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Iron Division’s 1 Armoured Infantry Brigade forges closer bonds with allies

235 soldiers from 1 Armoured Infantry Brigade (1 Armd Inf Bde), part of 3rd (UK) Division – the Iron Division - and elements of 1 and 6 (UK) Divisions, have returned from America after taking part in a live multinational experiment exercise focused on Multi-Domain Operations (MDOs).

Sponsored by the our Capability Directorate, the soldiers were the UK’s contribution to the Joint Warfighting Assessment 21 (JWA 21) which took the form of a Command Post Exercise (CPX) which saw the brigade working to the 4th (US) Division Headquarters and alongside brigade headquarters from 5th Canadian Mechanised Brigade and 7th Australia Combat Brigade.

JWA 21 was an opportunity for the America, Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand (ABCANZ) Army Program to develop standardisation and collaboration.

Brigadier Sam Humphris, Commander 1 Armd Inf Bde, said: “JWA 21 was a fantastic training opportunity to warfight alongside some of our closest allies. It was an exceptionally ambitious exercise, testing all layers and echelons, from national command authority down to brigade. 

We were able to assess future concepts and capabilities in concert with our US, Australian and Canadian partners, training in a US-led, Multi-National Division.

He added: “As such it represented an invaluable opportunity to be tested with an arsenal of both lethal and non-lethal future capabilities and concepts.  But although we were ‘fighting tomorrow’, we will also now be better at ‘fighting tonight’, because of the rich experience and because of the systematic way in which lessons were collected.”

Hosted in Fort Carson, Colorado, the exercise, which was the US Army’s largest annual live, multinational experiment, was set in the near future (2028) and had multiple aims.

At its core, JWA 21 provided an opportunity for the British Army to experiment with some new capabilities and concepts in a “safe to fail” environment; develop interrelations with some of our key allies and help inform the modernisation of our Army.

In addition to the future aspect of JWA 21, it also provided an excellent current training opportunity for 1 Armd Inf Bde to exercise its staff and develop its tactics, techniques and procedures as they look to embrace new capabilities in the near future.

Flight Lieutenant Valentina Klejnow, Air, HQ 1 Armd Inf Bde: “JWA 21 has been a fantastic opportunity for me as an Air Staff Officer to tune into 1 Armd Inf Bde’s expectations and requirements from an Air and Aviation perspective. It allowed me to feed back to the Air Component critical lessons and provide an opportunity to refine and shape their enabling functions that help shape, define and support the Land and Littoral aspects of the battlespace.

In addition to this, it’s been a great chance to fine tune interoperability with our international allies and counterparts to maximise effectiveness through collaborative effort.”

The future battlefield will be different and adversaries are already operating across all domains all of the time, including cyber and space, not just maritime, land and air and the opportunities to work closely with allies to continue to grow interoperability whilst experimenting with the employment of planned future capabilities has been invaluable.

At all levels, those on the exercise learnt from their multi-national colleagues to ensure the Multi-National Division was able to operate leveraging capabilities across all domains.

Sapper William Butler, 13 Geographic Squadron, 42 Engineer Regiment working in 1 Armd Inf Bde HQ for JWA said: “JWA 21 was a fantastic opportunity, it allowed Geographic technicians from both 1 Armd Inf Bde and 42 Engineer Regiment to exercise in a multi-national environment and better understand our ability to integrate with our NATO counterparts.”