Germany

British Troops Return To Sennelager Ranges In Germany

British soldiers have not exercised on the training area since March due to COVID-19.

British soldiers have returned to the Sennelager Training Ranges in Germany for the first time since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

UK troops have not used the facility near Paderborn since March, with 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment the first to return.

Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Dean Canham, said: "It’s a great opportunity for us to practise, not just on our vehicles and on all the ranges here, but also the deployment of the unit onto the continent, which obviously, as far as our readiness profile is concerned, that’s really important for us to practise."

The personnel have been using Warrior infantry vehicles on the ranges, with measures in place to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission.

Four-hundred soldiers are living and working in self-contained groups during the training period. 

Sergeant Brett Fellows told Forces News: "We have to sanitise the vehicles down.

"We have to ensure that the space and the distances, when possible, are adhered to."

COVID-19 has made it harder for overseas exercises to go ahead and some soldiers from 1 Mercian had only two weeks to prepare for Germany. 

Vehicle Commander, Lance Corporal James Broomhall, said: "For a lot of the new lads, lads that have never been abroad before, it’s quite daunting for them. This is their first time away. 

Soldiers are having to operate in self-contained groups to minimise the risk of contracting and spreading COVID-19.

"A lot of them at the start were sort of a bit down but once they got here,  got into their routine, they sort of picked themselves back up and it’s quite exciting for them, being away from home for the first time in a foreign country."

Other nations have been training at Sennelager in the absence of British troops

British Army’s Commander in Germany, Colonel Tim Hill, said he expects the facility will continue to be used for operations training "for now and for the foreseeable future".

1 Mercian is expected to return to their Bulford base in Wiltshire next month. 

The battalion is earmarked for an operational deployment next year.