Exercises

Exercise Yorkshire Strike: Army Reservists Prepare For 2021 Deployments

Members of 4 YORKS, 4 LANCS and The Queen's Own Yeomanry have been getting ready to deploy to Kenya and Estonia.

More than 100 British Army reservists have been out on exercise across three counties after their American deployment was cancelled last year.

Reserves from 4 YORKS, 4 LANCS and The Queen's Own Yeomanry have been practising a wide range of skills across Cumbria, Durham and Yorkshire.

It is part of Exercise Yorkshire Strike, which forms crucial preparations ahead of deployments to Estonia and Kenya later in the year.

Personnel have been honing their skills in winter weather, including driving, as well as practising medical evacuations.

During their multi-county exercise, the reserves faced thick snow and cold weather conditions.

"There's definitely some difficult parts to do this course with the snow on the hills.

"It does make it quite challenging at points, but it's been great to be able to practise those [skills]," Captain Meg Oakeley, Training Officer C Squadron, The Queen's Own Yeomanry, said.

Army Reserves on Exercise Yorkshire Strike in north of england DATE UNKNOWN filed on 230221 CREDIT BFBS.jpg
The reserves faced tough weather conditions during Exercise Yorkshire Strike similar to what they may face in Estonia later in the year.

One of the key elements of Exercise Yorkshire Strike is learning to drive.

The weather conditions in which they trained are similar to those they can expect in places like Estonia, where a blanket of snow is a regular occurrence for several months of the year.

"[The snow] has made driving quite interesting," Sergeant Simon Dawson, from 4 YORKS, told Forces News.

"The students have quite enjoyed it – it's something that they don't normally get to do, so it's added an extra element to the training," he said.

After their international deployment to the United States was cancelled in 2020, the reserves were tasked with COVID-19 support operations.

Lieutenant Adam Wisdish, Platoon Commander, 4 YORKS, explained they had planned to deploy to the US and exercise alongside the Michigan National Guard, a similar version of the Army Reserves.

However, the two-week exercise, known as Exercise Michigan Strike, had to be cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

"Due to COVID, we had to cancel that and get focused entirely on UK operations, so we shifted focus from that [exercise] to helping out on Operation Rescript, which was our effort helping test people in Yorkshire and the North East," Lt Wisdish said.

Army Reserve shooting trial training Exercise Yorkshire Strike in north of england DATE UNKNOWN filed on 230221 CREDIT BFBS.jpg
The reservists had to call off Exercise Michigan Strike in the US last year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The part of the UK-based exercise that took place in Durham saw the reservists learn how to manage a live range from both ends.

Sergeant Major Adrian Bushby, Safety Supervising with 4 YORKS, told Forces News the aim of the course was to ensure the reservists could "safely supervise on different types of ranges, different positions and different distances".

Lance Corporal Michael Gater, who is a Reserve Infantry Soldier with 4 YORKS, explained: "We've been doing the whole safety aspect of running the range, so it's not quite at the RCO [range conducting officer] level, but it's like at the low level – putting on the vests, coaching through.

"The idea is that we're coaching through junior soldiers that haven't really had much experience firing."

The two-week training course also covers elements of medical evacuations in preparation for their deployment to Kenya at the end of 2021.

"In Kenya we are providing force protection to the British Army Training Unit," Lt Wisdish said.

We will be providing force protection for the battalion that is going through its assurance training at that point."