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QDG take on Californian desert

27 September 2016

Troops are briefed during the exercise. For the British Army, Ex DIAMONDBACK 16 is the first of its kind. The deployment to California sees C Squadron of 1st The Queen’s Dragoon Guards attached to the US 3rd Armoured Brigade Combat Team (3 ABCT) of 1st Cavalry Division (1 CD) for their National Training Centre (NTC) Readiness Rotation.

NTC at Fort Irwin, California is deep in the Mojave desert and provides a unique opportunity for Light UK forces to work alongside Heavy Armoured US forces in a challenging and austere environment.

The main aim of the exercise is to test the interoperability between UK and US forces and follows on from three other UK dismounted infantry exercises run at the US Joint Readiness Training Centre.

C Sqn QDG will test UK-US: communications; tactical employment; and sustainment and the lessons identified will inform future exercises as well as NATO or coalition deployments within and outside of NATO’s borders.

Alongside the US 6-9 Cavalry Squadron, C Sqn will act as the Brigade’s reconnaissance group, hunting out the conventional enemy, insurgent and criminal groupings within the US Decisive Action Training Environment (DATE). The DATE scenario is asymmetric, adaptable and employs the full spectrum of capabilities found in contemporary conflicts.

It also includes Joint, Intra-governmental, Inter-agency and Multinational partners including a complex Host Nation Security Force all of which presents the simultaneous challenges and opportunities for collaboration and integration that recent operations have proved critical to understanding and succeeding in an unstable situation.

C Sqn’s JACKAL and COYOTE vehicles are optimised for the desert terrain and offer the US Bde commander a dynamic and rapidly employable capability alongside their formidable armoured assets. The Sqn will be tasked with finding the enemy, understanding the context and influencing the operating environment. These contemporary tasks will see the Sqn employed in their familiar reconnaissance role but the emphasis will shift to the understanding the human dynamics and employing innovative tools to influence both the key players and the audience.

An impresive line-up of UK vehicles in California.

Ex DIAMONDBACK delivers an unprecedented opportunity for C Sqn to test the emerging Light Cavalry Concept of Employment and will inform the UK’s development of Ex WESSEX STORM 17.

C Sqn are deployed with an Intelligence Officer from 2MI Bn, a Fire Support Team from 4th Regt RA, Engineers from 21 Engineer Regt, Royal Military Police from 110 Provo Coy 1RMP and Reserve soldiers from the Royal Yeomanry. Their Observer Mentors are from the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards and Land Warfare.

The additional benefit of the exercise to the UK is a Light Cavalry Sub Unit that is combat ready to deploy for current and future contingencies in addition to the UK trained Vanguard Force Elements and NATO’s Very High Readiness Joint Task Force 17.

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