Regimental Update: March 2018

Since the last update, the Regiment has moved out of the readiness year and into the committed year tasks. This is about supporting other brigades and formations conducting their training. However, we are still the most ready and highly trained tank regiment in the army and the training we will conduct this year will build our core skills.

In early December the Regiment hosted the CR2 forum. It was well attended with representation from the KRH, RTR, RWxY and multiple armour-facing staff branches across the army. The forum is an opportunity for the armoured community to get together and discuss common capability issues, look at future training opportunities and be updated on the CR2 Life Extension Programme. The output feeds a Capability User Board that informs GOC 3XX. We also took the opportunity to host NATO armoured regiments; we had good representation from 203 Panzer Bn and the 1st Regiment de Chasseurs with whom we have a long-established relationship, 2nd Bn 70th Armoured Regiment from the US Army also attended who we are building a relationship with.

Each February sees our annual pilgrimage to Bergen-Hohne. This year ‘A’, ‘B'(Comd & Recce) and ‘D’ Sqn fired; this included all LAD and support vehicles. ‘C’ (DofE) Sqn will fire in September in Sennelager. On the Annual Crew Tests, we achieved a 94% first-time pass rate across all vehicle platforms; this is well above the 80% required. By week three we were conducting live fire and manoeuvre with Recce and Tank troops on the same range within a tactical scenario. We also built on lessons learnt in Estonia, increasing the number of shots from the pintle-mounted machine gun. CR2 live firing always attracts many visitors, this year was no exception. We hosted delegates from 203 Panzer Bn, 2nd Bn 70th Armoured Regiment from the US Army, 20 Bde HQ, the Brazilian DA and the German Schützenvereine. As part of the ongoing regimental leadership development programme, Colonel Stuart Tootal came to speak to us about his experiences in command.

‘DofE’ Sqn, under Maj Gez Kearse, spent January to March back in the UK on Salisbury Plain providing tank support for courses at the Land Warfare Centre. Not only have they been conducting traditional courses like Crew Commanders and Troop Leaders, but they have also had the opportunity to work with 2 and 3 PARA deepening their understanding of armoured warfare in the urban environment. ‘DofE’ Sqn will have another two ‘rotations’ back in the UK, May to August and October to December. This amounts to a lot of time away from home but it is a fantastic opportunity to spend time on tanks and get familiarised with our future back door training area.

After a visit to the Regiment in August last year, Commander Field Army has been convinced to allow the UK to take part in the European tank competition this year. This is the third year of the competition and the first time the UK has entered a team. The honour will fall to Capt Barnaby Spink and his ‘all-star’ QRH troop. Participating countries this year are Austria, France, Germany, Poland, Romania, Sweden, Ukraine and the US Army in Europe. The competition runs in early June and consists of a variety of events over five days; tank gunnery, obstacle course, pistol shooting, artillery target indication (with live artillery) and AFV recognition to name but a few.

We are now starting to prepare ourselves for deploying to BATUS as the Opposition Force from May to the end of June. ‘A’ Sqn with Maj Mike Whitmarsh will be the Recce Coy and ‘D’ Sqn under the command of Maj Andy Bishop will be the Tank Coy. This is another great training opportunity where we will push the boundaries of mission command to the lowest level, experiment with drones and use quick planning cycles to get inside the enemies’ decision-making cycle. Our enemy will be the KRH BG, although great friends, their defeat will make our victory so much sweeter.

Success on the sporting front continued during the winter. The Alpine team finished a credible 6th in the Army championship, in Nordic Tpr Jones was the best novice at the Divisional championships and qualified to compete at the Army championships, a talent for the future. The Cresta team was a mix of officers and JNCOs, they finished 5th in the inter-regimental competition. For the first time the Regiment is developing a snowboarding team, they have had a couple of training events in the Alps and the plan is for them to compete at Army level next season. Most notable on the sporting calendar was the inter-sqn boxing held in November. An exceptional evening of determination and aggression, the event was live-streamed over the internet with 60,000 views. The overall winners were ‘A’ Sqn.

We have had some notable success on the personnel front, Damien Briggs-Wilson, Euan Johnston and Mick Burgess all being successfully selected for promotion to Lt Col. The talent within the WOs’ & Sgts’ have also been rewarded; six SSgts were selected for promotion to Warrant Officer following the board in February.

We celebrated ‘Paddies Day’ with a full day of sport, and an evening in the Sqn bars but not before we competed for the Astley Cooper Cup! Congratulations go to ‘A’ Sqn who won the inter squadron Duke of Edinburgh competition (Apr 2017 – Mar 2018) and were awarded the honour of being named ‘D of E’ Squadron for the next year.

Although the last four months have been packed full of activity we were able to take three weeks’ leave at Christmas and plan to have two weeks off at Easter before we enter another busy training period.

Major Mark Cubitt, Regimental Second in Command

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