Fast-paced Exercise Emerald Atlas has tested the readiness of paratroopers to serve as the British Army’s airborne rapid reaction force.

Across 72 hours, Exercise Emerald Atlas saw B Company 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment (B Coy, 3 PARA) deployed without notice on a simulated mission to evacuate British citizens from a country where security is rapidly deteriorating.

The unit was alerted in the early hours of Monday morning at their base at Merville Barracks, Colchester and travelled to RAF Odiham to carry out mission planning and preparation with helicopter crews from the RAF’s 18 Squadron on Tuesday.

They were then flown into Longmoor training area by Chinook helicopters where they secured positions and gathered the people to be evacuated, while dealing with the threat from an increasingly hostile local population.

The troops and civilians were flown back to RAF Odiham late on Wednesday night, with B Coy resetting itself to be ready for further operations in the area.

3 PARA is currently serving as the lead unit in the Air Assault Task Force (AATF), which is ready to deploy anywhere in the world to conduct the full range of military operations, from non-combatant evacuation operations to war fighting. For the AATF role 3 PARA’s airborne infantry is supported by artillery, engineers, signallers, medics and logisticians from 16 Air Assault Brigade, plus support and attack helicopters from Joint Helicopter Command.

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