Army Reserve Soldiers from the 4th Battalion The Princess of Wales Royal Regiment have been on exercise on Salisbury Plain.

The British Army say in a news release that the troops were putting their skills to the test in assaulting and securing buildings in an urban warfare environment.

“The exercise was delivered at Platoon level, with individuals coming together from across the Battalion’s four Companies for their final training weekend of the year, Exercise Punniar Tiger. Approximately 70 soldiers from across the south east took part, although numbers were reduced this year in order to adhere to the COVID-19 restrictions.

On receiving orders, the night before, the soldiers moved into position for a final dawn attack on Southdown Barn situated on the Plain which is the largest area of chalk grassland in north-west Europe.

The assault took place on the old barn and its outer farm buildings. It involved the soldiers working through a series of room clearances, climbing over walls and storming the buildings within, using various weapon systems to achieve their objectives, firing hundreds of blank rounds and using special training smoke grenades.”

The British Army add that the purpose of the exercise was to develop 4 PWRR’s Urban Warfare skills and tactics, techniques and procedures.

“Whilst the Battalion has no need to train for subterranean warfare, the environment provided the opportunity to develop a number of core skills and capabilities which enhanced their ability to operate within complex terrain.”

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Rob

Anyone from 4 PWRR? Love to know how the new Battalion is progressing.

Airborne

Rob like most reserve units, cannot get the numbers and the people. No matter what you plan 6 weeks plus in advance, it’s always a Friday night ORBAT. As an ex SPSI for two years, no matter how many people you have on your books, you will only ever get your usual committed 20-30 on a weekend and maybe 15 plus on a drill, night.

Rob

Airborne.

Yeah I was once an instructor with a Cadet unit (I know, but it was fun). We once did a camp at Browndown Training Camp (doesn’t exist any more I believe). We were warned the Wessex Regiment TA (yes some time ago) were in camp too. Turned out we had 300 and they had 30! We ended up firing most of their blank and bull as well as other pyro. Thanks lads.

julian1

that was my old battalion, 2 wessex (c company), what year was that?

Rob

Right after Gulf War 1. Summer 1991??

Julian1

Few years too early for me!

Daniele Mandelli

Mate. Controversial question. Is the Army Reseve worth it with regards combat units of the infantry and RAC? I’m unsure how much of our budget goes in it. If it’s so poorly attended would it not make more sense to prioritise CS and CSS units? The RAMC FH, for example, tapping straight into the NHS. And other specialists like logistics and signals. Do enough members go on to full time? Otherwise isn’t it better to just have the ex regs who have just left and have a call out liability as our “reserve” I’m not sold on this either way,… Read more »

Pigeon

As ex TA, that this exercise got a press release is a scandalous indication of how tiny the aspirations are now. 70 people exercising was a weekly event in about a hundred units when I was in (2000s), and we’d taken a big hit in numbers post the Iraq invasion as a lot of people got called up and that cleaned out the bounty hunter wasters (things got a lot emptier of people – but we had much more comitted people). Why do reservists need to go “on to full time”? “Ex regs” tend to be the worst – a… Read more »

Airborne

Pretty much right on most points mate, certainly about the reg Officers and their command and control skills. Piss off a reserve and they can walk. However you said that ex regs can be quite arrogant, that can be true but most ex regs I have come across, aren’t arrogant, they are just shocked how badly most reserve units are run. And to be fair you have also contradicted yourself as saying the Reserves are keen and want to do it, then when an officer shouts at them off they go, in a strop……so it can be construed that they… Read more »

Pigeon

Hi, The main problem with ex regs (joining as ‘members’ rather than posted as a PSI) is that they are Ex for a reason, normally because they dont want to be in the Army (and/or the Army doesnt want them). The idea of people flitting happily between the two was always naieve and few regs I’ve met want when they get out to give up their weekends to do the ‘same old’ especially as development/progression is always going to be exceptionally limited. Some do as its money for old rope but then they bring cynicism and lack of energy. A… Read more »

Airborne

Lots of points to discuss here, but curently dont have the time, but I will grab hold of one. You say its a terrible attitude to take into a TA unit? Realy? surely they are soldiers and join to operate and deploy as soldiers? Thats the essence of it, same as why people join the Regs. I understand circumstances for the Reserves are different (My daughter is one) but at the end of the day, its not a reservist first choice of career, so either make the effort or dont. Its no longer a drinking club, and with the Governments… Read more »

Dern

Concur so much with the last few sentences here Airborne. If you’re in, you need to be in, and if having a reg show up and say “you need to be ready to deploy.” is too much of a shock then sorry it’s the wrong hobby (or actually since you are being paid, job).
Worth noting as well if Regulars get too pissed off they can walk too. After their first three years there is litterally nothing compelling them to stay except a paycheck, same as the reserves.

Airborne

Mate the individual skill set and experience can be good, but as formed unit’s its terrible. You do not, cannot get, the same amount of skills and experience when it’s a drill night a week, a couple of mandatory weekends and an annual camp. For example, any career course they do, is vastly shortened due to the nature of the reserve soldiers limited time available. Combat arms are only good for filling in individuals and small numbers into an aleady formed and prepared regular unit. The whole concept of the Reserves, which over the last few years has become more… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

Thanks mate. Waffle away, I for one respect it. So, after that I still wonder whether the money spent on the reserves might be better spent elsewhere. If there was a major war what % of them would be relied upon to turn up. Skills like meds, sigs, engineers, especially from the likes of RE LSC who are experts in their fields seem ideal. Pigeon asked me “Why do reservists need to go “on to full time”? I suggested that as I wondered whether disbanding most of the reserve would have an effect on recruitment for regulars. I’ve read some… Read more »

Airborne

In a major war there would be very little time to get them to turn up and deploy, although, as you are aware, that would be depending on the timescale and the tension and political posturing leading up to actual war. Not many, I fear, would make the effort, as the last thing most people would want to do is leave their family voluntarly in times of serious tension. Some would, I’m sure but it’s human nature to protect family first. We need the Reserves mate we sure do, but in more niche and technical roles, where combat is a… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

Pretty much what my thoughts were too.

Cheers mate.

Pigeon

Actually UAS is like URNU, more about putting pro RAF people out there who will go on to be infuencers in government and business. Some do of course go on to join, but they would have joined anyway. Pilots are so over subscribed its irrelevent. In terms of the AR composition, I think Platoon to Company level could work, noting the US deployed entire Brigades and Divisions! Having said that – some TA officers are seriously competent, way out performing regular counterparts, although the issue with higher unit/formation is lack of cohesive experience rather than lack of some key individuals.… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

Thanks Pigeon.

A fascinating read.

Airborne

Agree and disagree with many points, it does seem we may have had differnet experiences, or at least perceive things differently. I disagree with your comment about most turning up, as depending how motivated your unit, my straw poll of many units and individuals as my time as a SPSI, proved that many would not volunteer for an Afghan tour. Would they think differently if the country was threatened and there was time to do some build up training, possibly, but from my experience, getting enough volunteers for a formed unit is impossible. Correct about the course length issue with… Read more »

julian1

I was in the TA during Balkan conflict. We had a number of guys go do S-types – some to NI as well. Some were ex-regs, others were the cream of the civvies who really wanted to join the regs anyway, but hadn’t made that decision at 18-20 and were doing well in civvy careers. You’re right: no way TA infantry could form a deployable unit, but individuals here and there helped make up the numbers in the rifle platoons. What I found interesting was that a TA platoon sergeant, perhaps with 5 years regular experience (RTR) would only be… Read more »

Pigeon

The drop in rank persisted for a long time. Agree it was daft but it came more from there not being many slots in TA units for more senior people and a history of some ex regs coming in and becoming bounty hunters whilst also hogging the few slots that were had. Agree on exercises, we frequently exercised the Bn or Regt, but really it was only multiple coy(-) doing the same things largely independently. By the end they were large platoons with OCs pulled away into meetings and Pt Comds running it (which kind of made sense). But thats… Read more »

Pigeon

Apologies for criticism and that probably comes across harsher in writing it. It’s symptomatic of the disconnect I saw between a very ingrained regular “we’re here to rish off and fight” culture and the sudden desire to use volunteer reservists to fill holes – then the looking down upon reservists as “not real soldiers” becuase they werent instantly like the only thing regulars know and understand. Followed by the inevitable reaction to try and make them like what they did know whilst all the time never bridging the gulf in respect and understanding. Its a terrible attitude because it demands… Read more »

Airborne

No mate its fine, we are all entitled to waffle on occasion, especialy on subjects we know about or are close to our hearts…..possibly lol. I think the main theme here is that the Reserves are an absolute neccessity, individuals can be motivated and experienced, exactly like the Regs (and some dross, exactly like the Regs) BUT the Reserves need changing from the top down, they need funding, and they need to be focussed on more specialised areas (in my opinion). No longer should they have second rate kit and beg borrow steal items for training and exercise. Alas little… Read more »

Pigeon

I can see your logic – but as a technical person it actually takes a long old time to get someone fully trained as a technician and supervisor. Noting regular trade courses are far longer than regular infantry courses. Getting someone there requires a vast amount of courses and a lot of on the job training with the equipment and with faults and problems – the latter doesnt work when you have no kit and dont use it and thus break it. For say a newbie reservist vehicle mechanic you are looking at a minimum of 5 years to be… Read more »

Dern

I mean look at how long Afghan went on for and how often infantry reserve battalions deployed there…. Honestly I think something could be said for re-organising the Army’s divisions and making full on Reservist Brigades for things like MACA and Op Tempora, and actually use them for that. As a point with the RAMC however, I do think we might need to rethink the NHS component. It’s great don’t get me wrong but if the last 12 months has shown anything, in a situation where you might want to call up the reserves the NHS might be streched to… Read more »

julian1

i agree with that airborne, echos my experiences. how often do you get TA infantry training at anything bigger than platoon level exercises? A ‘battalion’ would exercise but in reality it was only ever a company strength

Yeoman

To add to the conversation below on the utility of reserve combat units: The Royal Yeomanry (RY) are currently manning the vast majority of the UK’s Light Cavalry Squadron Group in Poland on Op CABRIT. Earlier this year when 7th Infantry Brigade (The Desert Rats) validated on Ex WESSEX STORM, 50% of the brigade on exercise were reservists and formed reserve units. Last year over 200 RY, plus attached arms, exercised up to CT3 on Salisbury Plain (with an RY BGHQ C2 node). The year before that the RY were able to send a full mounted Light Cavalry Squadron (CT2+)… Read more »

Rob

Not sure about the RY being awarded the only battle honour. I seem to remember the London Regiment deployed a Coy Group in 2003 too?

Yeoman

Thanks for your comment Rob. They certainly may have, but did not receive the battle honour.

Reference here: https://www.theyworkforyou.com/wms/?id=2005-11-10b.21WS.1

Pigeon

Good to hear, although the exception perhaps? RY always seem to have had a good position kit wise, I guess being located in the region with 95% of the heavy kit and the maij training area has a bug advantage for recruitment and activity! There was a full TA coy acting (iirc) as airfield defence in Iraq, OC went a bit loopy and took half of it up to Baghdad for a fight. That ended that tasking! We frequently had plt(+) and coy level groups of volunteers for Telic and Herrick but the Army couldnt resource them with kit or… Read more »