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British Paratroopers from 16 Air Assault Brigade have been testing themselves alongside their American counterparts in an expansive and wide-ranging exercise, say the British Army.

According to a Ministry of Defence press release, soldiers from the Second Battalion, The Parachute Regiment, based at Merville Barracks in Colchester, are in the United States as part of Exercise RATTLESNAKE, which has seen them conduct a series of challenging joint activities with the American 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions.

Paratroopers of A Coy, 2 PARA, and their American counterparts from the 82nd “All American” Airborne Division conduct a joint parachute jump from USAF C-130 aircraft onto Sicily Drop Zone, Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Photographer:
CPL REBECCA BROWN / MoD Crown Copyright

“These have ranged from complex live-firing assaults on sprawling mock enemy villages, to day and night parachute jumps in combat gear using American parachutes and safety equipment, each training serial allowing the troops to hone their own skills and learn new operating procedures which could be used on future UK/US operations.”

Speaking at Fort Polk, Louisiana, Major Robin Rowell, Officer Commanding B Coy, 2 PARA, spoke of the close relationship his men had struck up with their opposite numbers in the US 101st Airborne Division

“I think the training has been extremely realistic, and the lessons my soldiers have learned have been invaluable. It’s great to see at all times, both on the exercise and when we’ve had tactical breaks, the conversations that have been going on at a very low level between both the American and British soldiers, pretty much regardless of rank. It shows a very close bond between the UK and the US, and when it all boils down to it, the forces are very similar.”

Corporal Dan Bradley, a Section Commander with B Coy, 2 PARA, said:

“I’ve worked alongside the Americans in Afghanistan, they’re a good group of guys. They’ve got respect for us and we’ve shown them the same respect.”

“I think with the experiences of Afghanistan fading away now, there’s only a few of us really who have been on tour, and it’s good for the guys to come over to foreign places like this, because it does add realism. In fact it’s probably about as real as it’s going to get with the explosions and pyrotechnics that they have going on, and it’s good ‘battle inoculation’ for the guys. It also breaks the routine of just doing normal exercises on British training areas.”

10 COMMENTS

  1. Well it seems we sent two companies over for this exercise. Hardly a battalion but a decent contribution for once. Too often the army send a token force; not too long ago we sent a platoon of Gurkhas to an exercise containing over 5,000 men from 11 different nations.
    We deride the idea of a European army but they will manage quite nicely without us. Yet another MBT regiment mothballed last week along with the previous three and yet we chastise other nations such as Germany for having only a third of their assets available. So have we!
    I cannot understand how we decide on what we will need for the future. If your potential enemies have lots of tanks, 120 mm mortars and artillery that shoots further and more accurately than yours, then you are in trouble if you start binning your opposing equipment.

    • the counter to that is to stay ok so the enemy out guns us on the ground and so we will focus on the air or sea. There is no chance we could counter any half modern army in a heavy weapons ground fight as we just don’t have the numbers, so better to focus on other areas and not try and be back of all trades master of none.

    • I Agree.

      We are facing real threats now and most of our current investment will not arrive in the numbers required for at least another five to ten years from now.

      Handing over £30-40 Billion pounds to the EU plus, spending somewhere between £12-16 Billion pounds in charitable aid make little sense we we need it to bolster the lack of investment over the past fifteen years in our armed forces and security services.

      Insane!

  2. A “half modern army” is a meaningless phrase. The UK works with allies and we pool our resources. That’s why NATO exists, you might have heard of them.

    • True.

      But I do agree that the UK should concentrate on the RN, RAF, and our world leading intelligence capabilities and not get too carried away recreating the BAOR.

      • Agreed and the Para’s are the type of lighter forces we should be increasing as a rapid reaction capability. Unfortunately, these forces including the RM’s who both form a large proportion of recruits to our SF’s are potentially going to be cut.
        Given our weakness in more traditional armoured warfare this does not seem at all sensible and our allies (The US in particular) also have the right to ask if we are not going to deploy a significant amount of heavy armour what exactly are we going to offer. By the way I am certainly not suggesting we should invest in more armour but it does beg the question what are we prepared to do.

  3. I agree folks our priority is getting the RN and RAF up to the numbers and efficiency we need. Let’s not neglect the PBI-our boots on the ground. Incidentally the cheapest service to keep fit for purpose! Updating the whole challenger 2 force equates to 1 and half T31`s and 3 and a bit F35’s. Perspective is everything!

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