Reserves

6 Rifles Reservists Train Ahead Of Peacekeeping Deployment

The battlegroup, which is 95% reserves, will deploy on Operation Tosca in Cyprus at the end of the month.

More than 200 reservists from 6 Rifles have begun their preparation for deployment to Cyprus where they will work with the United Nations' peacekeeping force.

The exercises at Nesscliff Training Area, Shrewsbury, are part of their pre-deployment training for Operation Tosca.

As part of the training, they are learning how to react to scenarios based on real-life events they could encounter while on the island and de-escalate situations as quickly as possible.

In the ops room, the reservists keep tabs on the exercise and learn to liaise and coordinate on the most effective plan of action.

"This team here and this location is all about having eyes on, and an understanding of, what the guys are up to on the ground," Major Tom Roden said.

"It'll be a very similar setup for ourselves in Cyprus.

"The area that we're covering will be slightly larger and there'll be more people that we are responsible for."

One of the daily tasks the reservists will face while on the UN peacekeeping mission will be patrolling the island's buffer zone.

Reservists 6 Rifles train ahead of Op Tosca at Nesscliff Training Area in Shrewsbury 090920 CREDIT BFBS.jpg
The reservists are training ahead of the deployment at the end of the month.

At Nesscliff, they are also practising their patrolling skills, using radios to communicate any activity which could threaten the peace.

"It's important for those that patrol the buffer zone and so we can hoover up any information and feed it back to the op rooms, so they can de-escalate any situations that we may come across," Corporal Jessica Hindley told Forces News.

"There might be violations, construction violations, move forwards or any issues with immigration or people in the buffer zone who shouldn't be there," she added.

With over 200 reservists in the battlegroup, just 5% of its members are regulars - for many, it will be their first deployment.

Sergeant Siduduzile Ncube, who is a general practice nurse with the Army, said she is excited about experiencing the sense of "togetherness" with the reserves as "one body".

She said: "This is my time to spend time with them [reservists]. I haven't in the past - I've just always worked with the regulars."

The reservists will be tasked with patrolling the 180km buffer zone which also runs through the capital, Nicosia.

The battlegroup will deploy for six months at the end of September, having quarantined for two weeks prior and once they land.

Captain George Harrison said: "We've been really fortunate because COVID hit us before our training pathway started for Op Tosca.

"Inevitably, there are going to be times when you're conducting tactical-level training that social distancing guidelines have [to be] broken.

"However, this is done for the minimum period possible and where it can't be avoided - like in the use of vehicles - face masks are worn.

"We're house-holding in our small groups to, hopefully, minimise the risk of cross-contamination."

In Cyprus, they will take over the from 7 Rifles - the first time the reserves will hand over to another reservist force.