3rd Battalion The Rifles training on exercise.
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British Troops Prepare For Iraq Deployment With Live Firing Exercise

Soldiers from 3rd Battalion The Rifles have been preparing to deploy as part of Operation Shader.

3rd Battalion The Rifles training on exercise.

Soldiers from 3rd Battalion The Rifles have been stepping up their training as they prepare to deploy to Iraq, as part of Operation Shader.

3 RIFLES are one of the British Army's four new 'Strike' Infantry Battalions and have recently converted to a Mechanised Infantry.

While on exercise, Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Gary Sawyer, explained the battalion's new role:

"We aim to operate with more agility, in-depth and to operate independently of the normal systems that will be in place to support a normal battlegroup, so it requires our riflemen to think more independently."

More than 600 soldiers from the Battalion have been training in Norfolk during a phase of Exercise Wessex Storm, building up to working in a battlegroup and perfecting their skills ahead of deployment.

Troops were conducting a live firing exercise on the Stanford training area, known as the STANTA ranges.

Anonymous soldier

The ranges span more than 11,000 hectares, morphing from open ground to woodlands and building clearances.

Rifleman Callum McCarron told Forces News: "When it's a big attack like this, you get to see all of them but in a bigger battle picture they would all work together.

"When you step back and you can see everybody doing their different parts, it is good."

The deployment to Iraq will see the riflemen train local forces as part of Operation Shader - the UK's contribution to the fight against the so-called Islamic State (IS).

The Operation began as a humanitarian aid mission but has grown into a complicated mission to try and defeat IS.

3 RIFLES were formed on 1 February 2007 and later that year completed their first tour of Iraq on Operation Telic.

11 years on and the riflemen are returning to the country, once at the centre of worldwide controversy. 

Corporal Darren Sharpe, was a part of Operation Telic, yet he expects this deployment to be a different experience. He said:

I'm really looking forward to it.

"Its been a bit of a time since I was last there and I'm looking (forward) to see how things have changed and also this time, having an influence on teaching their forces."

Next month, 3 RIFLES will head to Salisbury Plain for further training before deploying to Iraq.

Anonymous British soldiers