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Infantry and Engineers team up for ambitious Leeds exercise

The 2nd Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment’s B Company were supported by 21 Engineer Regiment in a breath-taking simulated assault on a disused block of city flats this week.

Fighting through the Highways structure in the Killingbeck district, the infantry went door-to-door in an effort to defeat an enemy that was proving to die hard on Exercise Highrise Poacher.

The Ripon-based 21 Engineer Regiment were on hand to support improvised entry through doors and walls, while the opposition was provided by the 4th Battalion The Parachute Regiment, who celebrated their freedom of Leeds earlier this year.

Major Cox, Officer Commanding (OC) of B Company, said: “We’ve been deployed up here from Cottesmore on this exercise. This is a really good urban environment – these are real flats with real doors and windows, narrow stairways, as well as obstacles that could get in our way.”

The 10-storey building, scheduled for demolition in the coming months, presented a challenge to the 100 soldiers involved that required cool heads as they moved to attack the block from a nearby car park.

Describing the practical considerations, Major Cox said: “We have been using ladders – the West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service have been really kind to partner with us and let us use theirs. It’s a real-world environment, it’s not sterile, and the corridors are narrow.”

This is the second urban exercise undertaken by the British Army in a week in the West Yorkshire city, with Exercise Hypogeal Bear demonstrating the prowess of the Royal Engineers in a 2km set of tunnels on Monday.

For the troops of B Company, the assault was a valuable experience that contributes to their skill set.

To go through this and learn new things is a really good benefit Lance Corporal Greenshields

Lance Corporal Greenshields said: “Many of our soldiers are really junior, they certainly won’t have done anything like this before. To go through this and learn new things is a really good benefit.”

8 Engineer Brigade, who planned and delivered the training this week, will now evaluate the lessons that were identified.

In conclusion, Major Cox said: “It’s a tricky environment. Sometimes our training takes place in quite sterile places, but this block of flats is real life.”