Two-week military exercise Joint Warrior starts

 

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The Independent Online

Hundreds of soldiers have been taking part in a military exercise today as part of training to be ready to deploy anywhere in the world at five days' notice.

Exercise Joint Warrior will see more than 1,600 troops training on the west coast of Scotland over the next two weeks.

The exercise is held twice a year to prepare forces from the UK, US, Denmark, Norway, France, Canada, Germany and the Netherlands for events and active service.

It is aimed at creating a task group capable of being deployed to worldwide incidents such as last year's war in Libya, as well as testing the ability of the armed forces to cope with events such as a terrorist attack on the Olympics.

Soldiers from 16 Air Assault Brigade took part in an exercise today to practise their airborne skills.

They secured an airfield at West Freugh, near Stranraer, Dumfries and Galloway, through a combination of parachute, air assault and tactical air landings.

The exercise scenario saw the airfield become part of an area disputed by two fictional nations called Pastonia and Dragonia.

Under the scenario, troops landed in the conflict zone after Nato sent a rapid intervention force to create the conditions for a UN peacekeeping force to take control.

The task force, based around the battle group of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, 5th Battalion the Royal Regiment of Scotland (5 SCOTS), then defended the airfield after landing.

Brigadier Giles Hill, commander of 16 Air Assault Brigade, said: "This is currently the largest annual exercise the MoD (Ministry of Defence) holds and it incorporates all of our services as well as our close allies.

"It presents us with a great opportunity to do the training this demanding role requires alongside those we may well operate with on real operations - importantly the RAF's Tactical Air Transport Fleet and the wider aviation community.

"I am also very encouraged by how we are training with our French colleagues in 11th French Parachute Brigade and I welcome them to the exercise."

The training is part of maintaining the skills of the Airborne Task Force (ABTF) role.

The ABTF is a 1,600-strong infantry battle group that can be called on at five days' notice to deploy on operations for up to 135 days.

Colonel Andrew Jackson, deputy commander of 16 Air Assault Brigade, added: "In this instance, this year, it's been a really good opportunity to practise our expeditionary operations and receive some really great training.

"Over time, we will see how it varies because obviously what we are about is versatility and the ability to deploy that force anywhere in a range of scenarios."

The entire exercise will involve more than 1,600 troops and be supported by Apache, Chinook and Sea King from the Joint Helicopter Force.

A total of 8,000 Royal Navy personnel on board 30 vessels are taking part in the Joint Warrior exercise.

Lieutenant Colonel Neil Den-McKay, commanding officer of 5 SCOTS, said: "The ABTF is a light-by-design, powerful and highly capable taskforce, designed for operations anywhere in the world.

"The training to undertake this role is incredibly challenging and requires skills we have not used for some time.

"5 SCOTS feel very proud to have been part of 16 Air Assault Brigade for eight years and to have the opportunity to conduct such challenging training within the British Army's premier intervention and raiding formation."

PA

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