Reservists from regiments across the British Army have been perfecting their skills on the open moorlands and deep valleys of the Dartmoor National Park, Devon in preparation for their deployment to the Falkland Islands.
4th Battalion The Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment (4PWRR) will lead the next Falkland Islands Roulement Infantry Company (FIRIC) which sees infantry regiments take it in turn to deploy to the British overseas territory on a standing commitment, not operational tour, for up to four months at a time.
Major Dan Brooks, Officer Commanding (OC) A Company 4PWRR will be OC of the Roulement Infantry Company for the upcoming deployment:
“We are in the spotlight as this is the first time that a regular Army reserve unit has led on this standing commitment.
"I’ve loved being in the hills and the outdoors generally. This is a beautiful place to do your training." PRIVATE TOM HYDER, 3RD BATTALION THE ROYAL ANGLIAN REGIMENT
For the deployment we have nine different regiments that will be represented. Six are Reserve and three will be joining us from Regular units. There will be representation from: 4PWRR, 3rd Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment, The Royal Yeomanry, 5th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, 6 Battalion The Rifles and 4th Battalion the Mercian Regiment. From the regulars we will be accompanied by personnel from: 1st Battalion the Yorkshire Regiment and the Household Cavalry together with elements from the Scots Guards and the Welsh Guards.”
Major Brooks explains what their role will be during the deployment:
“The FIRIC will carry out overt patrolling and overt reassurance to the Falkland Islands population. We will also help communities via Civil-Military Co-operation tasks (CIMIC) as required on the ground. If ever there was a case for promoting the utility of the Army reserves in the future soldier model, then this is it.”
Dartmoor National Park in Devon covers over 350 square miles and has been used by the military for training purposes since the 1800’s. With few inhabitants and vast expanses of wilderness, the national park provides the space and challenges required to prepare personnel for diverse conditions that will be experienced in austere locations like the Falkland Islands.
Captain Jordan Wain, 4 PWRR explains what the troops have been doing whilst on Dartmoor:
"The time we deploy is of huge significance. It will be an absolute privilege and honour for us all to serve and indeed for me to command" MAJOR DAN BROOKS, OFFICER COMMANDING 4TH BATTALION THE PRINCESS OF WALES'S ROYAL REGIMENT
“Our Pre-deployment training (PDT) includes a range of training objectives. From overt patrolling to shooting and Chemical, Biological, Radioactive and Nuclear training. We have also focused on cold weather training in readiness for the change in climate when we reach the South Atlantic. Personnel have also taken part in a validation exercise where a scenario like which they will experience on the Falklands was re-created. This meant long treks across the craggy landscape, testing comms equipment, and achieving signals, traversing rivers, learning map skills and familiarisation with the general terrain”
For the past 40 years, the British Army has maintained a presence in the Falklands since the Argentinian invasion. Reserve troops are deployed for three months at a time where their days are spent patrolling its expansive, open landscape and helping locals with day-to-day tasks (CIMIC).
Dartmoor and the Falklands share many qualities. Both are made up of mountainous landscapes with signs of civilisation far and few between. Both are subject to treacherous weather: cold and wet with fast-changing conditions and poor visibility.
One of those taking part in the training is Private Tom Hyder from 3rd Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment:
“I’ve loved being in the hills and the outdoors generally. This is a beautiful place to do your training. The ground is heavy and boggy in places which makes it a challenge to traverse though, especially when you’ve got your full kit on. But I’ve loved every minute of it”
And adds the 30-year-old Carpenter from Essex:
"I joined the Army so that I’d have the chance to travel so I’m excited to be going out there, doing a good job and representing the British Army. Also, it will be the first time I’ve ever been on a plane and the first time I’ve been to another country." PRIVATE WILLIAM BINDER, 3RD BATTALION THE ROYAL ANGLIAN REGIMENT
“I joined the Army because I’ve always had a sense of adventure, that coupled with the different forms of adventurous training the Army offers really appealed to me. You form a real bond with the people you work with which counts for a lot. Plus, there are lots of opportunities to deploy to different locations around the world which also appealed to me.”
20-year-old William Binder, also from 3rd Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment, usually works as a roofer and has been a reservist for just over a year:
“The terrain here is replicating that of the Falklands; lots of hills, very boggy and very desolate. I joined the Army so that I’d have the chance to travel so I’m excited to be going out there, doing a good job and representing the British Army. Also, it will be the first time I’ve ever been on a plane and the first time I’ve been to another country. “
Major Dan Brooks looks ahead to Operation FIRIC and what will be important to him and his personnel for several reasons:
“The time we deploy is of huge significance. It will be an absolute privilege and honour for us all to serve and indeed for me to command. Personally, Looking back, I was eight when the Falkland Islands conflict took place. This together with the Libyan Embassy siege were the two things as a child that made me want to serve my country. Now I find myself 40 years on as a commanding officer and proud to be leading this roulement that is drawn from all over the country, mixed cap badges regular and reserve, the epitome of interoperability at this absolutely poignant mark in time.”