A French VAB VTT Armoured personnel carrier, followed by a British Warrior during Exercise Dragon Charge in Estonia 16-17 August 2022 CREDIT Crown Copyright
A French VAB VTT armoured personnel carrier, followed by a British Warrior during Exercise Dragon Charge in Estonia, from 16-17 August 2022 (Picture: Crown Copyright).
Estonia

Ex Dragon Charge: Royal Welsh train with NATO allies to help prevent war in Europe

A French VAB VTT Armoured personnel carrier, followed by a British Warrior during Exercise Dragon Charge in Estonia 16-17 August 2022 CREDIT Crown Copyright
A French VAB VTT armoured personnel carrier, followed by a British Warrior during Exercise Dragon Charge in Estonia, from 16-17 August 2022 (Picture: Crown Copyright).

More than 800 British, French and Danish troops have conducted Exercise Dragon Charge on the Tapa Central Training Area in Estonia to reaffirm their ability to operate effectively and efficiently together.

Across the four-day exercise – which involved main battle tanks, armoured fighting vehicles, light infantry, anti-tank assets and engineering capabilities – the battlegroup conducted training serials in urban warfare, assault breaching and night operations with the focus on learning lessons from the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

It was the final, major, force-on-force exercise for the British Army's Royal Welsh-led Battlegroup, which comes to the end of its six-month tour in Estonia serving as NATO's enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) on Europe's eastern flank.

Lieutenant Colonel Edward Willcox, Commanding Officer of Royal Welsh, said: "It was an important week to bring our partners together under the leadership of the Royal Welsh one final time as the enhanced Forward Presence, to level up the already extensive training that has taken place during this tour. 

"Nothing can replace the experience of operating alongside one another; it both demonstrates the capability of the eFP and creates bonds between teams, units and nations that will last long into the future."

Troops from 1st Battalion the Royal Welsh took part in Ex Dragon Charge alongside their NATO allies – French company Les Loups and the Danish Viking company – to level up their skills and ensure they are prepared to deter any threat of attack from hostile nations and to reduce the risks of a nuclear war.

The training was also a chance to ensure cohesion with the recently deployed and additional British Battlegroup to Estonia, the Agile Task Force, 2 Rifles Battlegroup.

In line with the main aim of Op Mobilise –  to prevent and not provoke war – as ordered by General Sir Patrick Sanders, the Chief of the General Staff (CGS), this exercise proved that the British Army is doing what is expected for future success. 

Speaking at the RUSI Land Warfare Conference in June 2022, the CGS explained what the British Army needs to do to succeed. 

"The British Army, in conjunction with our NATO allies and partners, must be in place or at especially high readiness – ideally a mix of both," he said.

"Tripwires aren't enough. If we fail to deter, there are no good choices given the cost of a potential counterattack and the associated nuclear threat. 

"We must, therefore, meet strength with strength from the outset and be unequivocally prepared to fight for NATO territory."

He went on to say: "Mobilisation is now the main effort. 

Watch: UK troops help Estonia prepare Russia defence in Exercise Hedgehog.

"We are mobilising the Army to help prevent war in Europe by being ready to fight and win alongside our NATO allies and partners. 

"It will be hard work – a generational effort – and I expect all ranks to get ready, train hard and engage," he added.

Ex Dragon Charge allowed the Royal Welsh Battlegroup a final occasion to put into practice a total of 10 months of overseas training. 

During this time, their tactics, techniques and procedures have been finely honed through many individual unit exercises, cross-exposure to their peers, and cultural engagement activity which enriches the human component of interoperability.

It also put to the test the soldiers' and officers' communication skills, technical competencies, risk management and, crucially, it connected them once again with the now-familiar Estonian terrain. 

This helped to ensure that, if required, these soldiers will be ready to defend Estonia for wider European security.