Page 72 - The Rifles Bugle Autumn 2019
P. 72

The past year for the Third Battalion has been one of great opportunity supplemented by significant challenges. Whilst the year has been dominated by two specific events – Ex WESSEX STORM and Op SHADER in Iraq – we have also found the capacity to support Op ORBITAL in Ukraine, and deploy personnel to the US, Lithuania, Germany, Kenya and Oman.
Ex WESSEX STORM in September 2018 marked the culmination of our conversion to Mechanised Infantry and validated the Battalion at CT3 level, whilst also providing us the opportunity to exper- iment with new ideas as part of our Strike role in 1 Armoured Infantry Brigade. We took the opportunity to rehearse a tactical march in order to deploy to the exercise, with a road move from Edinburgh to Salisbury Plain (via Thetford) – a concept that tested our REME LAD and the Quartermaster’s department to the maximum. With our Mastiff and Jackal vehicles safely delivered to SPTA, we embraced the Strike concept with the typical Rifleman spirit of innovation and boldness, testing new concepts and doctrine in the face of a doggedly determined enemy force from the SCOTS.
As the exercise entered its final phases at the end of September, the Battalion was already starting to conduct preparatory activity and planning for its deployment on Op SHADER 8. Following an excep- tionally busy period of pre-deployment training, approximately 200 Riflemen deployed to Iraq in December for a 6-month tour as part of the global coalition effort to defeat Daesh. Our tour saw signif- icant change in the laydown of UK forces – we closed down one company location at the start of our tour, but ended it with troops delivering training to Iraqi soldiers in three new ones, and importantly offered many Riflemen their first taste of life on opera- tions. I am confident that our Riflemen made a real and lasting difference supporting the Iraqi Security Forces to contain the threat from extremist groups within Iraq, and that all of our personnel completed
the tour with a sense of personal pride and many newly developed skills and experiences.
Op SHADER, however, only required a minority of the Battalion’s total strength. Some 550 personnel remained behind in Edinburgh, and with many of the Battalion’s Officers and SNCOs deployed, this represented a significant leadership challenge to the remaining chain of command. I am proud to say that it is one which they handled with the utmost professionalism. The bolstered and rebranded Salamanca Company, some 250 strong, deployed teams on operations to Ukraine, took part in major exercises in Oman, the United States and Lithuania, and conducted much more activity in the UK in support of experimentation to refine the ‘Strike’ concept that will soon materialise in the form of the new Mechanised Infantry Vehicle (MIV), providing those not deployed to Iraq with plenty of opportunity elsewhere.
Away from operations and exercises, it has been pleasing to see that Adventurous Training, oft-over- looked during busy periods, has really flourished in the form of mountain biking exercises overseas and a number of concentrations taking advantage of access to the mountains and lochs of the Scottish Highlands. Our football team continues to flourish, consistently reaching the final stages of many competitions but with the final trophy still remaining elusive. Our Nordic Ski Team triumphed once again, Infantry champions for the second year in a row and some impressive individual results at the Divisional and Army level.
The coming year promises much – further Strike experimentation exercises, reacquaintance with our mechanised vehicle fleet after a long period away, and numerous opportunities for overseas exercises. Importantly, the Battalion will remain at the forefront of operational activity, contributing to a number of tasks globally and preparing for many more.
Lt Col Gary Sawyer MBE Commanding Officer
Fire control orders barked out on Ex WESSEX STORM

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