The Queen’s Own Yeomanry can usually be observed tending to their Jackal vehicle on tank parks throughout the North of England, but they went back to basics this September by putting boots on the ground under the searing Balkan sun.
The Light Cavalry Reservists deployed a company of troops to Croatia’s Knin Training Area to take part in Exercise Sava Star, which also featured personnel from the host nation and the US over the course of the 14-day deployment.
The three-country alliance, all members of NATO, worked on skills such as patrolling during day and night, setting up harbour areas and battlefield casualty drills, with the training package culminating in a final dawn attack on ‘enemy’ forces.
Light Cavalry is all about mindset, mobility and communications Lt Col Pennett, Commanding Officer
Commanding Officer (CO) Lt Col Pennett was delighted with the way the Eastern European adventure progressed: “This provides endless opportunities to challenge troops; to work together with Croatian forces in such a different environment is a real gem.
“It isn’t just about the exercising troops in the wood line; getting us here, driving through six different countries, medical support - we have to consider the regiment as a whole.
“The key characteristic of being a Yeoman is the willingness to fight and Light Cavalry is all about mindset, mobility and communications. Naturally reservists can’t give 100% of their time but when they do, I expect 100%,” he added.
The CO was not alone in praising the exercise, which formed this year’s Annual Continuous Training (ACT) package for the soldiers; young officers such as 2Lt Palmer Price were also keen to highlight the worth of deploying overseas.
“As a leader, the ability to integrate British and Croatian forces and work on tactics, techniques and procedures (TTPs) while developing our own soldiers is what I will take away from this,” said the C Squadron subaltern.
“The benefits are seeing the differences in tactics and understanding how our allies might carry out a certain operation, but at the same time contributing to their TTPs by helping people through as we do in our own Army.”
The development witnessed on the exercise was all the more credible considering one very important factor – the soaring temperatures during the day. Tpr Leeson of B Squadron explained: “It’s been hot. It’s been tough. Heat makes it ten times harder. But I enjoy being out of my comfort zone and helping the boys through it while they help me. My personal highlights have been getting out to a different place and meeting new people – the Croatians have been spot on with me.”
While the deployment to the Balkans represents a significant date in the QOY calendar, it is far from the only exciting activity the unit will be undertaking over what remains of the year. “I hope to take a team out to South Africa for a patrols competition and work with my
own Troop on getting qualified on the Jackal platform,” said 2Lt Palmer Price.