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3 PARA test their desert skills in Jordan

27 April 2017

British paratroopers are putting their skills to the test alongside their Jordanian counterparts in a major joint exercise set in the country’s scorched desert plains.

Ex OLIVE GROVE has seen C Company, 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment working with Jordan’s elite Quick Reaction Force (QRF) on a range of infantry skills, sharing their expertise and hard-won knowledge in the most testing of environments.

The six-week package focused on honing the British and Jordanian troops’ fire and movement, utilising specially constructed desert and urban facilities. It culminates with both units’ participation in Ex EAGER LION, testing their capacity to jointly react to – and defeat – a notional incursion into Jordanian territory by hostile forces.

 Young paras get valuable training with the Jordanian Army.

As well as enhancing military interoperability, there’s also a strong emphasis on building informal bonds between the exercising troops and exposing them to one another’s culture, with British and Jordanian soldiers living together on camp and exchanging survival techniques on excursions into the desert.

The QRF is one of Jordan’s newest and most formidable military formations and, like 16 Air Assault Brigade, is capable of deploying at short notice to confront the most serious threats facing the country and the wider Middle East region.

According to Major Rick Lewin, Officer Commanding C Coy, 3 PARA, it’s this unity of purpose that makes this such a beneficial partnership.

He said: “The Jordanian Quick Reaction Force (QRF) and 16 Air Assault Brigade as a whole are similar organisations and it makes sense for us to partner with them. But for me the most valuable training that my young soldiers are getting is the interoperability with the Jordanian Army.”

“What we’re trying to do is demonstrate the way we operate and give the Jordanians an opportunity to decide if they like that. Simultaneously, our soldiers are doing precisely the same thing, they’re watching the Jordanians whose shooting on the range is incredibly accurate, and also they were moving through the cover incredibly efficiently and quickly, so this is very much going both ways all the way through.”

Enthusiasm for this burgeoning partnership is shared across all ranks. Private Jamie Simpson, from Milton Keynes in Buckinghamshire, said: “It’s been very good. They’re very willing to learn, we’ve been learning each other’s patrol formations and section attacks. Obviously the language is a bit of a barrier, but they’re willing to learn and they’re teaching us certain words and phrases.”

“They have a lot of experience as well, they’ve got guys who have been in for fifteen or twenty years, and they’ve been passing on information to me as a young Tom and we’re passing them information that perhaps they didn’t know.”

“They’re lovely people, very easy to get along with and I’d definitely be happy to go on operations with them, one hundred percent.”

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