Army Reservists swapped their day jobs to hone their skills on the battlefield this week as part of a 400-strong battlegroup exercise.
Soldiers of the Queen’s Own Yeomanry (QOY) light armoured reconnaissance regiment, the Army’s eyes and ears on the ground, joined Exercise WESSEX STORM for several days on a bitterly cold and waterlogged Salisbury Plain.
The QOY Reservists, drawn from squadrons in Newcastle, York, Wigan and Chester, have been working with their paired Regular armoured reconnaissance regiment The Light Dragoons.
On operations the QOY often deploy well in front of other friendly forces to gather intelligence on the enemy, and this exercise tested their ability to do just that. It saw them using the powerful and agile Landrover RWMIK (Revised Weapons Mounted Installation Kit) which is equipped with both the General Purpose Machine Gun, the Browning .50 Heavy Machine Gun and the latest BOWMAN digital battlefield communications system, along with surveillance optics, including night vision cameras.
WESSEX STORM, a two-week-long simulated mission against a fictional enemy, was staged over two exercise areas: Salisbury Plain and STANTA in Norfolk. It has created a dramatic and realistic test for the soldiers involved, complete with Apache attack helicopters, light artillery guns and mortar fire.
Trooper Rob Brett, 24, from Wigan works as a cavity wall engineer in his day job, but as a soldier with QOY’s B Squadron he is a vehicle gunner. He said: “The aim has been to build us up to a level of training that’s equal to our Regular counterparts, so that when they deploy on operations and ask for our help we are at the same readiness level; we can just slot in.”
Major Alex Mallin, Officer Commanding of the QOY Squadron which was working with the Battlegroup, said: “This has been an opportunity for us to deploy a formed squadron into the field for the first time and work alongside the Light Dragoons; an important stepping stone in our own training. My personnel have all delivered exactly what I had hoped at this stage. They’ve been working hard, performed well and learned something too.”
The Light Dragoons, known as ‘England’s Northern Cavalry’, recruits from the North East of England and Yorkshire.
For more information on the Queen’s Own Yeomanry visit http://www.army.mod.uk/armoured/regiments/26881.aspx