In the first exercise of its kind, KNIGHTS VALOUR combined troops from the 51st Company, 39th Transportation Battalion, US Army, with 99 Postal Courier and Movement Control Squadron, 29 Regiment RLC.
The exercise took place from 20th-31st July at Mandalay training area in Sennelager training Camp and was designed to qualify soldiers at Collective Training levels 1 and 2 in the field as well as develop closer ties with our American twinned unit.
The scenario was based around a high readiness deployment and challenged the soldiers by having to operate in the field. The exercise was split into 2 phases, with the first focusing on individual trade skills. For the PC operators, this allowed them to move away from technological aids that would assist them in a standard post office counter and reacquaint themselves with manual accounting and mail distribution. The experience proved invaluable in validating the soldiers under WO2 Edwards-Colley and SSgt Toni Hill.
WO2 Edwards-Colley commented “As we move away from Op HERRICK and focus on the contemporary operating environment, it was important to ensure that the PC Operators in the Sqn were able to operate out of an austere setting. It also gave the opportunity for PC personnel to establish a forward counter service using tents and Land Rovers away from the IT systems they often rely on, ensuring that the Sqn can provide postal and courier support anywhere in the world at short notice.”
It presented an excellent opportunity, demonstrating that the Sqn still had the capability to provide postal courier and defence counter services from any location. LCpl Mitchelmore said of the exercise: “Having recovered from Op HERRICK last year, the Ex KNIGHTS VALOUR presented the first opportunity for me to test myself in the field and get back to basics within the PC trade.”
Under WO2 Barker, the MC det were also able to conduct rail, air and port recces, as well as conduct Movement Control Check Point (MCCP) processes to give an opportunity for all MC operators within the Sqn. WO2 Barker stated that:
“The Sqn has been so busy over the last 6 months post Op HERRICK that there is not always the opportunity to give the troops exposure to the wide range of MC tasks that they would be expected to fulfill. The exercise gave us the chance to send the Sect Comds out with the junior troops and expose them to rail, air and sea movements, including dangerous goods movement, in a controlled environment. They will have taken away a lot of experience from this.”
Phase 2 of the exercise saw 35 soldiers from 51st Transportation Company (US) conduct pre-deployment training over 2 days at Princess Royal Barracks (PRB) Germany. The troops conducted section and platoon level training which culminated in a joint PT session. This exposed the US troops to the rigours of Battle PT with a Gun Run around PRB’s 4 mile circuit. Mixed teams allowed the 2 nation’s troops to integrate with one other for the first time, as well as ensuring the competition was not dominated by 99 Sqn.
Sunday 26th July saw the troops deploy into the field. Over the week, the exercising troops covered a range of military skills, including nav, counter IED and battlefield casualty drill training, whilst building up from section to platoon level operations against a conventional and non-conventional enemy. Here, Sect Comds were put through their paces as they were tested on the delivery of orders and managing their troops in the field. There was also an opportunity for lessons to be given by instructors from both nations British troops traded ORPs with US MREs and both sets of soldiers were familiarised on each others weapon systems (M16 and SA80) and vehicles (Humvee and GS Land Rover). Pte Collingwood stated that:
“It was a great opportunity to train alongside the US. Whilst we operate similarly in many senses, their tactics and procedures differ slightly from our own. We learnt a lot from our time with them, and the exercise was something out of the ordinary.”
To further integrate the troops, a sect of US troops attached to the British Pl and vice versa. This allowed deploying troops the opportunity to live and fight alongside their US counterparts in the field, all under the watch of both Commanding Officers. The US troops were also shown a field service delivered by Padre Brutus Green which gave them an insight into how British field services are conducted.
The exercise culminated in a dawn attack on the final day, with both platoons working alongside each other as they conducted deliberate attacks and advance to contacts against the enemy, finishing with a 1.2km casualty extraction. Sgt Burn who was part of the planning team that
co-ordinated the Ex told us that:
“This was the first time that multinational troops have had the opportunity to train together in this way. I am hopeful that we can now build on this and go on to bigger and better things in the future as we strengthen the ties between our units. The exercise achieved its aims whilst also highlighting areas where further training is required. This will allow us to develop further exciting training in the future.”
Following ENDEX there was an opportunity for both sets of soldiers to enjoy a BBQ and a beer together. This further strengthen the relationship between the 2 units; after a week on ORP, Sgt Smith’s cooking provided welcome reward for the hard work that preceded it.
Overall Ex KNIGHTS VALOUR drew praise from both sides of the Atlantic and there was a keen interest in moving forward and completing similar training in the future.