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Army Reservists celebrate 50th birthday in style

The Queen's Own Yeomanry (QOY) got to grips with the Jackal platform across Cumbria and North Yorkshire in time for the 50th anniversary of the unit's formation.

The QOY, a Light Cavalry unit based across the North of England, have been training to use one of the workhorses of the British Army's vehicle fleet.

The Reservists, who will celebrate 50 years of service on 1 Apr 21, were taught how to command and fire from the Jackal, which is currently in use by the Light Dragoons in Mali.

Practices involved the use of the L7A2 General Purpose Machine Gun (GPMG), which can lay down suppressive fire onto targets up to 1,800m away.

The platform is able to handle cross-country terrain with ease, while its open design affords a high degree of visibility for its operators.

The best thing about being in the QOY is the amount of opportunities that can arise. Trooper Daniel Petho

And those operators include Trooper Daniel Petho, who lauded the chance to put the skills he has learnt in civilian life to good use.

He said: "I'm a mental fitness coach. When we're about to engage the targets, the adrenaline starts pumping around the body. One technique that I use is [controlled] breathing. I'll close my eyes for a couple of seconds, which allows you to step back mentally, and then re-engage."

Enthusiastic and capable soldiers, like Trooper Petho, are the heartbeat of the Army Reserve, which is set to have an even more prominent role in UK-based operations as part of the Future Soldier programme.

However, just as important to units such as the QOY being able to sustain tempo for 50 years is the goodwill of civilian employers across the UK.

It is vital that employees are afforded time to complete their mandatory Reservist training every year, which amounts to 27 days for most units.

And with an exercise utilising the Jackals in Germany around the corner, Trooper Petho is excited about what the future holds.

He said: "The best thing about being in the QOY is the amount of opportunities that can arise. [This includes] adventurous training and overseas exercises - like Sava Star [in Croatia] in 2019. It is all about having a good, understanding employer."