Europe, the US and Canada join key NATO exercise in UK

British soldiers have joined multinational units from across Europe and North America at Duke of Gloucester Barracks in South Cerney, RAF Fairford and Imjin Barracks, Gloucestershire, for Exercise LOYAL LEDA 2020, a key NATO exercise to validate the Allied Rapid Reaction Corps (ARRC), based in Gloucester.

Ex LOYAL LEDA, which draws to a close this week, is a key element of evaluating the ARRC’s readiness and certifying the headquarters at Full Operating Capability (FOC), which will see the ARRC qualify as NATO’s first war-fighting corps headquarters at readiness since the Cold War.

Part of the three-week-long exercise has seen divisions from four nations presenting their plans to control virtual forces within a computer simulator, using digital ‘pucksters’. This generates realistic actions and reactions of friendly and enemy forces to test the headquarters’ ability to command and control up to 120,000 troops. 

The Corps is being tested using a longstanding NATO scenario. This presents a fictional but realistic peer state adversary contesting NATO in all five domains, including space, and creating complex challenges for the exercise’s 1200 participants.

While collaboration and interoperability with multinational units is key, the exercise will also test innovative concepts and technologies, to modernise the headquarters and support future real-world UK Defence and NATO requirements.

The experimentation program and concepts being developed include ‘operating dispersed’ across a number of sites, making it harder for an enemy to find and target command post locations, and new equipment and technologies to make the headquarters smaller and more agile. [IMAGE ExLoyalLeda10 ASM visit] 

Divisions supporting the exercise include 1 (US) Cavalry Division, 1 (CAN) Division, 3 (UK) Division and NATO’s Multi-National Division South East in Romania. The United States Army Europe (USAREUR) based in Germany is providing other control cells for the ARRC’s Corps troops, include the US 2nd Cavalry Regiment, 12th Combat Aviation Brigade and the US 41st Field Artillery Brigade. 

His Royal Highness Prince Charles undertook a socially distanced visit. The exercise will culminate with the Combat Readiness Evaluation (CREVAL) ceremony, presided over by Commander LANDCOM, General Roger L Cloutier Jr, and visits from several high-profile military officers including:

·      SACEUR - Supreme Allied Commander Europe, General Tod D. Wolters

·      DSACEUR - Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe, General Tim Radford

·      CDS - Chief of Defence Staff, General Sir Nick Carter

·      COM USAEUR - Commander US Army Europe, General Christopher Cavoli

·      COM JFC Brunssum - Commander Allied Joint Force Command Brunssum, General Jörg Vollmer

·      CGS - Chief of General Staff, General Sir Mark Carleton-Smith

·      CFA - Commander Field Army, General Ivan Jones

COVID-19 testing pilot

Personnel and visitors to exercise LOYAL LEDA, are taking part in an NHS Test and Trace pilot for the government’s mass testing programme, are being tested using ‘lateral flow antigen tests’, which provide rapid results. The pilot seeks to understand how best to utilise this new technology at scale. [IMAGE ExLoyalLeda20 covid testing

Testing is just one element of a comprehensive COVID-19 plan for the exercise. A force protection working group, established at the onset of the pandemic, developed a detailed risk assessment for the UK deployment and layers of risk mitigation measures.

The ARRC is working with local Health Protection Teams as well as Defence Public Health to deliver safe and effective care for our personnel whilst protecting the public.

What is ARRC?

Headquarters Allied Rapid Reaction Corps (HQ ARRC) is the UK’s largest land contribution to NATO and provides a rapidly deployable, flexible headquarters that can act as a Joint, Land or Corps HQ for operations and crisis response. Its multi-national ethos, combination of cultures and innovation, strong professional reputation in NATO and proven operational record in interoperability are unique among its High Readiness Force (Land) peers.

Find out more here