Rioters’ fire and fury tests paratroopers

Paratroopers have faced the fire and fury of a hostile crowd as they prepare for global operations.

The soldiers of 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment (3 PARA) were confronted with a barrage of petrol bombs, missiles and abuse during public order training at Lydd Ranges in Kent.

Simulated riots on Exercise Green Fray tested the teamwork, discipline and courage of the Colchester-based paratroopers as they practised how to work together to defend each other and drive back unruly crowds.

British troops have had to tackle riots on recent operations in Sierra Leone, Kosovo and Iraq. Crowd control is a key skill required by 3 PARA in its current role as the lead infantry unit in the Air Assault Task Force, which is held ready to deploy anywhere in the world at short notice to conduct the full range of military operations.

after having missilies, petrol bombs and a lot of verbal abuse thrown at us we’re ready for anything! Trooper Alexander Grinstead

Trooper Alexander Grinstead, of 3 PARA’s Guards Parachute Platoon, said: “A riot is a really noisy and stressful environment, and it’s a valuable experience to have been exposed to it - after having missilies, petrol bombs and a lot of verbal abuse thrown at us we’re ready for anything!

“To establish control, we have to work together and make sure you look after the guy next to you.

It’s important – but a real challenge – to keep your calm and match the aggression that’s presented to you, so as not to worsen the situation.”