A major training exercise concluded last week with 1 Mercian Battlegroup proving it was a potent force.
Exercise Iron Storm, which started in April, was designed to supply the opportunity for the 1 Mercian Battlegroup to verify its credentials as it takes up the role of Lead Armoured Battlegroup in September as part of the Army’s Lead Armoured Task Force. It literally gave the Battlegroup a fighting chance to come together and train in a combined arms environment.
A Battlegroup is the foundation on which various fighting formations can be built. It is usually made up of a Battlegroup Headquarters and various other capabilities depending on the task at hand.
Lieutenant Colonel Dean Canham, Commanding Officer of the 1st Battalion the Mercian Regiment and the 1 Mercian Battlegroup said:
“The completion of this exercise will see the Battlegroup fully prepared and ready to conduct operations anywhere in the world and we will be held in high readiness to do so.”
The exercise pulled no punches for the Battlegroup and had them facing everything a military kitchen sink could throw at them, with a combination of heavy armour, artillery, engineering, and infantry all involved in the mix.
Lt Col Canham added:
“It’s really important for us to exercise a Battlegroup. It’s an opportunity to bring together all the different elements of a Combined Arms Battlegroup and exercise them under testing conditions to ensure that we are all confident and competent in achieving the best effect.”
Starting in Germany, a series of complex exercises took place in a simulated environment where soldiers were given a virtual chance to see what they would face when they took up the physical challenge of the live fire phase, and a field training exercise.
They then moved to Castlemartin in Wales where the Warrior infantry fighting vehicle, Challenger 2 main battle tank, artillery and infantry took part in the live firing phase, testing defensive and offensive positions with everything in between. Engineers cleared routes and breached obstacles using the heavy weight Trojan and Titan vehicles.
The finale came on Salisbury Plain, Wiltshire, with the field training where troops honed their skills of defence, delay, attack, and pursuit against a dynamic and free thinking ‘enemy’. This part of the exercise also served as a test to the Royal Logistic Corps’ Brigade Support Group, who supply logistical expertise, food, fuel and ammunition not only to a Battlegroup, but the whole Armed Brigade Combat Team.
Lt Col Canham concluded:
“The battlegroup has gone through a huge progression of training over the months and to see all of their hard work coming together and see the effects that we are able to achieve as a Combined Arms Battlegroup is really reassuring for the individuals, the team and the Army.”