Ex Joint Warrior Tests Our Ability to React

16 Air Assault Brigade and other elements of the Joint Helicopter Command have shown their ability to rapidly deploy to the right place at the right time and carry out a series of complex missions in a range of environments.

16 Air Assault Brigade’s Air Assault Task Force – made up of the 2 PARA Battlegroup and a Joint Helicopter Force led by 3 Regiment Army Air Corps – was tested on Exercise JOINT WARRIOR, the largest annual military exercise in Europe. The AATF is held at high-readiness ready to deploy anywhere in the world to conduct the full range of military operations from non-combatant evacuation operations to warfighting.

The exercise placed the troops on a mission to support an ally tackling an insurgency backed by a hostile neighbour. After receiving its activation order, the 1,600-strong AATF converged on the Joint Air Mounting Centre (JAMC) in South Cerney, Gloucestershire, the departure point for troops heading off on operations. Once processed, the troops and equipment moved to MoD St Athan in south Wales to plan a mission to capture Keevil Airfield, 100 miles away on Salisbury Plain.

Once that objective was seized in a helicopter assault, the soldiers then reset themselves to plan and conduct further missions. The JHF’s Apache attack helicopters flew back into Wales to strike simulated enemy positions at Pembrey Sands and then the 2 PARA BG parachuted on to the STANTA Ranges in Norfolk to assault a village.

Brigadier Nick Borton DSO MBE, Commander of 16 Air Assault Brigade, said: “Joint Warrior provided an excellent opportunity for 16 Air Assault Brigade to work alongside the Royal Navy and RAF in its role as the British Army’s very high-readiness formation for contingency operations. This realistic and well-resourced training reflects the type of operations that the brigade could be called on to do, both in terms of the tactical challenges and their expeditionary nature. The missions that we had to achieve in a very short space of time are a powerful demonstration of the unique flexibility, reach and agility of airborne and air assault troops.”

The 2 PARA BG is built around the airborne infantry of Colchester-based 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment bolstered by artillery, engineers, medics, signallers and logisticians. The Joint Helicopter Force includes Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force helicopters providing transport, attack and reconnaissance support to troops on the ground, and is currently commanded by 3 Regiment Army Air Corps, based at Wattisham Flying Station in Suffolk.

Exercise Joint Warrior involved 13,000 military personnel from 14 countries, more than 55 warships and 70 aircraft and helicopters. Taking place twice a year, the training aims to test how the Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force work together and with allied forces.

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