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The Prince of Wales has visited soldiers from 1st The Queen's Dragoon Guards on the Castlemartin ranges in Pembrokeshire.
Troops from the regiment, known as the Welsh Cavalry, were training in west Wales as part of Exercise Pashtun Tempest, involving more than 100 soldiers from C Squadron and its attached arms.
This exercise is being conducted in preparation for a potential 6-month tour in Afghanistan as part of the International Security Assistance Force, starting later this year.
His Royal Highness, who is Colonel-in-Chief of the Queen’s Dragoon Guards, was shown how soldiers train to counter the threat posed by improvised explosive devices using various types of detection equipment.
In biting cold winds on the military ranges, the soldiers also displayed how they would respond to life-threatening scenarios, subsequently carrying out first-aid training under combat conditions.
The Prince of Wales spent time talking with dozens of the soldiers in different locations regarding the variety of skills they were putting into practice.
Lieutenant Colonel William Davies, commanding officer of 1st The Queen’s Dragoon Guards, said:
Today we’ve been really lucky to have our colonel-in-chief visit us on the cusp of St David’s Day. Some of the troopers were quite wide-eyed to meet the future monarch and it’s a real morale-boost, not least because we are preparing for a potential deployment to Afghanistan in the coming months.
Should that be the case this would be a fantastic way to send us off. You can see the enthusiasm he has for meeting the soldiers and he spends time finding out about their preparations and roles.
He was interested in the equipment that we’re now issued with which really is second-to-none, as well as our upcoming move in 2015 when we transition to Swanton Morley in Norfolk after spending the best part of 30 years based in Germany. It’s been a special day for all of us.
During Exercise Pashtun Tempest soldiers from the regiment and its attached arms have also fired heavy machine guns, grenade machine guns and general purpose machine guns from a number of platforms including the new Husky and Foxhound armoured vehicles.
Trooper Lewys Hutchings, aged 22, from Fairwater, Cardiff, a crewman with C Squadron, said:
Celebrating St David’s Day is something that my regiment is really proud of, so this visit so close to the event was great for us.
Prince Charles took a lot of time speaking to individual soldiers in cold conditions and he took a real interest in what we were doing. We’ve been training hard in west Wales so this was a nice bonus.
Castlemartin ranges offer an ideal opportunity for the combined arms live fire exercise where all crews can be tested on various aspects of tactical movement and judgemental targets.
The range package for the Queen’s Dragoon Guards complements upcoming exercises in Thetford and also previously completed training near to the regiment’s home base in Sennelager, Germany.
Minister for the Armed Forces, Mark Francois, said:
Our armed forces have a deep and enduring relationship with the royal family and our units are always delighted to host visits such as these.
Should they be deployed to Afghanistan, the Queen’s Dragoon Guards will make an important contribution to security for the country which, in turn, will safeguard the UK’s own national security.
The training that His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales witnessed today demonstrates the professionalism and capability they will bring to any future role.