A combined force of French and British soldiers carried out a simulated attack on an enemy compound in a vast underground complex beneath a Wiltshire town.
The simulated attack was part of Exercise Wessex Storm - a six-week exercise on Salisbury Plain involving over 2,500 soldiers led by 7th Infantry Brigade (The Desert Rats).
Soldiers from the French unit 4RMT, Régiment de Marche du Tchad, operated as part of the 1 Royal Irish battlegroup throughout the exercise, providing them with an additional company of light infantry.
“Each day we learnt interesting and different ways of working together, honing our interoperability. I learnt a lot about high intensity warfare on the exercise and we want to recreate its realism in our own exercises in the future.” Captain Boris, Officer Commanding 4RMT, Régiment de Marche du Tchad
The complex tunnel system was once a facility for the potential relocation of the government in times of crisis during the 1950s. Today parts of it are used for training military personnel where they can test their close quarters combat and subterranean tactics, techniques and procedures to deal with threats in dark and tight environments.
The tunnel training scenario saw the French and British soldiers working in small teams to hold and clear the network of corridors and rooms against enemy forces who countered using simulated munitions.
It was the conclusion of the six-week exercise that started with live-fire training for the French to introduce them to the British Army training procedures. The exercise built up to a demanding simulated mission that tested the core soldiering skills needed to live and fight for long periods of time. It was a powerful demonstration of how the two units from different countries can go side-by-side into battle as a joint task force.
Captain Boris, Officer Commanding 4RMT, Régiment de Marche du Tchad, said: “Each day we learnt interesting and different ways of working together, honing our interoperability. I learnt a lot about high intensity warfare on the exercise and we want to recreate its realism in our own exercises in the future.”
Throughout the first half of the exercise, the soldiers used the Tactical Engagement System-equipment (TES), which provides realistic and accurate information on the effect of battle on personnel. The system helps commanders to assess and review tactics, group movements and identify areas for improvement.
The exercise provided an opportunity for British and French Army personnel to work together on urban operations. It means they are now better prepared to respond together to international crises.
Brigadier JJ de Quincey Adams (Jasper), Commander of 7th Infantry Brigade, said:” We were very lucky to have the French military augmenting the 1st Battalion Royal Irish with us on the exercise. It demonstrates the incredible relationship we have developed with the French over the last couple of decades.
“The exercise was the perfect way to test our interoperability in terms of tactics and procedures. The French military showed us alternative ways of working. and challenged some of the logic that we would normally bring to the fight. It was hugely powerful and demonstrated that when we work together, we’re a much stronger force when we are shoulder to shoulder with our allies.”
The exercise validated the British units that together form the Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF) Light Brigade, demonstrating their fitness for future operations. The units led by 7th Infantry Light Brigade will act as the Army element of the Joint Expeditionary Force for the next 12-months and are ready to deploy at short notice to move anywhere in the world to deal with a crisis.