Irish Guard soldiers

British Army soldiers from Number 1 Company (No 1 Coy), The 1st Battalion Irish Guards, have participated in a multinational peacekeeping exercise, code-named Quick Response 2013, in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH).

Carried out in three phases throughout April, the annual exercise was attended by 85 UK soldiers alongside their Austrian, Turkish and Hungarian counterparts to rehearse their potential call-up as one of the intermediate reserve units of the European Military Force (EUFOR).

The first phase involved successful activation and a quick deployment and integration of two light-infantry companies from the UK and Hungary into the EUFOR structure.

A EUFOR multinational battalion comprising UK, Hungarian, Austrian and Turkish companies joined with a unit from BiH military to further boost their professional training and international interoperability in the second phase, while the third featured a visitor’s day.

The drill finished with an assault on a collection of buildings, with each participating country responsible for a separate objective.

"It’s the sort of thing we’ll be doing in Afghanistan post-2014 and I can see it applying across other parts of the world as well."

No 1 Coy commander major Tom Oakley said the soldiers were already well prepared for the European mission having served as part of the UK Operations Battalion in June 2012.

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"Given the way the British Army is going in the future, exercises like this will become more common so this provides a good test bed for us, for EUFOR and for the service as a whole," Oakley added.

Operational Commander general Sir Richard Shirreff, who witnessed the crowd control demonstration part of the exercise, said the drill represented genuine conflict and crisis prevention, which the British Army is well-suited.

"It’s the sort of thing we’ll be doing in Afghanistan post-2014 and I can see it applying across other parts of the world as well," Shirreff said.

Primarily designed to build the capacity of the Bosnian armed forces, EUFOR permanently maintains 600-strong contingent in theatre, with additional 600 troops on standby in six European Union (EU) countries for quick response to potential unrest.

Image: 1st Battalion Irish Guards soldiers close in on their objective during Exercise Quick Response 2013 in Bosnia. Photo: courtesy of Steve Dock, Crown copyright.

Defence Technology