Troops from 16 Air Assault Brigade and specialist units gathered on Salisbury Plain earlier this month to go through the drills and skills necessary for very-high-readiness deployment, anywhere in the world.
As part of the Global Response Force, soldiers from 16 Air Assault, along with troops from Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD), dog handling, and signals units spent four weeks training in realistic scenarios, including night assaults and urban operations.
Under Future Soldier, the Global Response Force is to be centred around an Air Manoeuvre Brigade Combat Team (BCT) and a newly established Combat Aviation BCT. They will be equipped with upgraded Apache and Chinook helicopters and integrated with strategic air transport from the RAF.
This force will measure its global response time in hours and days, with the versatility to deliver humanitarian to warfighting crisis response.
Much of the time was spent working on company-level training, with the chance to work alongside the RAF and become familiar with the A400M during a parachuted stores drop, known as a CDS, or container delivery system. The new aircraft will replace the C130, or the Hercules, which has been a familiar workhorse for soldiers for decades.
Drops of equipment from the back of the A400M from 800 ft were carried out, including quad bikes plus trailers - weighing about 2 tonnes - which deploy with their own parachutes and soft-landing material, to protect them on landing.
The exercise ensured that 16 Air Assault had all the skills and equipment ready for deployment.
Lieutenant Colonel Swann, Commanding Officer, 3 Parachute Regiment, said: “Readiness is a scale of response time so from a low readiness, to very high readiness, which means you can respond and have effect anywhere in the world in a relatively short period of time.”
“Readiness is a bit more than having our equipment ready, although that is a factor. We are personally ready to go – so medically ready to deploy – our vaccinations have to be in date, and we have to be physically fit. And that is important for this Brigade as I think that forms part of the ethos. Because readiness I believe is more than just those physical things, it’s also a conceptual thing – a state of mind.
“The UK has a Global Response Force so that we can respond to crises overseas. And that’s any kind of crisis; a non-combatant, or evacuation operations, humanitarian disaster relief operation, all the way through to major combat operations. The second reason we need a Global Response Force is our commitment to our NATO allies, because we wouldn’t just respond to crisis that would affect the UK, we could also respond to crisis as part of our obligations to NATO.
“16 Air Assault Brigade is absolutely the right formation to be in the Global Response Force. I think also the ethos of the Brigade – the Pegasus ethos – underpinned by its motto Ad Unum Omnes which means ‘All for one purpose’. I think it demonstrates that we as a formation are able to fight together regardless of our role, and you’re able to work together to create the effect that the UK needs to create, wherever in the world, at whatever time.”