Some 120 paratroopers from 'A' Company, 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment are being introduced to the challenges of operating in a mountainous environment on Exercise Mediterranean Pathways. The training is preparing paratroopers to be able to operate in any environment for their role as the British Army’s airborne rapid reaction force.
After being introduced to climbing kit, knots and techniques, the soldiers moved into the high mountains to apply what they had been taught. The paratroopers roped up to ascend, traverse and abseil on the rugged granite peaks around the Col de Vergio.
Corsica is a tough environment with steep mountains and hard ground underfoot Lance Corporal Lewis Alexander
Lieutenant James Robson, 24 from Newcastle, said: “As a high readiness force it’s important that we can operate in any environment that we may be sent to. Mountains are popular area for insurgents to base themselves in, because it’s inhospitable terrain that’s easy to defend and regular forces may be reluctant to pursue them into. This training is giving us the skills to find the enemy and defeat them.
“The key to operating in the mountains is having confidence, to trust the equipment and that everyone is working together for each other’s safety. Paratroopers have that attitude in large measures, and the blokes have really enjoyed this different challenge.”
Across the two-week exercise paratroopers will test and adapt their navigation, fire and manoeuvre, fieldcraft and navigation skills to the demands of operating in the mountains.
“I’ve climbed on an indoor wall before, but it’s something else to come out into the mountains and climb using military equipment. We’ve gone through the basic skills needed to climb safely, and then put that into practice in the mountains. We’ve climbed cliffs, putting gear into cracks to fix ropes for safety, and then finished with a 70m abseil.”
The exercise is using training areas belonging to 2 PARA’s French partner 2e Regiment Etranger de Parachutistes (2e REP). The British and French soldiers joined together for 2e REP’s celebration of St Michael’s Day, the patron saint of paratroopers.
As the Airborne Combined Joint Expeditionary Force (ACJEF), 16 Air Assault Brigade and 11e Brigade Parachutiste maintain an operational partnership which stands at high readiness to deploy on contingency operations ranging from war fighting to disaster relief.