As their colleagues were making their way to work through the morning rush hour, 40 men from across the South West were preparing to climb on board state of the art Armoured Fighting Vehicles; Challenger 2 Main Battle Tanks.
These men are Army Reservists who lead ordinary lives with ordinary jobs as carpenters, accountants and mechanics, but they also serve in the Royal Wessex Yeomanry (RWxY), the South West’s Army Reserve Cavalry Regiment.
Normally based at Squadrons in Bovington, Salisbury, Cirencester, Barnstaple and Paignton, the 40 Reservists spent their weekend being rigorously tested at Five Tips Range in Dorset; one of the premier firing ranges in Western Europe.
The exercise was designed to make sure they were ready to fulfill roles as Reserve crewmen for the Challenger 2 Main Battle Tank; a job that will play a vital role in future British Military operations.
Click here to see a picture gallery of the live firing exercise.
By this time next year the RWxY will be the only Armoured Reinforcement Unit in Britain and well on their way to fully integrating with three Regular armoured units; The Queen’s Royal Hussars, The King’s Royal Hussars, and The Royal Tank Regiment.
As a result, the RWxY will also become one of only a handful of Reserve units to be a part of the British Army Reactive Forces.
They will be held at a state of higher readiness compared to other Reservists and prepared to deploy anywhere around the World to protect Britain’s interests.
This challenging new role was given to the RWxY following the publication of the Government White Paper ‘Reserves in the Future Force 2020’ (FR20).
FR20 detailed the future structure of the British Army and how it will operate and the creation of a new, well trained, well equipped and fully integrated Reserve Force.
In order to fulfill this high profile future role, the training at Five Tips Range in Dorset was designed to challenge the Reservists and to give them experience with the Challenger 2 Main Battle Tank during a Fire and Manoeuvre Exercise (FMX).
The team worked together to fire the Challenger 2’s main armaments, the 120mm gun and the 7.62mm coaxial machine gun, to engage multiple targets whilst travelling at around 25 mph across difficult terrain.
With some of the projectiles travelling in excess of 1,000 metres per second it called for supreme levels of concentration and teamwork.
Hours of hard graft had been put in by the Reservists crews in state-of-the-art simulators in preparation for this high-pressure exercise.
Chris MacGregor Commanding Officer of the Royal Wessex Yeomanry said: “This exercise is the culmination of the tranining we have been doing over the past year.
“one of the things they have been practicing is that interaction and that integration
“They are having to come together and having to work in harmonised ways to get the effects that you see today and in many ways inside a Challenger 2 Tank you will find a microcosm of all the changes we are making to the army.”
For more information on the White Paper: ‘Reserves in the Future Force 2020’ go to: www.army.mod.uk/news/25606.aspx.