The Warfighter exercise, run by the US Army, tests the ability to plan and conduct large-scale modern combat operations in a realistic multi-domain simulation. Since 2017 the UK’s 3rd Division has taken part every two years.
This year was the first time that a French Division also took part in Warfighter, and a UK brigade was integrated into a US Division, forming a multi-national warfighting Corps.
The exercise, which included over 17,000 troops, contractors and senior military advisors was hailed a “training success” by United States Army Lieutenant General Pat White, Commanding General III Corps, who led the troops.
More than 1,300 soldiers from the 3rd (UK) Division as well as the 7th Infantry Brigade deployed to two military bases in Texas; Fort Hood and Fort Bliss. They were joined by troops from 3e Division of the French Army and 1 (United States) Armoured Division.
The three divisions took part in the multi-national training to test their readiness to deploy on high-intensity warfighting operations. This would enable them to respond if a conflict broke out globally.
Brigadier Paul Tennant, who visited during Exercise Warfighter, said, “The British Army collaborates with the US Army on many exercises, and all of them play an important part in perpetuating the extraordinarily close relationship between the two. But Warfighter is the biggest, the most complex, the most demanding and the most important. It is the one which tests the most fundamental skills of the warfighting division and support to it was my number one priority for the year.”
“Professionalism and Preparation”
Preparations for the exercise started almost a year ago and included a lecture series featuring former retired 3 and 4-star Generals from the UK and US militaries, and the validation exercise, Ex CERBERUS, held on Salisbury Plain.
During the final review, US Army Lieutenant General Pat White explained how these preparations led to a successful exercise. He said: “The professionalism and preparation our United Kingdom and French allies brought to Fort Hood was impressive and absolutely instrumental to our training success.”
Whilst COVID-19 created several challenges for the Warfighter deployment, the force overcame these, enforcing strict social distancing guidelines, house holding and conducting lateral flow testing for everyone deployed twice a week.
“It’s quite an achievement”
The United Kingdom’s ‘Iron Division’ worked closely with its Allies on successful collaboration and fully functioning integration. This integration will be emulated in the future.
“It’s quite an achievement […]” said General James McConville, Chief of Staff of the US Army. “This is one of the largest exercises we’ve ever done of this type in the United States, and we had two countries coming to the U.S. during this challenging period.”
“I’m very proud of what they did. They overcame some significant obstacles to include COVID and because of their untiring efforts they were able to produce a world class exercise that makes us a stronger Army; and quite frankly makes us a stronger ally and partner with two very important partners and allies.”
Brigadier Paul Tennant said, “It was hugely successful, testament not only to the enormous skill and energy of the divisional headquarters, but also to the cumulative value of successive iterations of the exercise. Its benefits are felt most immediately in the reputational enhancement both to the British Army and the UK more broadly. In turn, its success feeds directly into the credibility of our respective armed forces and their deterrent effect.”