded During 4th Quarter of 2013?

 

Jan 31, 2014 By Giovanni de Briganti - Defense-Aerospace.com


PARIS --- The service introduction of Watchkeeper, the tactical UAV that has been in development for the British Army since 2005, may be further delayed due to unidentified technical issues that appear to have grounded the aircraft for three months in late 2013.

The Watchkeeper program apparently logged no flight activity between mid-September and mid-January, according to data provided by Thales, the program’s main contractor, which showed that the number of total flight hours and total sorties barely changed between Sept. 16, 2013 and Jan 12, 2014.

As of Sept. 16, Watchkeeper had flown “almost 600 sorties, for a total of about 1,000 flight hours,” a Thales spokesperson told Defense-Aerospace.com in an e-mail follow-up to an interview at the DSEi show in London.

On Jan. 20, responding to a follow-up query, the Thales spokesperson said that “Tests are progressing nominally, as planned. We have now passed 600 sorties and are nearing 1,000 flight hours.”

These figures show no flight activity between mid-September and mid-January. Asked to explain this apparent discrepancy, the Thales spokesperson had not responded by our deadline, three days later.

“The delivery of Watchkeeper equipment is on track and trials are continuing with over 550 hours flying having been completed,” the UK Ministry of Defence in a Jan 31 e-mail statement. Note this is about half the flight hour figure provided by Thales.

“…the Release to Service process is taking longer than expected,” the MoD statement continued, adding that “The last flight was last week, so it’s incorrect to say that the assets are still grounded.”

This unannounced grounding may be one reason why the French Ministry of Defense is back-pedaling on earlier promises to consider buying the Watchkeeper, after an inconclusive evaluation between April and July 2013 by the French army. The evaluation included “several dozen flight hours” from Istres, the French air force’s flight test center in south-eastern France, a French MoD spokesman said Jan. 31. The evaluation report has not been completed, and no date has been set, he added.

The final communiqué of today’s Anglo-French summit meeting, for the first time since November 2010, makes no mention of the Watchkeeper, although it was mentioned in passing by French President François Hollande during the summit press conference.

Thales’ figures on Watchkeeper flight activities have also been provided to other news outlets.

A Jan. 16 article by FlightGlobal quotes Nick Miller, Thales UK’s business director for ISTAR and UAV systems, as saying that “Watchkeeper aircraft have now completed more than 600 flights, exceeding a combined 950 flight hours.”

Aviation Week had posted an article the previous day, Jan. 15, in which it reported that “Thales U.K….is continuing flight trials and supports army training(Emphasis added—Ed.). However, it is difficult to understand how training can take place without an increase in the number of sorties and flight hours.

The above article says “Watchkeeper may début in spring,” echoing a similar story published Sept. 12, 2013 in which Aviation Week said Thales UK “is hopeful that …Watchkeeper…will be certified by the end of the year.” This did not happen.

This same Aviation Week Sept. 12 story said that the Watchkeeper “fleet has flown more than 1,000 hr. over 600 flights” – a higher figure than FlightGlobal reported on Jan. 16, four months later.

The discrepancies in the figures provided to at least three trade publications clearly contradict company statements that Watchkeeper flight operations are “nominal” and “are continuing,” as they show no flight activity has been logged since September.

The obvious conclusion is that flight activities have been curtailed, either by a technical grounding or because of administrative blockages. In either case, Watchkeeper – which is already over three years late -- has clearly hit new obstacles that will further delay its operational clearance by the UK Ministry of Defence’s new Military Aviation Authority (MAA).

Watchkeeper is being developed by UAV Tactical Systems (U-TacS), a joint venture between Israel’s Elbit Systems (51% share) and Thales UK, the British unit of France’s Thales, under a contract awarded in 2005. UAV Engines Ltd, which builds Watchkeeper’s engine in the UK, is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Elbit Systems.

Originally valued at £700 million, the cost has escalated to over £850 million, and service introduction has been delayed by at least three years.

The British Army is due to receive a total of 54 Watchkeeper unmanned aircraft and 15 ground stations. By late 2013, 26 aircraft and 14 ground stations had been delivered, according to published reports.

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8 janvier 2014 3 08 /01 /janvier /2014 08:35
Les forces britanniques dans la province d'Hellmand, en Afghanistan, en 2009

Les forces britanniques dans la province d'Hellmand, en Afghanistan, en 2009

La mission était-elle de tuer des talibans ou de reconstruire le pays?

 

6 janvier 2014 par Jacques N. Godbout - 45eNord.ca

 

Avec le retrait qui approche, c’est l’heure des bilans. Après les Américains, d’anciens chefs de l’armée britannique ont averti à leur tour lundi que des zones du sud de l’Afghanistan risquaient de tomber aux mains des talibans après le départ des troupes britanniques.

 

Le Royaume-Uni compte environ 5200 soldats en Afghanistan, contre 9000 au début de l’année 2013 et le pays prévoit retirer toutes ses troupes de combat avant la fin 2014.

 

L’ex-commandant des troupes d’élite Special Air Service (SAS) Richard Williams a affirmé au Times de Londres qu’il y avait déjà des preuves d’une collaboration grandissante entre les insurgés talibans et les soldats et politiciens afghans dans la province de Helmand (sud-ouest).

 

«Je serais très surpris que le futur gouverneur de l’Helmand… ne soit pas lié à ceux que nous appelons talibans», a déclaré Richard Williams.

 

«Nous allons nous trouver dans une situation très inconfortable, où les gens diront: ‘Nous avons perdu près de 500 soldats, la plupart au Helmand, et au final, nous avons rendu le Helmand à un gouverneur proche des talibans».

 

Déjà, en décembre, le très sérieux Washington Post révélait qu’un «National Intelligence Estimate» (NIE) sur la guerre en Afghanistan prévoyait que les gains que les gains qu’ont fait les États-Unis et leurs alliés au cours des trois dernières années sont susceptibles d’être considérablement érodés d’ici 2017, même si Washington laisse derrière lui quelques milliers de soldats et continue de financer la sécurité des Afghans.

 

Et les NIE ne sont pas à prendre à la légère. Ils sont produits par le National Intelligence Council pour le Directeur du renseignement national, qui est chef de la communauté du renseignement, et reflètent les avis de la Communauté du Renseignement des États-Unis qui regroupe les 16 services de renseignement des États-Unis.

 

David Richards, chef du personnel de l’armée britannique jusqu’à l’année dernière, a quant à lui estimé dans le Times que la capacité de l’armée afghane à faire face à l’insurrection des talibans allait «rapidement s’évanouir» après le retrait.

 

Plus cinglant, Lord Ashdown de Norton-sub-Hamdon, l’ancien chef libéral-démocrate et un ex-Royal Marine, est allé jusqu’à qualifier le conflit, qui a duré près de 13 ans et coûté jusqu’à 447 vies britanniques ainsi que des dizaines de milliards de livres [la devise britannique], de parfaite illustration de la façon de perdre une guerre.

 

«Mission accomplie»…ou pas!

 

Le premier ministre David Cameron a été l’objet de critiques le mois dernier pour avoir dit que les troupes de l’OTAN avaient accompli leur mission de sécuriser l’Afghanistan, dans un écho aux propos controversés de l’ex-président américain George W. Bush sur l’Irak, en 2003. On se souvient de l’immense banderole «Mision accomplished» sur le porte-avion américain à bord duquel le président Bush déclarait victoire…un peu trop vite.

 

Mais «Mission accomplie…ou pas?» Tout dépend de la définition de la mission.

 

Pour le colonel Richard Kemp, ex commandant des Forces britanniques en Afghanistan devenu écrivain depuis, les 446 vies britanniques qui ont été perdues lors de ces années de lutte ne l’ont pas été pour la reconstruction de l’Afghanistan, mais pour tuer les extrémistes islamiques violents qui y sévissaient.

 

S’exprimant lui aussi dans le Times, lundi, Richard Kemp déplore que les experts «rejetent comme inutiles les 446 décès de militaires britanniques en Afghanistan».

 

«Cette perspective découle d’une combinaison de dogme anti-guerre délirant, de l’ambiguïté innée de la guerre non conventionnelle et de l’incapacité des gouvernements successifs à expliquer la réalité du conflit en Afghanistan», affirme celui qui a mis en place et dirigé les opérations anti-terroristes conjointes de la 4e brigade expéditionnaire des Marines américains et de l’armée britannique et enregistré plusieurs succès contre les extrémistes liés à Al-Qaïda.

 

«Mission accomplie!»…ou pas. Tout dépend de ce qu’on entend par mission, mettre des ennemis hors d’état de nuire ou reconstruire un pays, mais, pour Richard Kemp, c’est clair, ces vie n’ont pas été sacrifiées en vain et les forces de la Coalition ont bel et bien infligé une défaire cuisante à leurs ennemis.

 

Quant à savoir ce qui arrivera après, cela semble une autre histoire.

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7 décembre 2013 6 07 /12 /décembre /2013 23:50
Reservists Training to be Challenger Tank Crew

 

18.11.2013 UK MoD

 

Army Reservists of the The Royal Wessex Yeomanry (RWxY), the South West's Army Reserve Cavalry Regiment taking part in Challenger 2 main battle tank live firing exercise.

As their civilian colleagues drove to work through the morning rush hour on Monday 18th November, 40 Army Reservists from the West Country climbed aboard Challenger 2 Main Battle Tanks to experience live firings first hand as they trained to become tank crews.


-------------------------------------------------------
© Crown Copyright 2013
Photographer: Sgt Russ Nolan RLC
Image 45156297.jpg from www.defenceimages.mod.uk

Reservists Training to be Challenger Tank CrewReservists Training to be Challenger Tank Crew
Reservists Training to be Challenger Tank Crew
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16 octobre 2013 3 16 /10 /octobre /2013 07:50
200 More STARStreak Missiles For British Army

15/10/2013 by Paul Fiddian - Armed Forces International's Lead Reporter

 

The Ministry of Defence has contracted Thales to supply the UK Armed Forces with 200 additional STARStreak surface-to-air missiles, it's been confirmed.

 

The British Army has been a STARStreak MANPADS (Man-portable air-defence system) user since 1997.

 

A prime element of the UK's GBAD (Ground-Based Air Defence) capability, STARStreak missiles formed part of the London 2012 Olympic Games' security shield. Deployed by the British Army, their involvement was considered paramount in helping deter would-be terrorists from targeting the event.

 

To date, some 7,000 missiles have been produced in numerous versions but, so far, none have been launched operationally. Four feet seven inches long, the missiles are equipped with a trio of explosive sub-munitions and reach a maximum velocity of Mach 3.5 when in flight.

 

British Army STARStreaks

 

Currently, the British Army has around 150 STARStreak missile launchers in service, while South Africa has eight and, last year, the Royal Thai Army became the weapon's newest customer.

 

News of the 2013 British Army STARStreak missiles order was delivered by David Cameron, Prime Minister, at the recent Northern Ireland Investment Conference. It represents one component of the Force 2020 project - an ongoing British Army equipment review programme.

 

200 STARStreaks Order

 

‘Not only will this contract sustain jobs at our facilities in Northern Ireland, but it also demonstrates very clearly to our export customers the ongoing importance and trust that the UK MoD places in the STARStreak system and our design, manufacturing and support capabilities", said Thales Managing Director, David Beatty, in the firm's 200 STARStreaks order press release.

 

"We saw during the Olympics last year how important our air defence capability is", added Philip Dunne MP, the Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology. "This contract for 200 extra STARStreak missiles will not only provide our Armed Forces with a highly capable weapon, but it also secures hundreds of highly skilled defence jobs in Northern Ireland and should provide confidence to the export markets of the STARStreak system."

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8 octobre 2013 2 08 /10 /octobre /2013 17:20
Active Eagle puts Paras through their paces

Paratroopers dismount from a Chinook helicopter [Picture: Corporal Obi Igbo, Crown copyright]

 

8 October 2013 Ministry of Defence and Defence Infrastructure Organisation

 

From helicopter assaults to dealing with public disturbances, the British Army's rapid reaction force is ready for action.

 

Exercise Active Eagle has seen the 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment (2 PARA) battle group undergo demanding and varied training at the Stanford Training Area (STANTA) in Norfolk.

The exercise saw the Air Assault Task Force (AATF) deploying to extract European citizens from a fictional country with long-standing frictions along sectarian lines, and dealing with a terrorist threat.

Paratroopers launch an assault on a compound
Paratroopers launch an assault on a compound during Exercise Active Eagle [Picture: Corporal Obi Igbo, Crown copyright]

The 2 PARA battle group is based around the airborne infantry of 2 PARA, with the attached artillery, engineering, signals, aviation, logistics and medical support from 16 Air Assault Brigade needed to conduct operations.

The 2 PARA battle group is currently serving as the AATF, which is ready to deploy anywhere in the world at short notice to conduct the full spectrum of military operations, from non-combatant evacuation operations to war-fighting. Active Eagle helped to provide a run out for the battle group, ensuring it is ready to deploy, and provided refresher training on key skills.

Paratroopers receive a tactical briefing
Paratroopers receive a tactical briefing using a map of the area of operations [Picture: Corporal Obi Igbo, Crown copyright]

The battle group converged on Rock Barracks in Woodbridge to mount for the operation before being inserted into STANTA by parachute and helicopter. Scenarios the troops had to deal with included protecting an embassy against a rioting crowd who bombarded them with abuse, petrol bombs and missiles, and assaulting a village to free local police under siege from insurgents.

The 2-week-long training concluded with live fire battle runs that saw troops manoeuvring across hostile countryside by day and night, with fire support from 105mm light guns, 81mm mortars and Apache attack helicopters, and surveillance from RAF Tornado GR4 fast jets.

Paratroopers dismount from a Chinook helicopter
Paratroopers dismount from a Chinook helicopter [Picture: Corporal Obi Igbo, Crown copyright]

Lieutenant Colonel Adam Dawson, Commanding Officer of 2 PARA, said:

This exercise is designed to corral within 1 scenario the multifaceted challenges that the AATF may face. It gave the opportunity to run out the planning team’s functions within the headquarters and access a broad range of assets. Combined with challenging and enjoyable training, it has resulted in a confirmation of our readiness for any challenge that may require our intervention.

Corporal Dan Bradley, aged 27 from Droitwich, is a member of the Patrols Platoon which parachuted in to set up covert observation posts to monitor movement at an insurgent position.

Battle group commanders pore over a map
Battle group commanders pore over a map during Exercise Active Eagle [Picture: Corporal Obi Igbo, Crown copyright]

Corporal Bradley said:

We work ahead of the main body of troops to establish where enemy forces are and what their pattern of life is to inform the commander’s planning. Our role is all about seeing without being seen and is a real test of the basic soldiering skills of living in the field and camouflage.

I’ve been on 2 tours of Afghanistan and this is a very different style of working – we move on foot carrying all our kit and supplies – but the experience of operations has put us in a good place to adapt.

Lieutenant Tom Glinn briefs his men during a night operation
Lieutenant Tom Glinn briefs his men during a night operation on Exercise Active Eagle [Picture: Corporal Obi Igbo, Crown copyright]
Paratroopers fire an 80mm mortar round
Privates Craig Pott, Terry Little and Thomas Wike fire an 80mm mortar round [Picture: Corporal Obi Igbo, Crown copyright]
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2 octobre 2013 3 02 /10 /octobre /2013 12:50
Army reserves train on Salisbury Plain

A Challenger 2 engages an enemy position using laser sights – a pyrotechnic element adds realism to the visual simulation  (photo  Richard Watt, UK MoD)

 

1 October 2013 Ministry of Defence

 

Army reserve soldiers from the Royal Wessex Yeomanry are this week training with Challenger 2 tanks on Salisbury Plain.

 

More than 100 soldiers are training to become crewmen on the armoured vehicles and this is the first time in several years that the unit has had the opportunity to train with Challenger 2 on Salisbury Plain.

The reservists are spending a week on the Plain taking part in Exercise Wessex Dragon, which is their annual training camp.

The exercise is also an opportunity for the unit to use and train on its new fleet of Wolf Scout Land Rover vehicles which were recently delivered to the unit’s squadrons as part of the government’s ongoing £1.2 billion investment to revitalise the Army Reserve.

Trooper Elliot Metcalfe said:

The training stands today have been very good and very informative on all different aspects of the Challenger 2, and I have enjoyed using the laser technology system which is fitted to our weapons so we can simulate firing and hitting a target.

Troops work on extracting a casualty from a tank
Troops work on extracting a casualty from a tank [Picture: Richard Watt, Crown copyright]

Captain Damien Thursby said:

Since the Future Reserves 2020 announcement we are actually getting to see the tanks more and having more opportunities for all the guys to get out on exercise with regular units, which is great.

Corporal Nathan Howard said:

The is the first time we have been able to take the tanks out as a troop working under our own steam and it is very beneficial learning to live with our tanks out here for 3 or 4 days.

These reserve personnel are preparing to fulfil a vital role in the future British Army as, by this time next year, the Royal Wessex Yeomanry will formally become the only armoured reinforcement unit in Britain.

Troops being briefed before an exercise
Troops being briefed before an exercise [Picture: Richard Watt, Crown copyright]

The regiment will be working towards fully integrating with the British Army’s 3 regular armoured units, the Queen’s Royal Hussars, the King’s Royal Hussars and the Royal Tank Regiment, who will be based together in Tidworth, Wiltshire.

As a result, the Royal Wessex Yeomanry will be one of only a handful of reserve units to be part of the British Army’s reactive forces which are held at a state of higher readiness and are prepared to deploy anywhere around the world to protect Britain’s interests and national security.

This challenging and exciting new role for the Royal Wessex Yeomanry was bestowed upon them following the recent publication of the white paper ‘Reserves in the Future Force 2020’. This document detailed the restructure of the British Army and the creation of a new, well-trained, well-funded, well-equipped and fully integrated Reserve Force.

In order to successfully fulfil this enhanced new role, the Royal Wessex Yeomanry will work closely with the aforementioned regular regiments and, from now on, will train alongside them in preparation for any possible future deployment.

Lieutenant Colonel Chris MacGregor said:

Integration is absolutely vital so we have borrowed for this training 8 tanks from one of our paired regular units, the King’s Royal Hussars, and a crew from the 1st Royal Tank Regiment, which is another. We also have instructors from these units permanently based with us.

There is a desire on the part of regular forces to invest in their reservists and likewise the reservists want the best capability they can get and that comes through great training and opportunities like this.

The UK Reserve Forces play a vital part in our nation’s defence. Find out how you can get involved and what is on offer for Reserve

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19 septembre 2013 4 19 /09 /septembre /2013 07:50
The First Royal Tank Regiment conducting live firing

18 September 2013 by UK MoD - Image of the Day

 

The First Royal Tank Regiment recently conducted live firing at Castlemartin Ranges in Pembrokeshire for the last time before amalgamation with the Second Royal Tank Regiment in August 2014. The live firing was the culmination of a challenging return-to-role training progression that sees the regiment perfectly poised for the forthcoming challenges of Exercise Prairie Storm 4 at the British Army Training Unit Suffield in Canada in October. Pictured, D Squadron conduct a systems performance check prior to beginning live fire exercises.

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13 septembre 2013 5 13 /09 /septembre /2013 11:50
Selex ES and Ultra CCS chosen for British Army Warrior situational awareness

Sep 12, 2013 ASDNews Source : Selex ES

 

Selex ES, a Finmeccanica company, and partner Ultra Electronics Command & Control Systems have been awarded a contract by prime contractor Lockheed Martin UK – Ampthill for the supply of driver’s and local situational awareness cameras for the Demonstration phase of the British Army’s Warrior vehicle upgrades.

 

As part of the £1 billion Warrior Capability Sustainment Programme (WCSP) to upgrade the Warrior vehicle, the new driver’s and local situational awareness cameras will provide the Warrior’s crew with an under armour capability to see 360 degrees around the vehicle and drive by indirect view under both day and night conditions.

 

The camera solution consists of a combination of the Selex ES Driver’s Night Vision System 4 (DNVS4) sensor and the Ultra CCS HUBE cameras fitted around the vehicle. The capability of the DNVS4 ensures that the vehicle can be safely and effectively manoeuvred during both day and night while the small and robust HUBE cameras provide full 360 degree peripheral coverage, improving the situational awareness of the driver and crew. Ongoing production programmes associated with both products has enabled Selex ES and Ultra CCS to meet the tight schedule requirements associated with the Demonstration phase.

 

Compliance of the Selex ES DNVS4 with the UK’s Generic Vehicle Architecture (GVA) ensures that the solution is future proofed against any further capability enhancements that may be required for the vehicle through its life.

 

Initially, the camera solution will be supplied for up to 13 Warrior vehicles. Following a successful Demonstration phase, a manufacturing contract is expected in 2016 which will see the camera system fitted to several hundred Warrior vehicles.

 

“Selex ES has previously provided night vision and vehicle situational awareness cameras for a majority of British Army vehicles including Viking, Challenger II, Mastiff, Ridgback, Wolfhound and Warthog”, said Mike Gilbert, SVP Optronics UK at Selex ES, adding: “Building on this heritage, our collaboration with Ultra CCS brings the best of both companies together to provide an exceptional visual capability for the Warrior crews”.

 

”Ultra CCS is proud to be involved on the Warrior Programme”, said Mike Williams, Managing Director at Ultra CCS. “The collaboration between Selex ES and Ultra CCS is a great example of two British companies working together and using their combined knowledge and experience to provide the optimum camera solution”.

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12 septembre 2013 4 12 /09 /septembre /2013 17:50
A Foxhound Light Protected Patrol Vehicle (Picture Corporal Si Longworth, UK MoD)

A Foxhound Light Protected Patrol Vehicle (Picture Corporal Si Longworth, UK MoD)

11 September 2013 Ministry of Defence and Defence Equipment and Support

 

The MOD is to buy an additional 24 Foxhound vehicles for the British Army in a new £23 million contract.

 

Foxhound, designed and built in the UK by General Dynamics Land Systems: Force Protection Europe (GDLS:FPE), first deployed to Afghanistan in 2012 and has proved successful on operations.

Foxhound represents leading edge technology, and the vehicles are agile enough to reach a top speed of 70mph and have a V-shaped hull, providing unparalleled protection against a range of threats for their weight and class.

Since 2010, MOD has invested £371 million in Foxhound and the latest order will take the Army’s total fleet to 400 vehicles.

A Foxhound Light Protected Patrol Vehicle
A Foxhound Light Protected Patrol Vehicle is put through its paces at Camp Bastion, Afghanistan [Picture: Graeme Main, Crown copyright]

Announcing the contract at the DSEI (Defence Security Equipment International) Conference in London, Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology, Philip Dunne said:

Foxhound gives our Armed Forces enhanced mobility, enhanced protection and enables them to operate in a wide range of environments.

This further £23 million investment will bolster the British Army’s capability far into the future and demonstrates our commitment to provide troops with the battle-winning vehicles they deserve.

There is no better advertisement for the British Defence industry on the international stage than the UK’s Armed Forces using British-built equipment on operations.

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26 juin 2013 3 26 /06 /juin /2013 11:50
photo UK MoD

photo UK MoD

June 26, 2013: Strategy Page

 

Recently, after 14 years of effort the British Army finally got its first Terrier engineer vehicle. Think of this as an armored bulldozer that has lots of attachments that enable it to do all sorts of construction jobs on the battlefield. Britain needed the 30 ton Terrier to replace the elderly (entered service in 1976) 17 ton FV180s.

 

The British Army officially began the Terrier procurement program in 1999. In 2002 the army signed the contract to have the Terrier designed and manufactured. The price went up (from $5 million each to $9 million) and the quantity went down (from 100 to 60). It’s not unusual for projects like this to take over a decade, while getting a lot more expensive.

 

Most other nations do not require as much time to develop new combat engineering vehicles because they take recently retired (or currently in service) tanks, remove the turret (and replace it with a fixed armored structure) and add the engineer attachments (bulldozer blade, drills, hoists and so on). This takes much less time, providing a more robust vehicle and, if you are using older tanks, does not cost much more (to refurbish and rebuild the old tank chassis.)

 

The Terrier has an advantage in that it can more easily be moved by air (since it is not based on the chassis of a tank). Beyond that it has all the usual engineer capabilities. It can act as a bulldozer, dig trenches, drill into and shatter concrete and, like many current combat engineer vehicles, be operated by remote control. Also, like other current armored vehicles, the Terrier has five vidcams that lets the crew (of two) see all around the vehicle. In addition there is a thermal imager enabling the vehicle to safely make its way through a combat zone. The only weapons on these engineering vehicles are some machine-guns and, in some models, a short range cannon for firing demolition shells (to destroy obstacles or structures).

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12 juin 2013 3 12 /06 /juin /2013 07:50
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11 juin 2013 2 11 /06 /juin /2013 21:50
British Challenger 2 Main battle Tanks(MBT) and the Warrior Armoured Infantry Fighting Vehicles

11.06.2013 British Army


A combination of British Challenger 2 Main battle Tanks(MBT) and the Warrior Armoured Infantry Fighting Vehicles on the live firing range at Grafenwöhr (Germany).

Images by Cpl Wes Calder RLC (phot)
MOD/Crown copyright

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11 juin 2013 2 11 /06 /juin /2013 16:50
Personnel from 143 (West Midlands) Brigade erect a flood defence barrier at the National Grid gas compressor station at Alrewas during the exercise [Picture: Sergeant Russ Nolan RLC, UK MoD]

Personnel from 143 (West Midlands) Brigade erect a flood defence barrier at the National Grid gas compressor station at Alrewas during the exercise [Picture: Sergeant Russ Nolan RLC, UK MoD]

11 June 2013 Ministry of Defence

 

Army personnel have joined local authorities and emergency services to see how prepared they are to tackle a major environmental incident.

 

Exercise Triton took place in Staffordshire and was designed to see how the Army worked alongside partners from the area when it comes to emergency planning.

220 personnel from 143 (West Midlands) Brigade, drawn from its headquarters, the Royal Mercian and Lancastrian Yeomanry, 159 Supply Regiment Royal Logistic Corps, Birmingham University Officer Training Corps and 22 Signal Regiment, were deployed on the exercise.

The scenario centred on abnormally heavy rainfall causing severe flooding around the county, including the failure of a dam at Blithfield Reservoir.

Tasks tackled by the military included erecting flood defence bunds (embankments) around the National Grid gas compressor station at Alrewas, assisting in the rescue of civilians and evacuating people at risk, and involved the use of a search and rescue Sea King helicopter.

Major incidents are logged
Major incidents are logged as they occur [Picture: Sergeant Russ Nolan RLC, Crown copyright]

The brigade also provided senior staff for the strategic (gold) and tactical (silver) control groups based at Staffordshire Police headquarters and Tamworth Community Fire Station, respectively, as well as running an operations room from brigade headquarters at Copthorne Barracks in Shrewsbury.

The Army drew in soldiers and sailors from as far away as Plymouth and Aldershot to ensure a realistic mobilisation procedure.

The second exercise of its kind for Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent, it featured ‘players’ at all response levels, including live search and rescue play, with helicopters from the Royal Air Force, police and air ambulance operating from a combined co-ordination cell.

Lieutenant Colonel Guy Chambers, Joint Resilience Liaison Officer for the Army in the West Midlands, said:

Triton was the culmination of a series of exercises that we have been involved in with Staffordshire.

There is no doubt that the long history of integration with the Staffordshire responders and the military has fostered close relationships and detailed understanding. There is no question that the Staffordshire plans have been thoroughly tested and all parties have great confidence in the plans, the response and each other.

A Royal Air Force Sea King helicopter carries out a river rescue
A Royal Air Force Sea King helicopter carries out a river rescue during the exercise [Picture: Sergeant Russ Nolan RLC, Crown copyright]

Project Manager Sarah Moore, from the Staffordshire Civil Contingencies Unit, said:

Exercises like this are really important to test our capabilities and find any flaws in our plans so that we are in a better position to respond should real events occur. All organisations taking part have put in a great deal of effort to ensure a realistic scenario and response.

Staffordshire Police Deputy Chief Constable Jane Sawyers added:

I would like to say a very big thank you to everyone who took part in Exercise Triton. The exercise provided a unique opportunity for all Staffordshire Resilience Forum (SRF) partners to practise their internal and multi-agency response plans in a realistic and challenging scenario.

Above all, we have had the confidence to commit to doing this through a 24-hour period of constant exercise play that simultaneously tested multi-agency gold, silver and bronze levels for the first time.

This was something that was endorsed by the SRF when the exercise concept was approved almost 2 years ago and it is perhaps the closest that we can come to simulating the pressure of a complex multi-agency response for real.

In order for us to build on the significant learning that will no doubt come from Exercise Triton, there will now be a range of follow-on activities aimed at capturing lessons from all participants.

Brigadier Gerhard Wheeler and Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Ledsham
Brigadier Gerhard Wheeler, Commander 143 (West Midlands) Brigade, receives a briefing from Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Ledsham [Picture: Sergeant Russ Nolan RLC, Crown copyright]

Participating players included Staffordshire County Council, Staffordshire Police, Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service, West Midlands Ambulance Service, the NHS, utility companies, Highways and Transport, Staffordshire Civil Contingencies Unit, and various government departments and voluntary sector organisations. In all 37 different response agencies took part in the exercise.

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10 juin 2013 1 10 /06 /juin /2013 16:50
Riflemen on Exercise Lion Star 3 in Cyprus [Picture: UK MoD]

Riflemen on Exercise Lion Star 3 in Cyprus [Picture: UK MoD]

10 June 2013 Ministry of Defence

 

Territorial Army soldiers from 6th Battalion The Rifles have joined their regular colleagues to take part in Exercise Lion Star 3 in Cyprus.

 

The TA riflemen joined soldiers from 1st Battalion The Rifles (1 RIFLES) in a 2-week test of their fitness, endurance and decision-making skills.

The challenging exercise was designed to attract new recruits to 6th Battalion The Rifles (6 RIFLES) and the wider TA, which is planned to grow from 19,000 to 30,000 by 2018, as well as retain those currently serving with the unit.

But it was also focused on enabling these TA soldiers to learn new skills such as helicopter insertions and amphibious landings, both of which the reservists from 6 RIFLES – who normally work in offices, schools, supermarkets or in hospitals – experienced on the same day; storming a beach and swooping into land on a sun-baked cornfield alongside a Fire Support Group from 1 RIFLES on a search and find operation.

Riflemen on patrol during Exercise Lion Star 3 in Cyprus
Riflemen on patrol during Exercise Lion Star 3 in Cyprus [Picture: Crown copyright]

They then worked together for nearly 48 hours against a notional enemy made up of more regular soldiers from 2nd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment, the resident infantry battalion based in Cyprus.

Rifleman Dominic Mason was the first off the landing craft. He said:

It was really exciting but not quite what I was expecting. I was expecting it to be on a flat beach but as soon as we got off we had a cliff to climb. But everything went to plan and it was great fun – not something you get to do every day.

Riflemen taking part in a beach landing during Exercise Lion Star 3
Riflemen taking part in a beach landing during Exercise Lion Star 3 in Cyprus [Picture: Crown copyright]

As well as some of the hardest and most physically demanding training the unit has undertaken for at least a year, Exercise Lion Star 3 was crucial in giving 6 RIFLES a taste of the vital role which reservists are likely to play in the future British Army after 2020 and beyond.

Under the Army 2020 plans, reservists who deploy to serve their country in the future will be fully integrated with their regular counterparts within a single force structure. It is part of a wide-ranging transformation of the Army, designed to enable it to better meet the security challenges Britain will face in the future, as outlined in the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review.

This crucial and enhanced role for the TA will be spelt out later this year when the government publishes a white paper on reservists.

Riflemen take a break in the 37-degree heat
Riflemen take a break in the 37-degree heat during training in Cyprus [Picture: Crown copyright]

Brigadier Piers Hankinson is Commander of 43 (Wessex) Brigade and is in overall command of 6 RIFLES. He said:

From my perspective as Brigade Commander, what this says is that the Army is taking seriously the regeneration of the Territorial Force. This is indicative of the overseas exercises now available to TA battalions such as 6 RIFLES.

Exercise Lion Star 3 is a taster of what reserves training is likely to look like in the future following an injection of £1.8 billion from the government; an investment which also recently saw 6 RIFLES kitted out with the new multi-terrain pattern camouflage clothing.

Exercise Lion Star 3 was the first time the unit wore the new uniform – the fact it is impregnated with insect repellent being particularly welcomed by those sleeping out in the field for several nights in a row – but, more significantly, it makes these reservists indistinguishable from their regular counterparts.

Reservists from 6 RIFLES have served their country in Iraq and Afghanistan more than 450 times over the last decade. Around 50 returned from Afghanistan last autumn where they served with 1 RIFLES.

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10 juin 2013 1 10 /06 /juin /2013 12:35
General Wall receives a briefing about redeployment from Lieutenant Colonel Ceri Morton [Picture: Corporal Si Longworth, UK MoD]

General Wall receives a briefing about redeployment from Lieutenant Colonel Ceri Morton [Picture: Corporal Si Longworth, UK MoD]

10 June 2013 Ministry of Defence

 

The head of the British Army has visited UK Service personnel working in Helmand province, southern Afghanistan.

 

 

General Sir Peter Wall travelled to Lashkar Gah, where he visited the Headquarters of Task Force Helmand and spoke with the Commander of British Forces in Helmand, Brigadier Rupert Jones, who updated him on the role of his troops in support of Afghan security forces.

General Wall also met with the Provincial Reconstruction Team’s Head of Mission, Catriona Laing, to discuss how civilian and military colleagues are working together to ensure Helmand’s progress in governance, development and the rule of law are maintained beyond the drawdown of UK forces from the region.

General Wall then travelled to the Lashkar Gah Training Centre (LTC) where he was briefed by the Commanding Officer of the Police Mentoring and Advisory Group (PMAG), Lieutenant Colonel Robin Lindsay.

General Wall talks with Brigadier Rupert Jones
General Wall talks with the Commander Task Force Helmand, Brigadier Rupert Jones, at Lashkar Gah [Picture: Corporal Si Longworth, Crown copyright]

The PMAG, formed from 2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland (2 SCOTS), works directly with the Afghan police who will provide enduring security across Helmand.

While at the LTC, General Wall viewed new recruits of the Afghan National Police conducting training to counter the threat of improvised explosive devices.

Lieutenant Colonel Lindsay said:

The Laskar Gah Training Centre is a centre of police excellence and a reflection of the institutional and tactical progress that the Afghan Police have made over the last 4 years.

The standards here are high and the quality of graduates illustrates the increasing professionalism of the police. These policemen and women represent the future for Helmand’s security, so to see their enthusiasm to serve their local communities is really encouraging.

General Wall then flew to the main British operating base in Helmand, Camp Bastion, where he visited the Brigade Advisory Group (BAG), made up of 4th Battalion The Rifles (4 RIFLES), under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Tom Bewick.

The BAG advises the Afghan National Army’s 3/215 Brigade, and General Wall took the opportunity to watch Afghan soldiers conduct mortar training in the adjacent Afghan Camp Shorabak.

General Wall has supper with a group of soldiers
General Wall has supper with a group of soldiers [Picture: Corporal Si Longworth, Crown copyright]

Before leaving Camp Bastion, General Wall visited the Headquarters of Joint Force Support (Afghanistan) where he was briefed by the commander, Air Commodore John Bessell. He then conducted a tour of the various sites on camp involved in the redeployment of military equipment back to the UK – a process that is well underway since it began in October 2012.

General Wall said:

It’s invaluable to come and get an assessment from those on the ground of the progress we’re making, the issues we are having to confront as the campaign evolves, and also to see what sort of shape our people are in.

This was also a great opportunity to see for myself the quality of the training that the Afghan Police and Army are undertaking and I have been impressed by both their professionalism and confidence.

The change between what I found at Christmas time during my last visit and the current situation is quite remarkable.

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9 juin 2013 7 09 /06 /juin /2013 12:50
A gunner from 1st Battalion The Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment looks along the sights of a general purpose machine gun [Picture: Corporal Wes Calder RLC, UK MoD]

A gunner from 1st Battalion The Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment looks along the sights of a general purpose machine gun [Picture: Corporal Wes Calder RLC, UK MoD]

7 June 2013 Ministry of Defence

 

Over 2,000 troops and 750 vehicles from 20th Armoured Brigade have been preparing for the scenarios likely to be faced in future conflicts.

 

Exercise Bavarian Charger is the first of 3 large exercises being undertaken by the brigade this summer, and is designed to prepare personnel for contingency operations post-Afghanistan.

Captain Strachan-Hayes from Headquarters 20th Armoured Brigade said:

This is the culmination of 4 or 5 months of training within the battle groups of the brigade where we have taken individual soldiers and built up their skills to platoon then company level.

We don’t know what contingency will look like; the future of operations might be very different so we have to look at a broad spectrum of capabilities.

This exercise has focused on the worst case scenario; how we might attack or defend against a force that is of parity, integrating the all arms concept with the aviation assets, and transitioning from offensive operations into security operations where we would be required to protect the local nationals and reassure the population.

A Challenger 2 main battle tank
A British Challenger 2 main battle tank live firing in Grafenwöhr, Germany [Picture: Corporal Wes Calder RLC, Crown copyright]

The training was split into 3 phases starting with a demanding 2-week live firing package on the ranges of Grafenwöhr, which culminated in a series of attacks with the combined firepower of Challenger tanks, Warriors, Apache helicopters, infantry and artillery assets.

The brigade then travelled to Hohenfels, 100 kilometres further south. This move through open German countryside was designed to simulate the kind of challenges facing an armed force moving through a hostile environment. It also provided an opportunity to test the skills of 1 Logistic Support Regiment, who were co-ordinating the move.

The third phase took place in the heavily wooded and hilly terrain of the Hohenfels training area where the focus was on the planning and execution of operations at battle group and company level.

Soldiers from 2nd Battalion The Rifles
Soldiers from 2nd Battalion The Rifles conduct house-clearing in a village [Picture: Corporal Wes Calder RLC, Crown copyright]

The 5th Battalion The Rifles (5 RIFLES) and Queen’s Dragoon Guards Battle Groups were tested on tactics which involved sweeping across the battlefield in armoured vehicles before switching to peace support operations that required a more subtle and tempered approach.

For many of the Challenger crews from C Squadron of the Queen’s Royal Hussars this was the first time they had worked together on this kind of terrain and also the first time they had used their tanks in a counter-insurgency battle.

Besides the demanding pace of the exercise another challenge came in the form of the weather, with record rainfall over the 3 weeks causing severe flooding in south Germany and putting a dampener on morale, especially for the infantry troops of 5 RIFLES who were exposed to the unrelenting downpours during the digging-in phase.

Despite this, brigade personnel achieved some valuable training and had the chance to refresh their core skills having returned from Afghanistan in 2012.

Soldiers disembark a German CH-53G Stallion helicopter
Soldiers from the Queen's Dragoon Guards Battle Group disembark a German CH-53G Stallion helicopter [Picture: Corporal Wes Calder RLC, Crown copyright]
Soldiers build a 5-bay medium girder bridge
Soldiers from 37 Armoured Engineer Squadron build a 5-bay medium girder bridge for armoured vehicles to use [Picture: Corporal Wes Calder RLC, Crown copyright]
Soldiers from 1st Battalion The Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment
A Javelin (anti-tank weapon) fire team from 1st Battalion The Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment [Picture: Corporal Wes Calder RLC, Crown copyright]
An Apache attack helicopter
A British Apache attack helicopter provides close air support for the troops on the ground [Picture: Corporal Wes Calder RLC, Crown copyright]
Armoured vehicles
Armoured vehicles arrive in Hohenfels from Grafenwöhr by cargo train [Picture: Corporal Wes Calder RLC, Crown copyright]
British Challenger 2 main battle tanks and Warrior armoured infantry fighting vehicles
A panoramic view of British Challenger 2 main battle tanks and Warrior infantry fighting vehicles on the live firing range at Grafenwöhr [Picture: Corporal Wes Calder RLC, Crown copyright]
A soldier from 5th Battalion The Rifles
A soldier from 5th Battalion The Rifles provides cover for his colleagues [Picture: Corporal Wes Calder RLC, Crown copyright]
A British Warrior armoured infantry fighting vehicle
A British Warrior infantry fighting vehicle patrolling across the live firing range in Grafenwöhr [Picture: Corporal Wes Calder RLC, Crown copyright]
A British Challenger 2 main battle tank
A British Challenger 2 main battle tank live firing in Grafenwöhr [Picture: Corporal Wes Calder RLC, Crown copyright]
A soldier from the Queen's Dragoon Guards Battle Group
A soldier from the Queen's Dragoon Guards Battle Group moves to a firing position [Picture: Corporal Wes Calder RLC, Crown copyright]
A soldier from the Queen's Dragoon Guards Battle Group
A soldier from the Queen's Dragoon Guards Battle Group on a foot patrol [Picture: Corporal Wes Calder RLC, Crown copyright]
Soldiers build a 5-bay medium girder bridge
Soldiers from 37 Armoured Engineer Squadron build a 5-bay medium girder bridge for armoured vehicles to use [Picture: Corporal Wes Calder RLC, Crown copyright]
AS90 self-propelled gun
An AS90 self-propelled gun from 26th Regiment Royal Artillery firing 155-millimetre shells [Picture: Corporal Wes Calder RLC, Crown copyright]
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6 juin 2013 4 06 /06 /juin /2013 07:50

8 avril 2013 BritishForcesNews

The Queen's Royal Hussars and 5th Battalion The Rifles have been exercising their tanks and Warrior armoured vehicles on the Sennelager ranges in Germany, for the first time.

The regiments have been given special permission to train together as they are deploying to Canada in the summer.

It is hoped working together now will give them a head start for Exercise Prairie Thunder in July.

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