Germany

Army's Desert Rats Return To Germany For Simulated Exercise

7th Infantry Brigade, also called the 'Desert Rats', is known for defeating Rommel's Afrika Corps in the Second World War.

The Desert Rats have returned to German soil for a simulated exercise which included protecting an airport from an enemy division.

Soldiers from 2nd Battalion the Royal Anglian Regiment were among 400 personnel from the 7th Infantry Brigade, known as the 'Desert Rats', that were sent to the British Army's Sennelager Training Centre.

Until 2015, the Desert Rats had been based in Germany as an armoured formation.

Now stationed in the UK, the exercise marked their first big return to Germany.

The officers worked inside camouflaged trucks to coordinate the exercise.

Lieutenant Colonel Will Meddings, Commanding Officer of 2 Royal Anglian, said: "When you're inside the vehicles, when you’re inside the tent, all you've got is a map.

"All you've got are the voices that come over the radio and frankly that's no different to what you'd expect in a real battle."

"There are loads of lessons that we're learning, loads of errors that we're making that I would rather make now with a simulation underneath us, than make with several hundred soldiers from the battlegroup having to bear the brunt of those mistakes."

DESERT RATS BACK IN GERMANY camouflaged truck battle HQ Credit BFBS 200120.jpg
Troops worked inside camouflaged trucks during the exercise.

The Desert Rats are known for defeating Rommel's Afrika Corps in the Second World War and in their more recent history, they went to war twice against Saddam Hussein's Iraq.

Major Andy Bourne, Chief of Staff of 7th Infantry Brigade, said despite returning to the UK around four years ago "everything that was good about 7th Armoured Brigade has transitioned with it".

"We’re reinvigorated and it's brilliant to be back in Germany," Maj Bourne said.

The Brigade's return has also meant a heavier workload for Sennelager's simulators, with several battlegroups having to be tested at once.

Next month, the Desert Rats will take part in Exercise Wessex Storm - a large-scale field training exercise on Salisbury Plain.

Over the next year, Sennelager will host a series of larger and more intensive training exercises.