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The Desert Rats go tunnelling

Soldiers from C Squadron, 1st The Queen’s Dragoon Guards have been training in underground tunnels to perfect their clearance and combat skills in a subterranean setting.

The Regiment is a reconnaissance regiment, seeking out information about the enemy and the terrain. It is part of 7th Infantry Brigade known as The Desert Rats.

C Squadron has been practising tunnel clearances in a specialised training facility. The tunnels enable soldiers to learn and test their tactics and procedures for assessing and dealing with close-quarter threats.

Underground training has been a part of military training for years. British soldiers must be prepared to fight in any terrain across the globe including underground.

Major Bryn Williams said: “Subterranean fighting requires its own set of tactics and procedures, just like fighting in extreme cold weather, the jungle or the deserts of Mali like we did last year. The soldiers have plenty of experience of operating above ground and this is a step further.

“Everything you can do above ground; you can do underground. However, you have to think how you are going to achieve that same outcome. Soldiers must use their imagination to produce innovative plans and execute them with a professional mindset. This training makes troops think about what is required as the environment is extremely challenging. Basics such as communication and the ability to observe are still extant."

“It is a totally new environment for some of the soldiers who have joined the regiment recently. However, if they do find themselves in this type of situation for real, they will now have the experience to deal with it.”

While C Squadron was training underground, the Headquarters Squadron was deployed in Mali, West Africa as part of the UN peacekeeping operations MINUSMA (Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission)

HQ Squadron’s peacekeeping role saw the soldiers deploy out on patrols in Jackal vehicles to speak with the civilian population. The situational awareness and intelligence they gained helped the United Nations make informed decisions and protect the local communities. C Squadron deployed to Mali alongside the 2nd Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment last year.