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Full range of Future Soldier intent on display in Cyprus

Soldiers from the British Army’s Global Response Force are conducting Joint Theatre Entry (JTE) parachuting exercises with the UK’s world-class air and maritime support on its shoulder.

The exercises, with the Jordanian Armed Forces, have linked in with the Carrier Strike Group (CSG) as it transitions from the Mediterranean to the Indian Ocean on Operation Fortis.

The troops, from 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment (2 PARA), have been finessing a number of mission rehearsals in Cyprus and spearheading the Lead Assault Force elements, including 7 Parachute Regiment Royal Horse Artillery, 23 Parachute Engineer Regiment, signallers, logistics, medics and various other British Army units. 

The UK Defence sovereign bases on the island maintain a permanent military presence in the Eastern Mediterranean, helping to support regional security and allowing force projection when needed.

“We are testing what it means to move at scale and mass or, what could be described as the speed of relevance." Brigadier James Martin, Commander 16 Air Assault Brigade

2 PARA comes under 16 Air Assault Brigade, based in Colchester, and is the most deployable and ready formation in the British Army.

“The UK’s CSG is a very exciting capability,” said Brigadier James Martin, Commander 16 Air Assault Brigade.

“In an expeditionary setting it can enable the brigade’s ability to manoeuvre by providing world-class air and maritime support at reach, thereby maximising the brigade’s potential.

 “As a central component of the UK’s Global Response Force, 16 Brigade’s air manoeuvre operations and the CSG’s operations are mutually supporting.”

The Pathfinders, trained in specialist airborne insertion techniques and capable of conducting offensive action tasks at very short notice, are the advance force for 16 Air Assault Brigade and already completed a tactical high-altitude drop from 12,000 feet days before. Their key role is identifying drop zones and landing zones where the main body of troops can be parachuted in at lower altitudes.

Brigadier Martin said: “We are testing what it means to move at scale and mass or, what could be described as the speed of relevance. It allows the UK to be more competitive and able to better respond to crises, in a timely manner.

“It is very much complementary with other aspects of the Future Soldier model, including a persistent forward global presence, reinforcing and enhancing wherever required.”

Jordan is a key partner for the UK in the region. The joint exercise demonstrates the UK’s commitment to Jordan and to regional stability.

Brigadier Martin said: "This is an excellent opportunity to enhance the already very strong relationship we have with the Jordanian Armed Forces on what is the country's centenary year."

All troops deployed to Cyprus have to follow stringent health protection measures and prove negative tests when arriving, in tandem with Cypriot and local military requirements.

“As the British Army’s Very High Readiness brigade we have had to remain ready to operate throughout the pandemic,” said Brigadier Martin.

“That means continuing to conduct all our normal training serials, validations and operations. As such, we have become proficient at operating safely with force health protection measures in place.”

Major General Rob Thomson CBE DSO, Commander British Forces Cyprus, said it was a "good, busy summer" with the 2nd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment already on the island as the resident battalion.

"We’ve always projected force from Cyprus but what we’re seeing here with 16 Brigade is fantastic because they’ve come forward, have been training hard on the ranges and getting themselves absolutely right to conduct a Joint Theatre Entry exercise with the Jordanians, so that’s really exciting when you factor in the support of the Carrier Strike Group as it comes through the Eastern Mediterranean.

"Cyprus is incredibly important as it offers the UK a strategic advantage because of its position in the south east corner of the continent, offering force projection globally and support to UK operations and coalition operations around the world."