UK — Engineers take part in major exercise in Germany

Per­son­nel from 28 Engi­neer Reg­i­ment have tak­en part in a major mil­i­tary exer­cise in Ger­many using a vari­ety of vehi­cles and spe­cial­ist equip­ment to test their readi­ness to deploy to any emer­gency sit­u­a­tion around the world.

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Sol­diers use an M3 Amphibi­ous Rig to cross a riv­er [Pic­ture: Cor­po­ral Obi Igboe­bi­siok­wu RLC, Crown Copyright/MOD 2011]
Source: Min­istry of Defence, UK
Click to enlarge

400 men and women from the reg­i­ment, which is based in Hameln in North Ger­many, were con­front­ed with a vari­ety of tough mil­i­tary sce­nar­ios and tasks.

These includ­ed build­ing a tem­po­rary land bridge strong enough for armoured vehi­cles and troops to cross, con­struct­ing a pris­on­er of war facil­i­ty and well-cam­ou­flaged camps, clear­ing a mine­field, for­ti­fy­ing an area with trench­es to ward off an ene­my attack, and using M3 Amphibi­ous Rigs to estab­lish a secure cross­ing over a riv­er in a mat­ter of min­utes.

The skills they prac­tised in the mid­dle of the vast, forest­ed Ger­man Army train­ing area near the east­ern Ger­man town of Kli­etz, just an hour’s dri­ve from Berlin, are vital in ensur­ing the regiment’s abil­i­ty to suc­ceed on any mis­sion they might be deployed on.

While many of these skills are huge­ly rel­e­vant to Afghanistan, the three-week exer­cise wasn’t Afghanistan-spe­cif­ic but was instead designed to drill the sol­diers in both the basic sol­dier­ing and engi­neer­ing skills need­ed in any sit­u­a­tion.

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Sol­diers tak­ing part in the train­ing exer­cise near the Ger­man town of Kli­etz [Pic­ture: Cor­po­ral Obi Igboe­bi­siok­wu RLC, Crown Copyright/MOD 2011]
Source: Min­istry of Defence, UK
Click to enlarge

Cor­po­ral Kevin Burgess, a mem­ber of the Ter­ri­to­r­i­al Army serv­ing with 23 Amphibi­ous Squadron, part of 28 Engi­neer Reg­i­ment, com­mand­ed one of the M3 Amphibi­ous Rigs dur­ing the exer­cise. He said:

“I am one of three peo­ple to oper­ate the rig along with the dri­ver and the pilot. It’s been a great exer­cise but very cold sleep­ing in the field at night, but it’s a great expe­ri­ence — it’s what sol­dier­ing is about.

“The rigs are real­ly impres­sive and fan­tas­tic to work on. We have to do exer­cis­es like this to keep our skills up.”

23 Amphibi­ous Squadron is made up of mem­bers of the Ter­ri­to­r­i­al Army and is the only squadron in the British Army to use the M3 Rig which can be dri­ven into a riv­er and used as a fer­ry or, when sev­er­al are joined togeth­er from one bank to the oth­er, act as a bridge capa­ble of car­ry­ing vehi­cles as heavy as the Chal­lenger 2 main bat­tle tank.

The rig was first used on oper­a­tions in Iraq where it fer­ried ele­ments of 3 Com­man­do Brigade across the Shatt Al-Bas­ra water­way and in sup­port of 16 Air Assault Brigade dur­ing a riv­er cross­ing at the Ramal­lah oil fields.

For the exer­cise in Ger­many the British engi­neers teamed up with the Ger­man Army’s 2 Schwere Pio­nier­batail­lon 130 to link 14 M3 Rigs togeth­er to form a secure, sta­ble riv­er cross­ing.

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Sol­diers use an M3 Amphibi­ous Rig to cross a riv­er [Pic­ture: Cor­po­ral Obi Igboe­bi­siok­wu RLC, Crown Copyright/MOD 2011]
Source: Min­istry of Defence, UK
Click to enlarge

Cor­po­ral Burgess added:

“We like to work with oth­er forces; it’s good to see how they oper­ate and how we can improve on how we work and inter­act with our Ger­man coun­ter­parts.

“It’s also good to main­tain your basic sol­dier­ing skills and infantry skills. We have a large knowl­edge pool here and can learn a lot from each oth­er, and it is of course fun to play sol­dier.”

Many of the men and women tak­ing part in the exer­cise either recent­ly served in or may deploy to Afghanistan in the future. Recent 28 Engi­neer Reg­i­ment deploy­ments include work to upgrade and build new for­ward oper­at­ing bases and build­ing and repair­ing mil­i­tary and civil­ian bridges across Hel­mand.

Lieu­tenant Colonel Chas Sto­ry, Com­mand­ing Offi­cer of 28 Engi­neer Reg­i­ment, said:

“All the skills we have learnt here are the same skills that we need in Afghanistan but are also essen­tial no mat­ter where else we might be asked to deploy to in the future.

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Sol­diers for­ti­fy an area for an immi­nent attack [Pic­ture: Cor­po­ral Obi Igboe­bi­siok­wu RLC, Crown Copyright/MOD 2011]
Source: Min­istry of Defence, UK
Click to enlarge

“The reg­i­ment has been ful­ly com­mit­ted to Afghanistan and Iraq over the last few years but now that we are all back togeth­er in Ger­many we decid­ed to take this oppor­tu­ni­ty to get back to the basics of liv­ing in the field, prac­tis­ing the basic skills of being sap­pers and sol­diers.

“We also val­ued the chance to use our M3 rigs along­side those of the Ger­man Army dur­ing the exer­cise. Britain along with Ger­many, Sin­ga­pore and Tai­wan are one of only four nations to use them. They are a great asset for the British Army and were used very effec­tive­ly in Iraq and are a good resource for the future.

“28 Engi­neer Reg­i­ment are expect­ed to take on a vari­ety of roles dur­ing a deploy­ment, from open­ing up sup­ply routes, bridge-build­ing and recon­struct­ing routes, to clear­ing an area of impro­vised explo­sive devices, build­ing bases, dig­ging trench­es and estab­lish­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tions.”

Press release
Min­istry of Defence, UK

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