News story

Army reserves train on Salisbury Plain

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Army reserve soldiers from the Royal Wessex Yeomanry are this week training with Challenger 2 tanks on Salisbury Plain.

A Challenger 2 deploys smoke to cover movement [Picture: Richard Watt, Crown copyright]
A Challenger 2 deploys smoke to cover movement during an exercise

More than 100 soldiers are training to become crewmen on the armoured vehicles and this is the first time in several years that the unit has had the opportunity to train with Challenger 2 on Salisbury Plain.

The reservists are spending a week on the Plain taking part in Exercise Wessex Dragon, which is their annual training camp.

The exercise is also an opportunity for the unit to use and train on its new fleet of Wolf Scout Land Rover vehicles which were recently delivered to the unit’s squadrons as part of the government’s ongoing £1.2 billion investment to revitalise the Army Reserve.

Trooper Elliot Metcalfe said:

The training stands today have been very good and very informative on all different aspects of the Challenger 2, and I have enjoyed using the laser technology system which is fitted to our weapons so we can simulate firing and hitting a target.

Troops work on extracting a casualty from a tank
Troops work on extracting a casualty from a tank [Picture: Richard Watt, Crown copyright]

Captain Damien Thursby said:

Since the Future Reserves 2020 announcement we are actually getting to see the tanks more and having more opportunities for all the guys to get out on exercise with regular units, which is great.

Corporal Nathan Howard said:

The is the first time we have been able to take the tanks out as a troop working under our own steam and it is very beneficial learning to live with our tanks out here for 3 or 4 days.

These reserve personnel are preparing to fulfil a vital role in the future British Army as, by this time next year, the Royal Wessex Yeomanry will formally become the only armoured reinforcement unit in Britain.

Troops being briefed before an exercise
Troops being briefed before an exercise [Picture: Richard Watt, Crown copyright]

The regiment will be working towards fully integrating with the British Army’s 3 regular armoured units, the Queen’s Royal Hussars, the King’s Royal Hussars and the Royal Tank Regiment, who will be based together in Tidworth, Wiltshire.

As a result, the Royal Wessex Yeomanry will be one of only a handful of reserve units to be part of the British Army’s reactive forces which are held at a state of higher readiness and are prepared to deploy anywhere around the world to protect Britain’s interests and national security.

This challenging and exciting new role for the Royal Wessex Yeomanry was bestowed upon them following the recent publication of the white paper ‘Reserves in the Future Force 2020’. This document detailed the restructure of the British Army and the creation of a new, well-trained, well-funded, well-equipped and fully integrated Reserve Force.

In order to successfully fulfil this enhanced new role, the Royal Wessex Yeomanry will work closely with the aforementioned regular regiments and, from now on, will train alongside them in preparation for any possible future deployment.

A Challenger 2 engages an enemy position
A Challenger 2 engages an enemy position using laser sights – a pyrotechnic element adds realism to the visual simulation [Picture: Richard Watt, Crown copyright]

Lieutenant Colonel Chris MacGregor said:

Integration is absolutely vital so we have borrowed for this training 8 tanks from one of our paired regular units, the King’s Royal Hussars, and a crew from the 1st Royal Tank Regiment, which is another. We also have instructors from these units permanently based with us.

There is a desire on the part of regular forces to invest in their reservists and likewise the reservists want the best capability they can get and that comes through great training and opportunities like this.

The UK Reserve Forces play a vital part in our nation’s defence. Find out how you can get involved and what is on offer for Reserves.

Salisbury Plain Training Area is maintained by the Defence Infrastructure Organisation, which delivers the Training Service, enabling Defence training users to live, work, train and deploy at home and overseas.

Published 1 October 2013