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Royal Welsh Troops Ordered Home From Germany Training Exercise Over COVID-19

The armoured infantry unit was not expected to return to its Wiltshire base for at least another 10 days.

Troops from 1st Battalion, The Royal Welsh have been ordered home from a training exercise in Germany due to the global coronavirus outbreak.

Soldiers arrived at the British training ranges at Sennelager, near Paderborn, at the end of February.

The armoured infantry unit was not expected to return to its Wiltshire base for at least another 10 days.

An official statement from the Battalion said: "We can confirm that in the light of the COVID 19 and its continued impact, the decision has been made to stop all training activity with orders to return to the UK in the near future.

"We are currently in the planning stages for the clean down, handover and extraction."

Before the cancellation, Forces News went to Sennelager find out more about the exercise.

No armoured infantry unit had trained there since summer 2019, when 20th Armoured Infantry Brigade returned to the UK.

1st Battalion, The Royal Welsh led the reintroduction of Warrior live firing, but intermittent downpours made target practice challenging.

To the so-called 'Welsh Warriors', however, if it is not raining, it is not training.

The troops spent time in the Combined Arms Tactical Trainer - Sennelager's computer-simulated environment.

Personnel used the virtual world to rehearse and perfect Infantry Fighting Vehicle maneouvre skills.

Lieutenant Colonel Ru Streatfeild, Commanding Officer, 1st Battalion, The Royal Welsh, said: "There are resources here that we haven’t had in other training areas, some of which directly contribute towards our capabilities."

"We can confirm that in the light of the COVID 19 and its continued impact, the decision has been made to stop all training activity with orders to return to the UK in the near future. We are currently in the planning stages for the clean down, handover and extraction."

Built decades ago, during the Troubles in Northern Ireland, Sennelager's urban training facility uses 'simunition' - harmless live training rounds.

What has been named Exercise Gothic Dragon, involved other tests - mechanics were busy tending to vehicles which had not been used for years.

The chance to train in Germany seems to have been welcomed.

Sergeant Michael Adamson, D Company, said: "Massive training area. Brings a lot more to the game that what we can do over in the UK."

Corporal Ryan Arthur, D Company Anti-Tank Platoon, told Forces News: "I love it out here. Germany is one of my favourite places to come with the Army, so the fact that we are coming back is brilliant.”

The next major exercise for 1st Battalion, The Royal Welsh, will be on Canada's Alberta prairie in 2021, ahead of a trip to Estonia where they will lead a multinational NATO battlegroup.