The potent combination of airborne infantry and heavy armour has come together to practise for urban operations.
3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment has joined forces with the Challenger 2 main battle tanks of The Queen’s Royal Hussars for Exercise Green Citadel. The paratroopers practised using tanks for protection and fire support while fighting street-by-street and building-by-building through the mock village at Copehill Down on Salisbury Plain.
3 PARA’s Major Dave Mans said: “This has been a really productive experience and the more training we can do in different environments and working alongside different capabilities, such as armour, the better. It makes us much more flexible and able to deal with any operation we could be faced with. As an airborne unit, theatre entry is our speciality but we could see armour arriving quickly on an operation and we have to know how to work alongside them.”
We’ve all got each other’s backs Trooper David Yendell
Built-up areas are a complex and testing environment to fight in and soak up time, manpower and equipment. Every room in every building has to be cleared to avoid leaving enemy troops behind the front line, while the presence of civilians restricts the ability to use overwhelming firepower.
Having the skills and confidence to operate in towns and cities is a vital skill for Colchester-based 3 PARA as the lead infantry unit in the Air Assault Task Force, which is ready to deploy anywhere in the world at short notice to conduct the full range of military operations. 3 PARA took on the AATF role this month, with the unit’s airborne infantry bolstered by artillery, engineers, signallers, medics and logisticians from 16 Air Assault Brigade.
Lance Corporal James Porter said: “This has been very real training, as urban operations closely relate to the warfare we’re seeing around the world now and what we could be called on to do. Working with tanks is something very different for us and we are relishing the challenge. It’s been interesting to see how we could fight together; we’re all soldiers and there’s a mutual respect for each other’s skills.”
Trooper David Yendell, a Challenger 2 operator with Paderborn-based QRH, said: “It’s been very interesting and valuable to train in a close urban environment with the paratroopers. In a tank rolling along a city street we’re a huge target, and infantry can protect us by keeping the enemy at a distance as much as we give them cover - we’ve all got each other’s backs.”