UK soldiers

The UK Army personnel from the D Company of 5th Battalion The Rifles participated in Exercise Pashtun Warrior to prepare for future operations at the Salisbury Plain training area in central southern England.

Involving manoeuvres in Warrior armoured fighting vehicles and operations on foot, the exercise was aimed at offering the participants, including more than 140 soldiers a taste of ‘real-life’ in Afghanistan.

Operating from Patrol Base Kohima, the soldiers conducted numerous platoon and company level operations on over 50km² of training area in some of the wettest conditions experienced in recent times.

Royal Anglian Regiment Field Training Unit (FTU) Staff Officer 1 lieutenant colonel Mick ASTON said the mission specific training for Afghanistan is the most well-resourced, sophisticated and complex training event delivered by the FTU.

”Exercise Pashtun Warrior is the cornerstone collective training event and delivers precisely what is required to prepare forces for Op Herrick,” Aston said.

"[The] excellent facilities enable the FTU to replicate the conditions in Afghanistan and for the soldiers to really test themselves."

”The present format is the product of years of evolution in mission specific training and infrastructure development; we need to be ready to train like this to meet future contingency challenges.”

Defence Infrastructure Organisation Service Delivery Training South West Principal Training Safety Officer lieutenant colonel, Mark Hiskett, said: ”Salisbury Plain is a large and diverse training area and the challenging terrain and excellent facilities enable the FTU to replicate the conditions in Afghanistan and for the soldiers to really test themselves.”

Apart from Merlin helicopters and simulated unmanned aerial systems (UAS), the exercise was also supported by around 300 personnel, including 140 civilian contractors as Afghan role players and interpreters.

The simulated UAS provided participants with a virtual video feed of the happenings on the ground using the tactical engagement system that records the movements and actions of exercising troops, enabling them to capture objective evidence for post-exercise learning.

Image: 5th Battalion The Rifles soldiers during Exercise Pashtun Warrior on Salisbury Plain. Photo: copyright of the Crown.

Defence Technology