Page 12 - Chiron Calling Spring 2021
P. 12

                Exercise WESSEX STORM
by Pte Jones 102 MWD Sqn
On the first week of November 2020, six dog handlers from 102 MWD Sqn, Air Assault
Task Force (AATF) Troop deployed to Salisbury Plain Training Area (SPTA) on Exercise WESSEX STORM under the 2PARA battle group. Attached to 2PARA was a platoon of Paratroopers from the
US 82 Airborne and a company’s worth of paratroopers from 2REP French Foreign Legion. The exercise was meant to take place in Kenya but due to Covid-19 restrictions
it was moved to SPTA. The dog teams sent on exercise consisted of 3 Protection Teams (Pte Wise, Pte Leos and Pte Gordon) 2 AES Teams (Cpl Smith also acting in a C2 role and Pte Jones) and 1 HASD team (LCpl Miller). Also, on the exercise in Observer Mentor roles were Sgt Mather, Sgt Cox and LCpl Goument.
The first 2 weeks of the exercise consisted mainly of the low-level section training for the Coy’s of 2PARA Battle Group, leaving the Handlers and other attachments plenty of time to conduct their own training. This gave all the MWD teams much more time and freedom to conduct continuation training away from their home barracks
in Rutland. The accessibility and size of areas free to use on SPTA meant all handlers could work in different areas at any time of day and AES teams could conduct longer and more varied searches. Protection then got the opportunity to work on patrols and OPs in a much less populated and congested environment. Throughout the first phase of the exercise, MWD teams
had the opportunity to get involved in Heli training on board an RAF Chinook with the French Foreign Legion. This was met with mixed enthusiasm from the dogs as most of them had never been on board
a helicopter before. There was also the chance to conduct some battle inoculation by jumping on an LFTT. This helped the handlers gain an insight into how their MWDs would react later when the exercise really ramped up.
Phase two of the exercise put
the companies of the 2PARA battle Group through a Round Robin
stage, each lasting over 2 days.
This focused on an urban phase,
a rural phase in the surrounding woodblocks and fields, and a subterranean phase held at Corsham Mines. During the urban phase
the Protection teams were used for both rear and flank protection, the guarding of CPERS and in public order scenarios. The AES teams were used to search for potential IEDs and weapons caches on predetermined buildings inside the village. Only
the Protection asset was needed for the rural phase, during this they were used to conduct static and roaming sentries when in harbour locations. The subterranean phase was a bit of a shock for handler and dog alike. The AES and Protection Teams were left at the rear and called up when requested or
were used for rear protection and searching of predetermined areas
for weapons and potential IEDs.
This whole phase of the exercise allowed the handlers to integrate and get to know the troops within
the companies they would soon be attached to for the rest of the exercise.
The third phase (Exercise ARCHER) was a deliberate operation played out over 3 days. This took place just prior to the FTX so that the whole Battle Group could stretch out, warm up and gauge where they stood before going into the final phase. Exercise ARCHER saw a rise in tempo compared to the round robin phase and a lot more tabbing. With less taskings and scenarios for the MWD teams it gave us more of an insight into the SOPs of all units and nationalities present.
The fourth and final phase conducted over 10 days saw the deployment of over 1200 personnel. After much information gathering and planning the majority of the Battle Group headed off on a deliberate attack onto a village.
This took place through Heli insertion via Support Helicopters. On disembarking the air frames,
the troops immediately came under IDF and small arms fire, which
was a very exciting time for all the dog teams involved and provided excellent experience due to having never disembarked an airframe
into enemy fire before. After the initial assault onto the village was complete, this saw the AES asset deploy with an EOD task line
to further exploit enemy bomb making sites and weapon hides. The Protection teams were pushed out with the companies to secure and set up a defensive perimeter should the enemy launch a counterattack to take back the Village. After the
  10 / Chiron Calling

   10   11   12   13   14