This blog has covered the importance of the Defence training estate for our Armed Forces before, but did you know that we also make it available for training foreign forces? My role is to liaise between the friendly militaries who want to use our facilities and the UK training estate teams. I provide appropriate training advice, guidance and support to our foreign partners, making sure they get maximum value for their training.
I bring more than 30 years of experience serving with the Parachute Regiment in the USA, Falkland Islands, Belize, Sierra Leone, Afghanistan, Iraq, Hong Kong, and the Middle East.
In 2018 we've hosted a number of foreign forces training in the UK. These include:
- The Belgian 2nd Commando Battalion and 3rd Parachute Battalion in Sennybridge Training Area for 2 weeks. They were undertaking low level live firing marksmanship training from section level up to company level tactical training as part of their annual testing. The battalion managed to do some serious mountain walking on Pen y Fan, the highest mountain in south Wales, as part of the programme.
- A Potential Officer Training Course for Royal Netherlands Marine Corps on Dartmoor Training Area for 2 weeks. The recruits practised low level tactics and patrolling skills, involving day and night navigation with an endurance test to conclude the exercise.
- The Belgian 2nd Commando Battalion again, this time on Otterburn Training Area for a further 2 weeks. This exercise involved a lot of dry training (which means not using live ammunition) and working with helicopters, such as fast roping from the aircraft into key points on the training area.
- The Royal Netherlands Marine Corps at Garelochhead Training Area for 3 weeks. The marines use this exercise to carry out mountain training. It involves live firing on some marksmanship ranges with all types of weapons. After this they progress to the Ardgarten Forest to carry out deep insertion patrolling in the mountains. They work mainly in the Garelochhead and Kinlochleven areas due to the serverity of the terrain. This helps to build their endurance.
This doesn’t include joint exercises, such as Exercise JOINT WARRIOR, a NATO exercise which happens twice every year. In spring’s JOINT WARRIOR, for example, we welcomed troops from the Danish Panserinfanteribetaljon Jydske Dragonregiment (2 JRD), incorporating troops from Latvia, Lithuania, Sweden and Estonia as well as Denmark.
They joined the British 3 PARA battlegroup on Salisbury Plain to practice using the air manoeuvre capabilities provided by 3 PARA and British aircraft from the Army Air Corps and RAF to support the Danish objectives on the ground.
Foreign forces are overwhelmed by the variety of what our training estate offers and the training value it provides. They’re also pleased with the support they receive from the training areas and our regional organisations when conducting their training. I am looking at using different training sites to suit the constant change in global military training requirements.
Naturally, making our training estate available to foreign forces in this way is also an important tool to foster closer relationships and understanding between our countries.
We’ve blogged before about using land on the training estate to generate income for the MOD when it isn’t being used for training. That might be farming or even as a location for TV or films. We also generate income from our allies when they use our land to train. We should not underestimate the true value of this to maintain the infrastructure of our ranges in the UK and not forgetting our overseas training areas such as Canada, Germany, Kenya and Belize.
Making the training estate available to friendly forces has several benefits, but at its heart, the more we can help our allies, the better for all of us.