Exercise Iron Challenge Puts Soldiers in a Different Class

Over 200 Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) soldiers, drawn from 41 different units, have recently taken part in Exercise Iron Challenge 21, aimed at enhancing their trade knowledge and skills and giving them the opportunity to take their army career to the next level.

The Technical Training Exercise was delivered by instructors from 3 Armoured Close Support Battalion REME on behalf of 3rd (United Kingdom) Division – the Army’s Iron Division, and saw trainees from six different trade groups; Vehicle Mechanics, Recovery Mechanics, Armourers, Metalsmiths, Electronics Technicians and Technical Support Specialists (TSS), converge on Longmoor Training Camp in Hampshire to develop the basic skills commonly used in their day to day duties.

Working to the Students Technical Proficiency Development Booklet (TPDB) which is the Army’s specialist trade syllabus, successful students were able to be upgraded from Trade Class 3 to 2, in a matter of weeks and not the 12 months it would take to get to the next stage in their trade progression at unit level. Throughout the consolidated three-week period many students were able to complete up to 90% of their TPDB training objectives.

Warrant Officer 2nd Class (WO2) James Best was the Technical Support Specialist Trade lead, he said: “Iron Challenge 2021 has been the ideal opportunity for all TSS students to gain a thorough knowledge of the TSS trade. Covering all aspects of the TPDB, they leave having achieved Trade Class 2.”

Instructors also made use of the Virtual Learning Environment to carry out lessons and deliver assessments. Innovative techniques were demonstrated utilising drones to aid the recovery of stricken vehicles by the Recovery Mechanics and also by using a bespoke custom built Metalsmithing Training Cube.

The Cube which was built by REME metalsmiths to allow training of all basic metalsmithing job types in one place. Each face of the cube has fixtures and fittings that can be used to practice a number of jobs including stud extraction, thread repair, manufacture techniques, fuel tank repair, radiator repair, water vessel repair and weld repair using various welding techniques.

This training aid is being continually developed, with plans to make it suitable to train fuel, brake and hydraulic pipe repair as well as track cutting using oxy-acetylene and plasma cutting. 

I am proud to be giving a better, more rounded soldier back to the field force Sgt Paul Cunliffe, Armourer Trade Lead

In the final week, students also carried out Battle Craft Syllabus training in the form of a navigation competition and had the opportunity for cross trade exposure training. Students also attended briefs and lessons designed to enhance their wider understanding, as well as building their knowledge and confidence.

The numbers attending, mainly Class 3 REME Tradesmen from units across the UK, marked a 390% increase from 2020’s exercise and by the end of the exercise over 20 thousand hours of training had been given by the training delivery team made up of over 133 instructors.

WO2 Best summed up the three weeks by saying: “I have thoroughly enjoyed being part of the Trade Delivery Team and look forward to the Technical Training Exercise 2022”.