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UK and Kuwaiti recce forces build skills together

The eyes and ears of the British Army’s Global Response Force have shared their skills with their Kuwaiti counterparts during demanding training in the desert.

Some 100 troops from 16 Air Assault Brigade Combat Team deployed to Kuwait to provide specialist training to the Kuwaiti Land Force’s 4th Reconnaissance Battalion on Exercise Desert Warrior.   

Reconnaissance is a vital military capability, with troops operating behind enemy lines to gather information needed to inform mission planning. The more and better information commanders have about factors such as terrain, enemy forces and the civilian population, the better their plan with more chance of success.  

Led by Pathfinders, 16 Air Asslt BCT’s advance force, the troops deployed come from eight different units to provide a range of reconnaissance expertise. Key skills included patrolling, both on foot and in vehicles; observing enemy positions and logging information; marksmanship; casualty care; checking routes and bridges are suitable for troop movements; and using drones for surveillance.   

“Reconnaissance demands a different skillset and approach from soldiers.” Troop Commander

“Reconnaissance demands a different skillset and approach from soldiers,” a Pathfinders troop commander said. “For instance, we operate without immediate medical support so our medics need to be able to sustain a casualty for an extended period of time. 

“We’ve worked well with the Kuwaitis, who’ve trained hard and come on in leaps and bounds in the few weeks we’ve been together. It’s been a really positive experience - training others makes you think about what are the most important elements of your own skills.” 

This is the sixth time that Exercise Desert Warrior has taken place, demonstrating the UK’s strong relationship with Kuwait and work to develop its military capabilities and promote stability in the Middle East. 

4th Bn’s Captain Dhari Al-Azmi said: “We are privileged to have such a specialist unit as Pathfinders training with us and we’ve been focussed on making the most of this opportunity. We have learnt a lot about reconnaissance and how the British observe targets, move without being seen and how they would react to incidents.  

“The relationship between us has become like brothers - our troops speak some English and the British speak some Arabic, but we understand each other because we are all soldiers.” Captain Dhari Al-Azmi
Kuwaiti Land Forces

“The relationship between us has become like brothers - our troops speak some English and the British speak some Arabic, but we understand each other because we are all soldiers. As well as the training, we eat, talk, laugh, and play sport together.” 

For the British soldiers, the month-long exercise provides an opportunity to learn from the Kuwaiti troops’ greater experience of operating in the desert. As the Global Response Force. Colchester-based 16 Air Asslt BCT is held at very high readiness to respond to global crises and its troops must be ready to operate in any environment. 

Corporal Titus Kimani, of 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment, said: “The desert is a tough place to be a soldier. It’s hot; the ground is either rocky or sandy, which makes walking hard; and it’s flat with very little vegetation, so there isn’t much cover. The Kuwaitis have given us useful tips on how they operate. 

“What I’ve been most impressed by is the Kuwaitis’ bravery and how they always want to take the fight to the enemy. Courage is one of the British Army’s core values and, as paratroopers, not something we lack but I’m going to take back that desire to always push forward.”