Ex Eagle Snapper

Engineers have parachuted into their first major exercise since their Regiment’s name was changed to reflect their airborne role and heritage.

23 Parachute Engineer Regiment jumped into Exercise Eagle Sapper as it rehearsed its role providing close combat engineering to 16 Air Assault Brigade, the British Army’s rapid reaction force. The exercise placed the unit’s 400 Regular and Reserve soldiers on a mission to support an ally nation facing the threat of an insurgency backed by a hostile neighbour.

The serials began with the Regiment, which changed its name from 23 Engineer Regiment (Air Assault) earlier this year, parachuting into the troubled region as a show of force. The troops then spread out across Salisbury Plain to build bridges across rivers, establish water supply points capable of providing 40,000 litres of  drinking water every day and construct defensive positions.

The week-long training culminated with a test of the sappers’ infantry skills as 51 Parachute Squadron assaulted a strongpoint prepared and defended by their colleagues in 9 Parachute Squadron.

Lance Corporal Ollie Seymour, 28 from Harlow, is part of the unit’s Recce Troop, which established a concealed observation post to watch over the target for 48 hours before the attack.

The 28-year-old from Harlow said: “As engineer recce our key role is to look at infrastructure, such as electricity and water supply in an area, and establish routes for troops to advance along. Observing a target ahead of an infantry assault is a secondary capability we have that it is good to practice. We’ve cut out a hide inside a bush and would happily work from this location for up to a week, and longer if we were dug in.

“It was great to have jumped into the exercise. Parachuting is the specialist skill we offer as a Regiment and we all feel proud to have that recognised in our new name.”

Lance Corporal Mark Langley, 26 from Redditch, said: “It’s been a varied and tough exercise. We’ve been living on the field and tested on the full range of our combat engineering skills, with a strong focus on our ability to serve as infantry as well.

“The parachute jump went really well for me with clear skies, not much wind and a soft landing. There’s a modest pride within the Regiment about our new name and the recognition of what we do.”

Lieutenant Colonel John Clark MBE, Commanding Officer of 23 Para Engr Regt, said: “Across the year our two regular squadrons, supported by our reservists, have a busy schedule working alongside other units in 16 Air Assault Brigade. Exercise Eagle Sapper is our chance to come together as a Regiment to focus on maintaining our core skills as engineers.

“To carry out a parachute insertion was both an excellent run-out for our airborne capability and a fitting way to celebrate our recent name change. Parachuting defines our role, history and ethos as a Regiment.”

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