1st Battalion The Royal Welsh (1 RWELSH) have swapped their home on Salisbury Plain, Wiltshire for the firing ranges and dense woodland exercise areas of Sennelager, Germany where they have been taking part in Exercise Tallinn Dawn, 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 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 alongside Danish, French, and host nation Estonian forces.
The Combat Ready Training Centre (CRTC) who are based in Germany oversees Exercise Tallinn Dawn with mentors and observers on the ground advising personnel. Tracking devices are fitted to troops and equipment which relays information to the Exercise Control room (Excon) where data on how the Battlegroup are performing is collated. The results from the information collected is then analysed to provide assessment and feedback of the Battlegroup’s performance.
1 RWELSH Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Ru Streatfeild explains:
“This validation exercise shows that we are good to go to Estonia as part of Operation Cabrit and ready to integrate with the Estonia Brigade as part of their defence plan. Whether mounted or dismounted all personnel and vehicles have to get to a point where they have proved that they are safe to operate and deploy”
The Welsh Warriors last visit to the NATO Forward Holding Base Sennelager near Paderborn was in late 2021 where they spent time honing their skills on Exercise Gothic Dragon. This time they have returned to the training area as the battlegroup taking part in their final pre-deployment training (PDT) which prepares them to take part in Operation Cabrit later in 2022. The exercise aims to validate the 1 Royal Welsh Battlegroup ensuring it can conduct planning for its personnel and sub-units that will operate alongside them in Estonia.
Captain Lucas Colley, Regimental Signals Officer,1 RWELSH said:
“We don’t get many opportunities to exercise as a Battlegroup but this has been very useful. We have come together and developed a lot of cohesion and a lot of shared understanding of how our capabilities can join and work in concert to engage with any adversaries.”
And he adds the Battalion have been working very closely with NATO colleagues:
“There are so many working parts that go into making the Battlegroup come together. Everything from logistics to communications needs to be ironed out as well as overcoming any language difficulties. We’ve had a lot of intense input from our Danish counterparts and we’re building a picture of how we are going to operate together once we are deployed out in Estonia.”
The demanding exercises were an arduous 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.
The final day of the Exercise saw mounted and dismounted troops with support armour from the Warrior infantry fighting vehicle and Challenger 2 Tanks tasked with taking control of the Urban Development Training Area (UDTA), a replica of a small town that was being protected by soldiers acting as enemy.
1 RWELSH were last in Estonia in 2018 on Operation Cabrit 2 and their Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Streatfeild is proud to be leading the Battlegroup on their next operation and adds:
“When we go to Estonia our identity is not as 1 RWELSH or British Army, our identity will be as the NATO enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) Battlegroup and indeed one of the companies attached to us are Danish so it is very multinational by design. When we are there, we will be ready to deter and indeed be there to defend against any adversary threats.”