Territorial Army (TA) soldiers from the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) have been receiving hands on training with millions of pounds worth of current operational vehicles and equipment on Salisbury Plain.
Personnel from TA Units across the UK, soon to be known as the Army Reserve, were taking part in Exercise ‘Southern Bluebell’ on the Salisbury Plain Training Area in Wiltshire last weekend (October 18 -20).
Its aim was to update their knowledge and competency at their trade, developing them as individuals, so that ultimately they are in a position to be mobilised and support soldiers in the Regular Army.
Battle Damage Repair was part of the training on offer, allowing soldiers to use protected patrol vehicles like those being used on operations in Afghanistan such as Mastiff 2 which costs £1.5 million.
The Mastiff 2 along with the likes of Ridgeback, Coyote, Husky and Wolfhound used during the training weekend have come into service through the Ministry of Defence’s Urgent Operational Requirements (UOR.
These have been funded by Treasury money to provide fast equipment solutions to the ever-changing operational demands of Helmand.
Corporal Mark Davis, 30, has served 12 years with the REME and is attached to The Royal Wessex Yeomanry in Bovington, Dorset. He lives in the town and works repairing military vehicles for The Defence Support Group (DSG) which is also based near his TA unit.
“I get plenty of opportunity to train and I went to Germany in July of this year with 150 Recovery Company which was an excellent host and it was a brilliant camp doing recovery.
“I have also been on annual camp with my regiment, The Royal Wessex Yeomanry, out here on Salisbury Plain with the Challenger 2 Tank, so I am very busy with the TA.
“I have also worked in Afghanistan with my civilian job with DSG,” he added.
“I spent 54 weeks in Camp Bastion repairing Army vehicles which was quite a long stint but very, very good and worthwhile, I learnt a lot.”
There were a whole range of training stands for REME Reserve trades delivered by both Regular and TA instructing staff. This ranged from the basics for Potential Tradesmen moving through to Armourers learning to repair a whole range of operational weapons systems from a pistol through to a Light Machine Gun.
Lieutenant Colonel Kevin Harty is the Course Director and has served 35 years in the TA. He is now retired from his civilian working life as Head of Business Management for British Telecom.
“With something in the order of ten percent of those in theatre being from the TA there is quite a large call on the reserves now, and under Army 2020 and Future Reserves 20 that is going to become even more prevalent.
“So it is important that they learn on operational equipment as that is what they will be working on in Afghanistan or other future deployments or even at our training overseas training bases such as BATUS in Canada.
“With a blend of experienced TA and Regular instructors – the benefits speak for themselves – as they share it with their colleagues.”