Exercise Olive Grove
Our airborne forces are currently in Al-Quwayrah, Jordan carrying out some of the most professionally rewarding, sophisticated and testing military exercises ever undertaken. The arid, austere, unyielding landscape and fierce heat provide the perfect environment to prove skills learned and test them against worst case scenarios.
B Company Group, from the 3rd Battalion the Parachute Regiment (3 PARA), working with 7 (Para) Royal Horse Artillery, and other elements of 16 Air Assault Brigade, were chosen to partner with the Jordanian forces from 2 Company, 81st Battalion of the Mohammed bin Zayed (MbZ) Quick Reaction Force (QRF) for Exercise Olive Grove.
The Jordanian soldiers of the QRF are natural partners for the elite soldiers of the Parachute Regiment and 16 Brigade. Their knowledge of operations within this environment has been a learning experience for every member of the Company group. Both nations have worked hard together to bridge the language barriers and bond as soldiers. Throughout, we have sought to train like we would never have the chance to come back, but partner like we would never leave. Major Richard Thorburn, Officer Commanding, B Company, 3 PARA
This is a Land Warfare sponsored Overseas Training Exercise whose focus on partnering, interoperability and light infantry (Air Assault) specific training will dramatically benefit both nation’s forces.
It has been a perfect complement to the work already demonstrated by the 2nd Battalion the Parachute Regiment at the start of the Jordanian deployment, where they proved their lightning efficiency at getting troops into country through Joint Force Entry.
16 Brigade’s ability to rapidly conduct operations anywhere in the world uses forces already in country to maximise available combat power. Exercises such as these help establish and develop partnerships with Host Nation forces so that when the situation demands they have an immediately effective, ready and integrated coalition in place to deal with eventualities.
There is already a strong operational bond between 16 Brigade and the Jordanian QRF. At the tactical level the integration of Jordanian and UK elements through a demanding training progression has proved a demonstrative success.
Planning and executing Aviation operations against limited time constraints, carrying out offensive and defensive operations by both day and night, as well as live fire tactical manoeuvres, have tested and proven these bonds even more.
For some members of the company, this is their first overseas deployment. The desert terrain, elevation and heat have all tested each individual in their own way. The majestic landscape provides challenges of manoeuvre, offers marked advantage to the defender, and tried all their capabilities. This is an excellent environment to test procedures as well as new equipment, especially as 16 Brigade modernises within its new role as a Global Response Force.
Challenging Training and building relationships
As well as the tactical understanding, each member of the company has been exposed to new ideas, challenges, risks and failures that enable us to collectively develop and train harder. Importantly, the exposure to different cultures has been formulaic for young soldiers whose experience of the wider world is growing and they are better soldiers for it.
Deliberate live urban assault and trench clearance, including grenades, following an aviation insertion, will likely stand out to most as the key memorable point, that, and the lived experience of intense and visceral warfare which the exercise provided. Captain Brenden Joyce , Company Second-in-Command, B Company, 3 PARA
As the world becomes more complex and unpredictable, partnered activity, and the creation of the new Ranger Regiment in the recent Defence Integrated Review, shows the priority which building these relationships has to our future success.
The Chief of the Defence Staff visited the troops on the exercise and, reassured, commended their efforts. That recognition and endorsement is important. While the exercise demonstrated credible support to our Jordanian allies, this enduring relationship is central to the application of strategic effect now and in the future in the region.
B Company, 3 PARA
B Company, 3 PARA is unique for having the Independent Guards Parachute Platoon in its ranks. It is formed by members of the Household Division who have passed the arduous All Arms Pre-Parachute Selection process to serve in 16 Brigade and have earned their ‘wings’ (the distinctive badge worn by parachute trained soldiers).
The Parachute Regiment serves as the core of the UK’s very high readiness response force and was recognised in the recent Integrated Review for Its unique ability within Defence for its ability to project mass at scale and speed. Within 16 Brigade this will become the Global Response Force; a highly mobile combined arms grouping that is useful, usable and used.