Soldiers from the 1st The Queen’s Dragoon Guards have been testing themselves in Cumbria ahead of a six month tour in the Baltics.
Personnel from C Squadron, 1st The Queen’s Dragoon Guards (QDG) this week took part in their penultimate training exercise before they travel to Poland as part of the UK contribution to NATO’s enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) deployment in support of Europe’s security.
A series of day and night exercises, in sub-zero temperatures on the demanding Warcop Training Area saw the reconnaissance squadron perform gruelling live-fire tests, both on foot and from the latest Jackal 2 vehicle.
This training has given me a better understanding of the role we’ll be doing in Poland L/Cpl Leuan Jones
The Jackal 2 weapons platform is designed to protect personnel against roadside explosions and mine attacks and is armed with a General Purpose Machine Gun for crew protection. It can also be fitted with either a Heavy Machine Gun or a Grenade Machine Gun.
The squadron is due to deploy in the Spring and will succeed Mustang Troop (A Squadron) The Light Dragoons as part of the United States, 1st Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment Battlegroup. The US-led Poland battlegroup is one of four NATO multinational battlegroups deployed in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland on a persistent, rotational basis.
‘C’ Squadron Leader, Major Ben Parkyn, said: “We are deploying at the request of the Polish Government, as part of NATO, to act a deterrent against any potential hostile activity whilst providing reassurance to our NATO allies.”
He continued: “Working with our US allies is nothing new for the squadron having trained alongside them twice; on Exercise DIAMONDBACK in California in 2016 and 2017.
“It is a great opportunity and another fantastic learning experience. For many of our junior soldiers it will be the first time they will have deployed and worked to a different command structure which will see them tested on how they integrate and communicate. For our attached Royal Artillery, Royal Engineers, Royal Signals Intelligence Corps and Royal Logistics, it will also be an opportunity for us to demonstrate our interoperability and overall tactical capability. The Light Dragoons have done a fantastic job over this last year I am very proud to lead the squadron and its attached arms on this deployment.”
Amongst those deploying is Lance Corporal Leuan Jones (22) from Abersychan in South Wales. He has served for five years and trained in Germany, Kenya and California. He works on the Jackal as a communications operator and vehicle gunner.
Leuan said: “My father was in the Paras so serving in the Army is a family tradition. This training has given me a better understanding of the role we’ll be doing in Poland to reassure the population. I’m really looking forward to working with Polish and US forces as part of NATO.
“The training has been really good. It’s definitely a step up. The Jackals are really good and very manoeuvrable; the weapons are top notch and you won’t get any better training.”
Sergeant Owain Rhys Davies (32) who has served in Afghanistan, Iraq and Sierra Leone said: “I’ve worked with the Jackals out in Afghanistan and it’s an amazing piece of kit, but this training has been all about learning how to defeat potential enemies in this new environment. I’m looking forward to getting to Poland and testing myself and our soldiers out there.”
The 1st Queen’s Dragoon Guards, also known as The Welsh Cavalry, is based at Robertson Barracks, Swanton Morley in Norfolk but recruits mainly from Wales, the Midlands and Border Counties (Shropshire, Herefordshire and Cheshire). Its role is primarily reconnaissance, finding the enemy, and understanding the area in which they operate. It is one of the most operationally-experienced regiments in the British Army.