Army's Global Response Force put to the test on Salisbury Plain

The British Army's Global Response Force (GRF) are being put through their paces on Salisbury Plain Training Area in Wiltshire as part of Exercise Wessex Storm.

The exercise aims to provide an opportunity for the Army to demonstrate its 'Future Soldier' concept.

2nd Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles (2 RGR) and 1st Battalion The Royal Irish Regiment are being validated – challenged to prove their readiness to respond to international crises with troops on a simulated mission testing their ability to seize and hold terrain.

2 RGR started the exercise by capturing Keevil airfield in a helicopter assault, with the heavier forces of 1 R IRISH following with an air landing from Royal Air Force transport aircraft.

Captain Toby Eddings, of 2 RGR, said: "This is an opportunity to work with all arms, the broad spectrum of the British Army's capabilities, as well as joint operations with the RAF to conduct the rapid air landing and practice that air movement element.

"For our soldiers it is exposure to the Army beyond the infantry, to understand what the engineers and artillery bring and their part in the wider picture, and what is available to them should we deploy overseas."

As the force advances across Salisbury Plain, 2 RGR is being enabled to fight, move, and live by the engineers of 70 Gurkha Parachute Squadron.

They are also being supplied with food, fuel, and ammunition by 15 Air Assault Support Squadron Queen's Own Gurkha Logistic Regiment.

Soldiers from the 2nd Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles disembark from the RAF A400M Exercise Wessex Storm 28042023 CREDIT MOD Crown Copyright.jpg
Soldiers from the 2nd Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles disembark from the RAF A400M (Picture: MOD Crown Copyright).

In February, for the first time in more than 30 years, Canadian troops were in the UK training alongside British Forces on Exercise Wessex Storm.

A platoon of reservists from the Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa was put to the test alongside soldiers from the Royal Regiment of Scotland for the battlegroup exercise.

Wessex Storm was an important exercise for 4 SCOTS ahead of its deployment as part of Nato's Very High Readiness Joint Task Force.

Watch: Canadian troops join Royal Regiment of Scotland for Excercise Wessex Storm in February.

Lance Corporal Amrit Thapa, recently returned to the UK with 2 RGR following the battalion's five-year posting in Brunei, has been training for fighting in built-up areas.

"We were more focused on the jungle whilst overseas but didn't forget our urban tactics and exercising on the vast area of Salisbury Plain has sharpened our skills and drills," he said.

"We have been operating in a very complex urban training environment. It is very challenging but really good. We've learnt a lot."

2nd Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles during live fire raid on Salisbury Plain on Exercise Wessex Storm 19042023 CREDIT MOD Crown Copyright.jpg
Soldiers from the 2 RGR prepare to launch an assault on a small village hut during a live fire raid on Salisbury Plain (Picture: MOD Crown Copyright).

Capt Eddings said: "The bottom line of Exercise Wessex Storm for 2 RGR is it prepares us to be the Air Manoeuvre Battle Group within 16 Air Assault BCT.

"It is looking at us to react quickly to operations at short notice in a variety of conditions, against an unknown enemy force, ready for situations that may occur in the future as we saw in Afghanistan with Op Pitting, and currently as we see is happening in Sudan."

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