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British forces strengthen NATO battle readiness

British troops have strengthened NATO’s battle readiness on a major exercise with 10 partner nations.

Exercise Spring Storm saw Armed Forces from the UK, Estonia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and USA working together and testing each other in multi-domain training scenarios to test and strengthen military interoperability and responsiveness.

Held in Estonia, 14,000 land, sea and air personnel demonstrated the full integration into the Estonian National Defence Plan in line with NATO’s deterrence and defence of the Eastern flank.

...we fought as an invading force might so we could be the best possible sparring partner... Lieutenant Colonel Harris
Commanding Officer Light Dragoons

From the British Army, the 7 Light Mechanised Brigade Combat Team (7LMBCT) HQ and Light Dragoons Battlegroup (LD BG) joined the Queen’s Royal Hussars Battlegroup (QRH BG), to rehearse the reinforcement of an enhanced Forward Presence Battlegroup (eFP BG) to Brigade level strength.

Split into three phases, the two-week exercise involved field training exercises, land and air live firing exercises and a maritime beach assault, featuring Royal Marines from X Company, 45 Commando launching from the Royal Navy’s HMS Albion.

Spread across tough and varied Estonian terrain, the units were tested on realistic battlefield scenarios including trench assaults, reconnaissance missions and light infantry tactics, moving up to armoured manoeuvre and combined arms warfare.

The exercise was conducted peer-on-peer, allowing the reconnaissance capabilities of the LD BG to be tested against the heavy armour of the QRH BG, and vice versa.

Equipment used included Challenger 2 tanks, Warrior and CV90 Infantry Fighting Vehicles, Jackal, Caesar self-propelled howitzers and other artillery pieces, including British Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System and US High-Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems.

Included in the exercise were comprehensive training serials from air units. Under Op Peleda and Op Azotize, the UK deployed four Wildcat, five Apache and three Typhoon aircraft to conduct reconnaissance and live firing drills, providing land-air integration.

Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Harris, Commanding Officer Light Dragoons, said: “Having trained hard across a large swathe of eastern Estonia we understand the challenges and opportunities the terrain presents, and we are well prepared to deploy there again if necessary.

...our mission is to deter and reassure... Lieutenant Colonel Wilson
Commanding Officer The Queen's Royal Hussars

“Deploying as opposing forces under the Estonian 2nd Brigade, we fought as an invading force might so we could be the best possible sparring partner for Estonia and its NATO allies, which taught both the defending forces and us a lot about how to fight and win on that ground.”

Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel (Lt Col) Steve Wilson, of The Queen’s Royal Hussars which took over as the leading unit for the UK led eFP Battlegroup based in Tapa camp, Estonia, in March, said: “Exercise Spring Storm was a tremendous opportunity for the Queen’s Royal Hussars battlegroup.

“The chance to train beyond the constraints of traditional training areas on both private and public land, including the highways was a valuable exercise. 

“This is particularly important for us, as our mission is to deter and reassure whilst being prepared to defend Estonia. To train on the terrain we might be asked to defend, alongside our allies, certainly added gravitas to the exercise.”

The BG deployed around 1,000 troops and more than 230 armoured vehicles, including Challenger 2 tanks, Warrior, Mastiffs, AS90 and heavy engineering vehicles alongside a company from the French Foreign Legion, who are fully integrated into the eFP BG.

The lethality of my battlegroup...sends a strong message to our adversary Lieutenant Colonel Wilson
Commanding Officer The Queen's Royal Hussars

Lt Col Wilson added: “We worked with our allies in the 1st Estonian Brigade, demonstrating our interoperability and strength in partnership. The lethality of my battlegroup, as well the other 13,000 troops deployed for Spring Storm sends a strong message to our adversary, as well as demonstrating the resolve and capability of NATO in the Baltics and Eastern Europe”.

The eFP brought a wide range of hard-hitting capabilities from main battle tanks, anti-tank, and artillery to snipers, mortars, engineers, and tactical air controllers.

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