British paratroopers have been training alongside the Royal Army of Oman over the last two weeks to hone the infantry skills of both armies' soldiers.
Exercise Wessex Thunder has seen Colchester-based 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment (2 PARA) working with the Omani Western Frontier Regiment on Salisbury Plain.
The two-week-long exercise concluded this week with a co-ordinated attack on the urban warfare training facility at Copehill Down.
2 PARA launched the initial assault, with the Omani troops arriving by Chinook to reinforce the paratroopers and complete the capture of the village.
The attack was watched by Brigadier Hamad al Nabhani, Commander of the Omani 11th Infantry Brigade. He said:
There is an old and strong relationship between Oman and the British Armed Forces, with joint training every year. This exercise is about Omani soldiers gaining from the experience that 2 PARA has developed on operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and learning these lessons for ourselves.
It is great for us to work together, using the excellent facilities at Copehill Down and learning from British operational experience. Through good preparation and their previous experience, the Omani soldiers have demonstrated their adaptability and willingness to work alongside friendly forces.
Lieutenant Colonel Adam Dawson, Commanding Officer of 2 PARA, said:
This exercise has been very well-resourced to focus on the basic building blocks of infantry work. It has helped to identify skills that need further refinement for both the Omanis and 2 PARA.
The Omanis have excellent soldiers and officers who have demonstrated high levels of energy and a willingness to learn and work alongside my troops.
Private James Reilly is no stranger to working with foreign troops having served alongside Afghan National Army troops in Afghanistan last year. He said:
This exercise has been hard but we’ve done good work to develop skills such as fighting in urban areas. It’s been interesting to see how the Omanis approach the same job in a different way and they’re enthusiastic to learn from us.
2 PARA are part of 16 Air Assault Brigade, the British Army’s largest brigade with 7,400 soldiers, combining the speed and agility of airborne and air assault troops with the potency of Apache attack helicopters.
The brigade deployed to Afghanistan between October 2010 and April 2011 and since its return has focused on a number of commitments, most significantly its core role as the Airborne Task Force, ready to deploy on operations anywhere in the world at short notice.