Midlands soldiers on desert exercise

Eighty-nine soldiers from the Midlands and North West are currently on a desert exercise with their counterparts from the Jordanian Armed Forces on Exercise Olive Grove. 

The exercise saw the troops from A (Grenadier) Company, 2nd Battalion The Mercian Regiment (2 Mercian) deploy to Al Quwayrah in Jordan on 14 January and run until 6 February, when the soldiers will return to their base in Cyprus.

The training builds the British and Jordanian troops’ readiness for operations in the demanding conditions of the desert and shares each other’s skills.

Major Mike Brigham MBE, Officer Commanding A (Grenadier) Company 2 Mercian, said:

“I’ve had 25 new soldiers join the Battalion who have never been overseas with the Army, other than Cyprus where we are based, and this is their first experience of an arid environment."

“We have to be ready to deploy anywhere across the globe. This environment is exactly what our soldiers need to be training in.”

The troops have been trained in trench and urban operations while a joint live fire demonstration was the highlight of a distinguished visitors’ day on 28 January.

When not taking part in arduous military training, the soldiers have enjoyed cultural trips to Petra, Wadi Rum and the Dead Sea and have taken part in sporting competitions with their Jordanian colleagues.

The troops have also repaired and decorated a community centre for refugees from Syria run by the UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency.

Lance Corporal Archie Galbraith, 25, from Stoke-on-Trent, said:

“We are trained to expect anything and to be ready to overcome it. We will work with anyone who joins the Battalion and make them a better soldier.

“It’s been enjoyable training alongside and socialising with the Jordanian soldiers. The Brits have proven to be the better footballers but the Jordanians have been the better dancers!”