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Royal Engineers tackle combat digging exercise

Reservist Army engineers from the West Midlands and Wales got down to some serious digging over the weekend at a military training camp in South Wales.

While the UK marked national Armed Forces Day on Saturday(26 June), troops from Oldbury-based 225 Field Squadron and Cwmbran-based 100 Field Squadron, Royal Monmouthshire Royal Engineers (Militia) carried out combat excavations during an intensive two-day training exercise at the Army’s Caerwent training area near Caldicott. 

Tractors, rollers, excavators and a dump truck were operated by the reservists, all plant operators for their Army unit, during Exercise Boars Dig.

“This type of training is key to ensuring that, when deployed alongside their regular counterparts, our reservists can add value to the task and are able to integrate easily." Captain Emily George, Support Troop Commander, 225 Field Squadron

The exercise was an opportunity for the soldiers to practice previously taught skills, operating such vehicles and equipment, while building their confidence and new skills in a different and challenging environment. 

At Caerwent the troops had to complete several demanding combat excavations, including digging a defensive pit for Class C vehicles such as a small truck, digging battle and anti-tank trenches, and building bunded structures for fuel storage installations. 

These are all tasks that the Army’s plant operators can be expected to deliver on operations or exercises world-wide. 

Captain Emily George, Support Troop Commander, 225 Field Squadron, said,

“This type of training is key to ensuring that, when deployed alongside their regular counterparts, our reservists can add value to the task and are able to integrate easily.

“Our plant operators come from a real mix of backgrounds. We have some who drive civilian plant for a living and others who come from completely different backgrounds such as tree surgeons and estates management.

“No matter how much or little experience you have, the Army Reserves can help a civilian become a fully trained plant operator without having an impact on a civilian career.” 

Royal Engineer recruits can learn a range of different trades: from fabricator to welder, electrician to plumber, or in air conditioning and refrigeration. All these trades equip recruits with skills and civilian recognised qualifications that will serve them through their military careers and beyond. These transferable skills are all valuable in the civilian world and make the soldier highly employable when they eventually leave the Army.

Royal Engineers are known as Sappers, multi-skilled soldiers, combat engineers and tradesmen. They provide essential support to all areas of Defence in peacetime and on operations. There are many specialised trades in the Royal Engineers open to males and females, including bomb disposal/search, armoured engineer, parachute engineer, commando royal engineer and royal engineer diver.

When completing combat engineer training, new recruits will gain the engineering knowledge needed to operate speed boats, handle explosives, build bridges, purify water, build fortifications and many other exciting tasks.

The Royal Monmouthshire Royal Engineers (Militia) is the senior Reserve Regiment of the British Army with unbroken service to the crown since 1539. The Regiment provides formed groups of Combat Engineer Reservists for operations in the UK and abroad.