The UK’s Lead Armoured Battle Group (LABG) is currently in action in a Polish-hosted multi-national NATO exercise.
Exercise Dragon has brought together armed forces from several NATO allies to practice and test multinational, joint combined arms manoeuvres at the Divisional level, and the UK’s contribution predominately involves the Army.
The UK has committed around 800 troops to the exercise, and more than 130 vehicles, including Challenger 2 main battle tanks and Warrior infantry armoured fighting vehicles.
Poland, Germany, the US and Canada make up the other nations taking part in the five-week, two-part exercise, which began in September and runs until the end of October.
The first phase, a UK-only exercise, was carried out at the Drawsko Pomorski Training Area. The second phase, which begins today (19 October) at the Orzysz Training area, will involve all five nations.
The exercise involves up to 10,000 troops from the five participating nations, and is designed to exercise Polish Divisional and Brigade HQs while concurrently allowing integrated training at the Company and Battlegroup level by UK, Polish, German and American force elements.
Exercise Dragon is part of the UK contribution to NATO’s Assurance Measures and, as well as delivering significant training value, is designed to provide assurance to eastern Allies.
Poland is a key NATO ally and we value our strong bilateral relationship with them. The UK remains determined to build on this relationship further as we move forward.
UK participation in Exercise Dragon provides an opportunity to test our forces to their readiness as the UK prepares to lead NATO’s Very High Readiness Joint Task Force in 2017.
Exercise Dragon underlines NATO’s purpose of collective defence and demonstrates the UK’s commitment to defend Allies.
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said:
In a darker and more dangerous world, it is vital that we work with our NATO allies so we can respond to any threat. That’s why the UK is playing a key role in Exercise Dragon, contributing nearly 1,000 troops, and over 130 vehicles and tanks.
The exercise will help preparations for NATO’s new rapid reaction taskforce, which the UK will provide troops for every year into the next decade and which we will lead in 2017.
Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Garner, Commanding Officer of the 1st Battalion Yorkshire Regiment, which is part of the LABG, said:
This has been a great exercise for 1 YORKS. Getting our vehicles and equipment out to Poland was a third of the exercise, and the exercise out here has been top notch.
The Polish terrain adds a different dimension to our training which we can’t achieve in the UK. Working so closely with our NATO allies has been great training for the guys. Obviously we have different ways of doing things, but bringing all this together in line with NATO doctrine has been challenging, but highly rewarding.