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Paratroopers learn to lead the way in Slovenia

Paratroopers have scaled new heights and built partnerships with NATO allies during demanding training in the mountains of Slovenia.

Some 120 paratroopers from C (Bruneval) Company, 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment (2PARA) are being introduced to the challenges of operating in a mountainous environment on Exercise Triglav Star.

Working alongside specialist mountain infantry from Slovenia and the United States, troops learnt climbing and rope work techniques ahead of a tactical exercise on the rugged peaks of the Julian Alps.

The training is preparing paratroopers to be able to operate in any environment for their role in the British Army’s global response force, as well as sharing skills and building relationships with NATO allies.

The exercise presents a unique set of tactical and physical challenges, offering a different environment for the British Army with high-altitude climbs, steep cliff faces and densely wooded slopes.

Lieutenant Giddings, Officer Commanding 8 Platoon, said “Exercise Triglav Star has exposed us to a unique environment where we have learned different skills and have had to adapt our tactics, techniques and procedures to the mountain environment.”

With mountains covering 25 per cent of the Earth’s land surface and many areas where disputed borders are placed, they are an important terrain to train in, particularly for high-readiness forces.

It’s not only the enemy that troops must contend with. In addition to the difficult landscape, the mountains also offer climatic challenges of high winds, extreme cold and unpredictable weather. Those who can master these two factors will have the advantage.

During the exercise, the first phase focussed on a range of basic skills required to successfully operate in the mountains, such as navigation, climbing on fixed ropes, rappelling, abseiling and rope bridges.

These skills, taught by world leading trainers from different nations, were completely new to 2 PARA and gave them the chance to build their confidence and proficiency in mountain operations.

Alongside practical training, commanders were also taught small unit tactics in the mountain environment by subject matter experts based at the NATO Centre of Excellence for Mountain Warfare.

Tactics in the mountains are underpinned by fitness and adaptability, with a strong focus on mission command. Commanders are often isolated and will have to be trusted to make decisions independently based upon the higher commanders’ intent. 

Conducted alongside international partners from the US, Poland, Hungary and of course the Slovenian Army, the multinational aspect of the exercise allows a sharing of knowledge and the development of shared tactics, techniques and procedures.

Major Steve White, Officer Commanding C (Bruneval) Company, said: “The exercise gives us the ability to develop basic mountain skills and adapt our standard operating procedures in an under-trained environment.

“The fitness, initiative and adaptability expected of airborne soldiers is combined with the experience of mountain specialist troops and experts from our allies, allowing us to gain a foundational understanding of operating in this important environment. It will make us more rounded soldiers able to deploy at high-readiness into challenging terrain.”

The final exercise phase will see multinational companies deploy into the mountains where they will put their skills to the test through a number of tactical scenarios, culminating in an attack onto a feature twice the height of Mount Snowdon.