News story

Troops get back to basics on Salisbury Plain

Soldiers have been getting back to the basics of war-fighting whilst exercising on Salisbury Plain.

Troops from the 1st Battalion Irish Guards have successfully completed 2 weeks’ training on Exercise Wessex Storm, which was designed to get them away from the Afghanistan-specific training that has occupied our troops for so long.

The training was varied, and focused on fighting in built-up areas and training for chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear warfare, as well as fighting in woods and forests. It also included elements of practising casualty evacuation without helicopter support.

Over 500 soldiers took part in the exercise, with the Irish Guards joined by 2 platoons from Nijmegen Company of the Grenadier Guards and some individual officers from the 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards.

They were also exercising with a company of the Royal Army of Oman and attached arms from 21 Engineer Regiment, 4 Regiment Royal Artillery, 14 Signal Regiment, 1, 2 and 4 Military Intelligence Battalions of the Intelligence Corps, and reservists from the London Regiment.

The aim of the exercise was for the 1st Battalion Irish Guards to simultaneously plan and work as a battle group (BG), operating within a brigade context. The exercise was broken down into a week of company-level battle exercises followed by a week’s field training exercise for the whole BG.

Lieutenant Colonel Ed Boanas, commanding officer of the 1st Battalion Irish Guards, said:

Exercise Wessex Storm was a great opportunity for the 1st Battalion Irish Guards. We were hugely well supported by the Royal Army of Oman, the Grenadier Guards and small teams from the London Regiment, the Royal Artillery, Royal Engineers, Royal Signals and the Royal Army Medical Corps.

We were tested by the Field Training Unit and up against a wily enemy from 3rd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment.

It was a hard and rewarding exercise, operating on foot across the whole of Salisbury Plain, often by night and from hasty harbour areas, with expeditionary logistics and a live and thinking enemy.

Tactical engagement simulation was excellent and the 3 objectives of Greenlands Farm, Copehill Down and Imber provided a proper and challenging test for the battle group. Salisbury Plain was ideal for this.

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

Lieutenant Colonel Mark Hiskett, Principal Training Safety Officer, DIO Operations Training South West, said:

DIO’s priority is to support our Armed Forces as they prepare for operations. Salisbury Plain is a large training area and the rugged and diverse terrain is ideal for exercises such as Wessex Storm.

We are pleased to be able to offer the environment and facilities that enable our military personnel to train effectively and refresh their skills.

At over 38,000 hectares (94,000 acres), Salisbury Plain is theUK’s largest training area and offers first-class and diverse training facilities to enable the British Army to meet its training requirements.