UK — Artillery competition trains gunners for rapid reaction role

Air­borne gun­ners have gone into bat­tle against each oth­er as they train for their role in the British Army’s rapid reac­tion force.

Air­borne gun­ners of 7th Para­chute Reg­i­ment Roy­al Horse Artillery take part in a gun run, rac­ing against the clock with a one-tonne L118 105mm Light Gun [Pic­ture: Sergeant Rupert Frere, Crown Copyright/MOD 2012]
Source: Min­istry of Defence, UK
Click to enlarge

Colch­ester-based 7th Para­chute Reg­i­ment Roy­al Horse Artillery (7 Para RHA) held a best gun detach­ment com­pe­ti­tion last week at War­cop, in Cum­bria, to test the full range of their skills as gun­ners first and infantry sol­diers sec­ond.

As well as the key artillery skills of accu­rate live fir­ing and safe move­ment of the 105mm L118 Light Gun, the com­pet­ing gun detach­ments were test­ed on their first aid, vehi­cle recov­ery, rifle shoot­ing and fit­ness.

Lieu­tenant Colonel Gary Wilkin­son, Com­mand­ing Offi­cer of 7 Para RHA, said:

“This com­pe­ti­tion has enabled the gun crews to demon­strate all of the abil­i­ties and attrib­ut­es expect­ed of the mod­ern day field gun­ner, show­ing their robust­ness, tech­ni­cal com­pe­tence, resilience, deter­mi­na­tion, flex­i­bil­i­ty and basic sol­dier­ing skills.

“It has been tough, but has proved that our sol­diers are more than up to the chal­lenge of any­thing that is thrown at them. This ver­sa­til­i­ty is a vital attribute for all of our sol­diers and offi­cers as we train to meet future oper­a­tional demands.”

Two six-man detach­ments from each of the unit’s three gun bat­ter­ies took part in the com­pe­ti­tion.

Detach­ment com­man­der Sergeant Lee Sop­er said:

“There’s always healthy rival­ry between the gun teams, and the com­pe­ti­tion has been a great way to test everyone’s skills.

“As we train for our rapid response role, we’re real­ly going back to what 7 Para RHA is all about. It’s back to basics gun­nery — shoot­ing and mov­ing and liv­ing out of our vehi­cles — rather than work­ing from fixed loca­tions as we have been on recent oper­a­tions in Afghanistan.”

The com­pe­ti­tion marked the start of Exer­cise EAGLES RESOLVE 12, which involves train­ing to main­tain 7 Para RHA’s skills as part of the Air­borne Task Force (ABTF). The ABTF sees 16 Air Assault Brigade main­tain a force ready to deploy any­where in the world at short notice.

7 Para RHA pro­vides a gun bat­tery and fire sup­port teams, who work with infantry on the ground to co-ordi­nate artillery, fast air and attack heli­copter sup­port.

The exer­cise, tak­ing place in Otter­burn, Northum­ber­land, will see 7 Para RHA fine tune its core skills of iden­ti­fy­ing and engag­ing tar­gets.

Lt Col Wilkin­son said:

“It will be a robust, chal­leng­ing, sophis­ti­cat­ed and high­ly reward­ing exer­cise for all involved.”

Press release
Min­istry of Defence, UK

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