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Riflemen train for post-Afghanistan deployments

Soldiers from 5th Battalion The Rifles (5 RIFLES) have spent 3 weeks training with Warrior infantry fighting vehicles on Sennelager Training Area as part of one of the largest armoured deployments in recent years.

In light of the Army 2020 announcement, 5 RIFLES have been training hard to bring their core skills as an armoured infantry unit back up to scratch after their recent deployment to Afghanistan.

In their future role, as part of the UK’s reactive forces, 5 RIFLES will be at the forefront of any future armoured deployment.

As a result, this training has been designed to ensure the battalion’s primary skill set operating as infantry from armoured vehicles is at the highest standard for any future operations.

The exercise, which was conducted in sub-zero temperatures, covered dry training and live firing in the mounted, dismounted and integrated roles within a ‘return to contingency’ scenario.

The exercise saw 484 Riflemen deploy onto Sennelager Training Area in Germany where they lived out of their armoured vehicles - of which 99 deployed in total.

A Rifleman packs his kit
A Rifleman packs his kit ready to deploy onto the training area [Picture: Crown copyright]

The aim of the exercise was to prepare the battalion for the forthcoming exercise Bavarian Charger which will take place in Bavaria in June.

But more importantly it allowed the Riflemen to get used to fighting from, living off and maintaining their vehicles after their recent deployment as a ground-holding battle group in Afghanistan.

Captain Iain Hardman said:

Training in Sennelager has been extremely useful for the battalion after our recent tour of Afghanistan. Although we have not operated from armour in a while, it didn’t take us long to get back into the swing of things.

This is the most thorough level one collective training exercise I have been on and I am confident we are not only ready for our level three collective training exercise in Bavaria but also for any challenges the future may hold.

A Titan armoured engineer vehicle
A Titan armoured engineer vehicle makes its way to a bridging site on the Sennelager Training Area [Picture: Crown copyright]

The highlight of the exercise was a manoeuvre called an ‘obstacle crossing’ which involves armoured vehicles crossing a river or a gap with combat bridging mounted on an armoured engineer vehicle.

Challenger 2 tanks from C Squadron of the Queen’s Royal Hussars were also used to provide ‘overwatch’.

Lieutenant Colonel Charles Collins, Commanding Officer of 5 RIFLES, said:

This has been a useful field exercise for the whole battalion in order to deliver platoon-level training. The Riflemen have got used to living off, caring for and fighting from their armoured vehicles over a 3-week period in sub-zero temperatures.

Each level has been tested, from fire team to company headquarters to our logistic echelons, and we are now in a better position for exercises in Bavaria and Canada later in the year as well as for any return to contingency and our armoured infantry future under Army 2020.

5 RIFLES are an armoured infantry battalion based in Paderborn in Germany and are part of 20th Armoured Brigade. Under the recent rebasing announcement they will be based in Bulford from 2016.

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