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British soldiers assume control of Exercise Saber Junction 21

Staff from Bulford-based HQ 3rd (UK) Division have deployed to a United States Army training facility in Hohenfels, Germany, to take part in Exercise Saber Junction 21, a multi-national exercise involving over 4,000 troops from 14 nations.

The exercise is a US Joint Multinational Readiness Centre validation exercise for 2nd (US) Cavalry Regiment (2 CR) and the 1st Combat Aviation Brigade (1CAB), of 1st (US) Infantry Division. 

The exercise will put the two brigades through a series of arduous missions across the Bavarian training area, the largest US training facility in Europe, to certify them for high readiness tasks across the European and African theatres.

It also aims to promote interoperability with the 14 participating allied and partner nations. This year, the exercise will be led by a 50 strong team from Headquarters 3rd (UK) Division, the first time a non-US Division has been put in charge of validating a US brigade.

Lieutenant Colonel James Coleby, SO1 G3 Chief of the 3rd (UK) Division headquarters for Exercise Saber Junction 21, said: “The exercise prepares 2CR and 1CAB for readiness and Warfighting tasks across Europe and North Africa.

"As we are the Army’s principal two-star deployable headquarters, the Division is able to provide command and control over the full range of military activities, integrated with our NATO allies. The exercise focuses on preparing the brigades for warfighting missions, which is at heart of the UK transformed warfighting capability.”

Asked what success for the exercise would look like, he said: “The exercise maintains the Army’s working relationship with a key strategic partner and the Division's ability to integrate fully with NATO allies and European partners."

"This is a key component of NATO readiness and essential as the Division builds up to Defender 22 and the NATO Readiness Initiative with the 3rd (UK) Division having three battle groups optimised for Warfighting exercises in Europe in 2022. It also provides a staff training environment in which we can continue to learn and practice.”

Explaining the Division's role in the exercise, Lt Col Coleby said: “The Division is providing the higher headquarters command and integrating the different multi-national elements that are exercising on the ground, and also those being simulated. It is of course an honour to be asked to provide the first non-US Division and the exercise enhances the close relationship between the US and UK forces. It shows our shared commitment to enhancing security and prosperity in Europe.”

Soldiers from Edinburgh based 3 RIFLES have also deployed to the exercise and will be embedded with 2 CR for the duration, operating from the Stryker wheeled armoured vehicle.

We continually trains for large scale global operations with the US and NATO Allies. Warfighting remains the cornerstone of deterrence and the bedrock of the British Army.

2CR is one of the oldest Regiments in the US. Founded in 1836, it is now a Brigade Combat Team consisting of 5,000 troops equipped with the highly mobile Stryker and modern hi-tech support forces. It has deployed on numerous operations and participated in Exercise Defender Europe in May this year which included an Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Company also from 3 RIFLES.

The regiment is used to working closely with British Forces, with a UK reconnaissance squadron rolling out with 2 CR from their home in Vilseck, Germany when the regiment provided the framework unit to NATO’s enhanced Forward Presence initiative in Poland.