Sappers from 21 Engineer Regiment (21 Engr Regt) have been conducting exercises on the water near Minley, Surrey as part of Exercise Iron Titan, the largest Army Field Training Exercise (FTX) in twenty years that brings together the training of the 3rd (United Kingdom) Division’s (3 (UK) Div) support elements.
Over a six-week period, training in complex engineering tasks is being conducted at a number of locations to highlight the wide range of roles these multi-skilled troops have and how their expertise proves invaluable to other formations, and with a focus on those tasks which are difficult to deliver at the Battlegroup FTX level.
Colonel Jim Webster, Commander of the Engineers in 3 (UK) Div said:
“The last time we did an engineering exercise of this scale was in 2001. The importance this time around is that we are exercising alongside other elements of the Division. So, logistics, signallers, aviation, gunners, and Deep Recce Strike are all training together.”
And he adds:
“The Engineer element of Iron Titan will exercise over 11 different training areas, conducting 83 different major engineering tasks. Among the serials will be route construction and route upgrading to all types of bridge crossings.
“We will also build bulk fuel installations, carry out demolition, mine clearance, and demonstrate how we supply water after it has passed through a purification process.
Our job is to keep the 3rd Division on the move, we keep it alive, and we kill the enemy. Our challenge is to continually evolve our equipment, our people, our skills, and our tactics.”
The last time we did an engineering exercise of this scale was in 2001. The importance this time around is that we are exercising alongside other elements of the Division. So, logistics, signallers, aviation, gunners, and Deep Recce Strike are all training together. Colonel Jim Webster
Exercise Iron Titan sees 8,000 troops taking part in the Army’s largest land exercise for two decades, demonstrating how they can integrate their specific trades over large distances to get the right people to the right place with the right equipment at the right time.
This element of the exercise on Hawley Hard sees the first use of M3 rigs or Wet Wide Gap Crossings (WWGC) in the UK and cements its value to combat troops.
WWGC or M3 Amphibious Rig is a self-propelled, amphibious bridging vehicle that is used to transport vehicles and equipment across water thus ensuring troops remain lethal and agile in the fight.
Lieutenant Colonel Perry Bishop. Commanding Officer 21 Engr Regt commands the Divisional Engineering Group (DEG). This is the first time it has deployed this new capability under ‘future soldier.’
“There are an awful lot of big rivers in Europe, so if we are going to keep the 3rd Division alive and, on the move, and killing the enemy, a core part of that is getting across those big spans of water and we are the only people in the Army who can do that.”
The DEG has not trained on this scale for many years. With over 1,100 soldiers and more than 700 vehicles spread across eleven training areas in two countries, the scale of the exercise is enormous.
There are an awful lot of big rivers in Europe, so if we are going to keep the 3rd Division alive and, on the move, and killing the enemy, a core part of that is getting across those big spans of water and we are the only people in the Army who can do that. Lieutenant Colonel Perry Bishop
Major Ryan Ingram, Officer Commanding 23 Amphibious Engineer Squadron, part of 21 Engr Regt:
“We are based in Germany and have come over to demonstrate the capability of the M3 and what we bring to the party with regards to Wide Wet Gap Crossing (WWGC).
“We find ourselves not only aligned to the national component with 3rd (UK) Division, but we are also part of 130 Panzer Infantry Battalion which is part of the German Bundeswehr.”
“We are the only multi-national battalion that’s currently aligned especially with the NATO commitment. So not only do we deliver that British component we also deliver the NATO component with regards to the Wide Wet Gap Crossing capability”
And on the interoperability theme, Major Ingram says:
“We now find ourselves in a fantastic place both nationally and with NATO colleagues and allies. Individually and as a group we can now demonstrate what we do, how we do business and why it is so important to deliver combat power and manoeuvrability in the battle space.
From the northern tip of Estonia down to the southern tip of Poland there are over 4000 crossings. 1800 of those are greater than a 100 metre-span. So therefore, if you consider just those figures you’ll understand how integral we are to the fight.”
Whilst this six-week exercise across England and Wales allows soldiers to innovate and experiment using their specialist technical skills, the lessons they learn will be a firm foundation to continue to train as they fight to win wars on land.
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