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South West Territorial Army unit training with Challenger 2 Main Battle Tank
2:11pm Tuesday 1st October 2013 in Warminster
A south west-based Territorial Army (TA) unit is currently training with the Challenger 2 Main Battle Tank - one of the most sophisticated vehicles used by the British Army.
More than one hundred TA personnel from The Royal Wessex Yeomanry (RWxY), who will soon become part of the Army Reserve, are on Salisbury Plain Training Area in Wiltshire, as they train to become crewmen on the iconic armoured vehicle. It is the first time in several years that the unit has had the opportunity to train with Challenger 2 on Salisbury Plain.
The Reservists - who are based at Squadrons in Bovington in Dorset, Salisbury in Wiltshire, Cirencester in Gloucestershire and Barnstaple and Paignton in Devon, are spending a week on the Plain taking part in Exercise WESSEX DRAGON, which is their annual training camp.
Trooper Elliot Metcalfe, 22, is a university graduate from Corfe Mullen in Dorset and serves with A Squadron in Bovington.
“The training stands today have been very good and very informative on all different aspects of the Challenger 2, and I have enjoyed using the laser technology system which is fitted to our weapons so we can simulate firing and hitting a target.”
Captain Damien Thursby, 31, is a Project Manager and former Regular soldier who lives in Salisbury, Wiltshire. He serves with B Squadron in Salisbury.
“Since the Future Reserves 20 announcement we are actually getting to see the tanks more and having more opportunities for all the guys to get out on exercise with Regular units, which is great.”
Corporal Nathan Howard, 34, is a Deliveryman for a wine company who lives in Lyneham, Wiltshire and serves with C Squadron in Cirencester, Gloucestershire.
“The is the first time we have been able to take the tanks out as a troop working under our own steam as the TA and it is very beneficial learning to live with our tanks out here for three or four days.”
Trooper Kane Worsnop, 23, is a part-time security worker who lives in Yellands near Barnstaple, North Devon, and serves with D Squadron in Barnstaple.
“It has been really great out on the Challenger as it is a totally different experience to the simulators such as learning about basic maintenance of the engine bay.”
These TA personnel are preparing to fulfil a vital role in the future British Army as, by this time next year, The Royal Wessex Yeomanry will formally become the only Armoured Reinforcement unit in Britain.
The Regiment will be working towards fully integrating with the British Army’s three Regular armoured units; The Queen’s Royal Hussars, The King’s Royal Hussars, and The Royal Tank Regiment who will be based together in Tidworth, Wiltshire.
As a result The Royal Wessex Yeomanry will be one of only a handful of Reserve units to be part of the British Army Reactive Forces, which are held at a state of higher readiness and are prepared to deploy anywhere around the World to protect Britain’s interests and ensure national security.
This challenging and exciting new role for the RWxY was bestowed upon them following the recent publication of the White Paper: ‘Reserves in the Future Force 2020’.
This document detailed the restructure of the British Army and the creation of a new, well trained, well funded, well equipped and fully integrated Reserve Force which is due to change from being known as the Territorial Army to become known as the Army Reserve.
In order to successfully fulfill this enhanced new role, the RWxY will work closely with the aforementioned Regular Regiments and, from now on, will train alongside them in preparation for any possible future deployment.
“Integration is absolutely vital so we have borrowed for this training eight tanks from one of our paired Regular units The King’s Royal Hussars and a crew from 1st Royal Tank Regiment which is another. We also have instructors from these units permanently based with us," said Lieutenant Colonel Chris MacGregor, 40, Commanding Officer based in RWxY HQ Bovington.
“But it is a philosophy and that is what you are seeing demonstrated on this exercise... There is a desire on the part of the Regular force work to invest in their reservists and likewise the reservist wants to see the best capability they can and that comes through great training and opportunities like this.”
Exercise WESSEX DRAGON was also an opportunity for the Royal Wessex Yeomanry to use and train on its new fleet of Wolf Scout Land Rover vehicles which were recently delivered to the unit's squadrons as part of the Government’s ongoing £1.2 Billion investment to revitalise the Army Reserve.
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