Page 77 - The Rifles Bugle Autumn 2019
P. 77

                        A (Salamanca) Company
Exercise Iron Wolf saw Salamanca Company deploy to Lithuania as part of a red (enemy) force that included two Lithuanian battalions, a Polish mechanised company and a Danish recce platoon. The main training audience was a German Battle- group shortly due to begin their deployment to Lithuania as part of the NATO Enhanced Forward Presence, aimed at deterring the threat to the East.
Arriving in Lithuania, the Company conducted some refresher urban training before moving to force integration training (FIT) with the Lithuanian Battalion that we were to work with. This included a charismatic speech from their Colonel on his high expectations from 3 Rifles and our role as his ‘secret weapon’, before also mentioning that the camp we were staying in was surrounded by buildings that you’d expect to see in Chernobyl!
Ask any of the Riflemen on their time in Lithuania and something that will definitely be raised is the weather; this exercise saw two different extremes. For the majority of the time the temperature was at the 30-degree mark, peaking at 35 degrees on our infiltration mission through a swamp forest – as sweaty as it sounds! At the other extreme was high winds and rain, which came as welcome relief when it hit ‘Camp Chernobyl’ for the first time following the high temperatures. However...30 minutes later, the winds were so strong that Riflemen were dangling off the tents trying to keep them in place and the rain was so heavy that we had to start digging trenches to protect our kit. Soon after, golf ball sized hail was falling on the digging Riflemen, with everyone making the quick dash to grab their helmets and body armour to protect them! In the aftermath the Company joined the other nations in helping them to protect their kit from the weather - a good team bonding exercise prior to our first mission together on the FTX.
The first mission of the FTX saw the Lithuanian Brigade on the offensive against the German Battlegroup in defensive positions around the village. Our mission here was to infiltrate down the flank and then to provide fire support onto a camp that the Polish mechanised company were to assault. A key point to note here was that the area the Company had been allocated was what the Company 2IC described as ‘Swamp Forest’. This, however did not slow down their infiltration as throughout the mission they were the forward line of troops ahead of their mechanised counter- parts. As they infiltrated down the flank, there was no sign of the enemy until 8 hours and many kilometres later, 3 Platoon came upon a German command post which turned out to be their ISTAR headquarters. It was later said that the Germans did not think that anyone would or could go down that flank due to the size of the swamp forest.
The Company’s final mission was to disrupt the German advance before they hit the Battalion’s Main Defensive Position, covering the western side of the battlefield where it was expected that the
                                                 As you can see...
German axis of advance would be. The Germans did not disappoint, as they sent their whole battle- group along one track through the Company AO. The Company defeated two Leopard 2 tanks, an IFV and important engineering and air defence and their momentum had been disrupted before they hit the Battalion MDP. OC 2 Platoon was adamant that he could have taken out the Battle- group’s entire armour if the exercise staff hadn’t stopped him from doing so!
At the conclusion of the exercise, all the nations involved put on a dynamic and static display to demonstrate the capabilities of each nation. The final few days in Lithuania saw the Riflemen have a competitive sports day and also go to the capital, Vilnius on a cultural day where they visited the KGB museum, explored the city and had some downtime. Ultimately, the exercise was a fantastic experience to see how other nations operated and work within a much larger context.
Lt Tim Clarke
Officer Commanding 3 Platoon
Fighting in forests was a feature of the exercise...

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