The Household Cavalry Regiment has been busy preparing for a key role as part of the United Nations (UN) Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus.
The Regiment, based at Ward Barracks in Bulford, will patrol the buffer zone also known as the “Green Line” that has divided the Turkish Cypriot North and the Greek Cypriot South for over 40 years.
The peacekeeping mission is one of the longest running United Nations missions. Around 260 soldiers form the British contribution known as Op TOSCA.
The buffer zone extends approximately 180km and is divided into three Sectors. The British soldiers will be responsible for the central part of the buffer zone, known as Sector 2, covering the city of Nicosia.
The area is restricted to the public and no Greek Cypriots or Turkish Cypriots are allowed inside without a permit. It is often described as “frozen in time" due to the fact it contains relics of times gone by. It includes abandoned homes and closed businesses from when the residents of the now Buffer Zone were forced to flee due to the escalation of the conflict.
The soldiers keep permanent watch over the zone by patrols in vehicles, on foot or by mountain bike, working to maintain the peace and stability and performing an important liaison role with local people and local authorities.
An important part of their role will be building up relationships with the opposing forces so that problems can be sorted out without escalating.
The Second-in-Command of The Household Cavalry Regiment, Major Paul Chishick, said: “Around 260 soldiers including augmentees from The Royal Yeomanry, who are our paired reservist cavalry unit, and members of 5 Regiment Royal Artillery will deploy later this month.
“The training has developed their negotiation, mediation, and observation skills. Their role will require tact and professionalism to help prevent any activity that could disturb the Cyprus peace process.”
Their training was delivered by the Mission Ready Training Centre (MRTC) whose job it is to ensure that the deploying personnel are fully trained to meet the many challenges they may face.
The deploying troops undertook a series of training activities that ended with a formal validation known as a Mission Rehearsal Exercise (MRX).
The MRX is based on the current environment and helps the soldiers fine-tune their role and their Standing Operating Procedures (SOP).
The MRTC receives up-to-date reports from Cyprus so any changes, no matter how small, can be replicated on the training to ensure it is as close to realism as it can be,
All takes place under the watchful eye of the MRTC training team and 10 Queen’s Own Gurkha Logistic Regiment (QOGLR) who are currently deployed on the island and who the Household Cavalry Regiment will replace.