1st Battalion The Royal Welsh, one of the British Army’s most experienced and most decorated armoured infantry units have recently completed the arduous Exercise Tallinn Dawn in Germany, the Mission Ready Exercise (MRX) that validates them to deploy as the battlegroup on the upcoming Operation Cabrit 10.
Operation Cabrit is the name of the UK operational deployment to Estonia and Poland where British troops are leading a multinational battlegroup as part of the enhanced Forward Presence (eFP).
UK Armed Forces have a leading role in NATO’s eFP in the Baltic States, in order to enhance Euro-Atlantic security, reassure our allies and deter our adversaries.
The eFP in the Baltic States is a deployment of robust, multinational, combat-ready forces to Estonia, and Poland, on a rotational basis.
Lieutenant Colonel Ru Streatfeild, Commanding Officer 1st Battalion The Royal Welsh reflects on Exercise Tallinn Dawn and the mood within his personnel as they take on their next role in Estonia:
“I think there’s a lot of excitement and probably a little bit of trepidation. They are a young battlegroup; I would say probably about 80 to 90 per cent weren’t even born at the time of the end of the Cold War so a lot don’t understand the context. But they get the sense of excitement and the sense of importance of what they are doing.”
The Welsh Warriors, some of them experiencing an overseas exercise for the first time, took to the vast Sennelager training area in Germany where they have taken on the role of battlegroup for Operation Cabrit 10. The exercise involved a mix of simulation, live-firing (day and night) field training exercises involving armour, infantry, artillery and engineers. Delay and hold serials were also carried out to trade space for time with a range of supporting capabilities fixed together to develop the level of competencies, capabilities and integration required.
After several weeks in Germany perfecting their skills and taking part in Exercise Gothic Dragon at unit level late in 2021, Lieutenant Colonel Streatfeild believes his personnel are well prepared for their next challenge in the Baltic nation:
“We take great pride in the fact that we’ve conducted a lot of training, not just here in Germany but really over the last year so this is the culmination of our training and we’re ready, that’s what we do as an Army. We’ve always wanted to be more useful more of the time, so being able to deploy at pace is an ultimate demonstration of that.”
They are a very tight knit family and for those who are a bit nervous or there is a bit of trepidation about what’s happening, there’s a lot of experience out there so they are looking after each other very well.”
Lieutenant Colonel Streatfeild is keen to point out that the battlegroup forms part of a much wider alliance:
“We take our responsibility to NATO very seriously a lot of good people are trying to do some contingency planning at the moment to respond to whatever we’ve been asked to do. We’ll have our Danish company attached to us but there will also be air assets, maritime assets and other Armies, other nations represented as part of a large exercise to test the readiness.”
And does he feel that carries extra responsibility on his shoulders during this tense time in eastern Europe?
“It is a big responsibility, but I feel very well supported by a good team and at every level people are looking out for each other and there’s much confidence in the battlegroup.”