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Paratroopers have practised a mission that could come off the pages of their proud history as they prepare for future operations around the world.
C Company, 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment carried out an airborne assault on Salisbury Plain as part of Exercise WESSEX STORM.
Some 100 paratroopers jumped from two RAF C-130J Hercules flying at 800 foot onto the Fox Covert drop zone. The Colchester-based troops jumped in Overhead Assault Mode, wearing body armour and webbing with weapons and daysacks strapped to their legs.
The soldiers regrouped on the drop zone and sent out reconnaissance patrols before a night attack to capture the mock village at Copehill Down. After fighting building-by-building and street-by-street to secure the position, they defended it until relieved by the mechanised infantry of 1st Battalion The Scots Guards that night.
Major Bob McKay, Officer Commanding C Coy, said: “As we move on from Afghanistan and prepare for the next operational challenges, we are going back to basics in our training and focussing on our core skills as airborne infantry. This particular mission is exactly what The Parachute Regiment was created to do, and it can be found many times in our history – to parachute in, capture a strategic objective by surprise and then hold it until heavier forces can relieve us.
“This exercise has been an interesting opportunity to work with the Scots Guards and understand the different way they operate as mechanised infantry, how we can work together and what we can learn from each other.”
The parachute jump was an opportunity for the paratroopers to practise a key skill for their role in the Air Assault Task Force (AATF), which is held at high readiness to deploy anywhere in the world to conduct the full range of military operations.
Private James Newson, 19 from Grimsby, said: “An overhead assault jump puts us on the ground in a matter of minutes and, if the situation demands it, we would be ready to start fighting as we land. I was the 17th man to jump out of the second aircraft on the first wave, and it was a very impressive sight to see all the parachutes in the sky. Anyone who says they’re not nervous before a jump is lying but, for me, once I’m out of the door training takes over and I’m thinking about the landing and what I need to do on the ground to achieve the mission.”
Exercise Wessex Storm saw the British Army's airborne and armoured reaction forces come together, with the fast and light forces of 16 Air Assault Brigade training with slower but more powerful troops from 12 Armoured Infantry Brigade. It placed troops in a scenario where the airborne infantry had carried out the theatre entry phase of an operation and is clearing the way for heavier mechanised forces to take over.
Photographs by Corporal Andy Reddy.
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British Army Press Release Dated 21 Nov 2014