Tag: British

Swift Response 17-2: Airborne Operation

A British Soldier prepares to pack up his parachute after conducting an airborne operation during Swift Response 17, Phase II (Photo Credit: Staff Sgt. Kathleen V. Polanco)

Hohenfels, Germany – During Swift Response 17, Phase II, multinational paratroopers jumped from a C-130 Hercules outside of the Hohenfels Training Area, Oct. 9, 2017.

Swift Response 17-2 is an annual, U.S. Army Europe-led exercise focused on allied airborne forces’ ability to quickly and effectively respond to crisis situations as an interoperable multi-national team.

A British Soldier puts his weapon into operation while preparing to maneuver off the drop zone during Swift Response (Photo Credit: Staff Sgt. Kathleen V. Polanco)

The first airborne operation during SR 17-2 included 120 British and 166 French paratroopers jumping at 800 feet above ground level onto a drop zone that was approximately 800 by 800 meters in size. The British paratroopers jumped with combat equipment while the French did not.

Swift Response takes place at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Hohenfels, Germany, Oct. 2-20.and includes more than 6,000 participants from Bosnia-Herzegovina, France, Italy, Lithuania, Netherlands, Poland, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States.


Polish, British foreign affairs and defence ministers to convene in London

Polish Foreign Affairs Minister Witold Waszczykowski, his British counterpart Boris Johnson, alongside Polish Defence Minister Antoni Macierewicz and his opposite number Michael Fallon are to meet in London on Thursday.

The meeting, which marks the sixth such event held within the format since it was first launched in 2010, is a follow-up on a gathering of the four officials held in Edinburgh in January.

The officials are likely to touch on post-Brexit collaboration within the framework of multinational organisations, including the United Nations Security Council and NATO, the PAP news agency reports. The ministers may also discuss security issues alongside the presence of British soldiers on Polish soil.

The second despatch of 150 British troops from the Light Dragoons reconnaissance regiment from Catterick is currently on its way to Poland and will begin their mission as part of NATO’s multinational forces mid-October.

According to PAP, another topic likely to be debated on Thursday is the future Polish-British bilateral defence treaty. In September, British Deputy Defence Minister Mark Lancaster announced that the pact would be signed this year.

The bilateral talks in London come ahead of the 21 December Polish-British cross-governmental consultations in Warsaw, an event to be attended by Prime Ministers Beata Szydło and Theresa May, along with other top officials. (aba)

Source: PAP


Estonia: Company of British battalion to carry out exercise in Saaremaa

TALLINN, Oct 06, BNS – A company of the British battalion is to carry out a two-day exercise on Saaremaa Island and is to also meet with local residents.

The Estonian Kaitseliit (Defense League) volunteer corps said that the 130-strong British company is to arrive in Saaremaa on Sunday and will practice on foot patrols on Tagamoisa Pensinsula on Monday and Tuesday. The British troops on Wednesday play a match of football with FC Kuressaare, visit English language classes in local schools and display their equipment in the courtyard of Kuressaare Castle.

“It is very positive that a number of subdivisions of NATO allies stationed in Estonia plan cooperation training with the subdivisions of the Saaremaa region of the Kaitseliit (Defense League) volunteer corps and with the participation the naval, air force and army units,” Lt. Col. Raul Opik, officer of the civil-military cooperation of the naval subdistrict of the Saaremaa region of the Kaitseliit, said. “The people of Saaremaa will have the opportunity to closely see and experience the equipment of the allies participating in these cooperation trainings.”

“The joint exercise to be held in Saaremaa help us see and ensure that the member states of the alliance take our collective defense need seriously and NATO deterrence is working in close cooperation with our local units,” Opik said.

Strike aircraft from the Maryland National Guard visited Kuressaare in August and in cooperation with local Kaitseliit units participated in a two-day air defense exercise over the Gulf of Riga.

“During the exercise, the strike aircraft were stationed at the Kuressaare air field secured by Kaitseliit’s Saaremaa subdistrict and the training cooperation with the subdivisions of our region was also carried out on sea,” Opik said.


US Soldiers in Bulgaria, Romania deter aggression, assure allies

Paratroopers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade seize an airfield with a joint force entry during Saber Guardian 17 in Bezmer, Bulgaria, July 18, 2017. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Spc. Taylor Hoganson)

NOVO SELO TRAINING AREA, Bulgaria — The American military presence in Bulgaria and Romania “is critical to a strong Europe and a deterrence to Russian aggression,” said Col. Benjamin Jones, referring to the proximity of Russian forces in Crimea, just some 200 miles away.

That U.S. presence is at Camp Mihail Kogalniceanu, or Camp MK, Romania; and Novo Selo Training Area, or NSTA, Bulgaria, said Jones, who is the commander of U.S. Army Garrison, Ansbach, Germany, which oversees both sites.

It’s important for rotational units to maintain a continual presence in Romania and Bulgaria to effect an immediate response to aggression, said Maj. Brad Stark, operations officer for the Black Sea Area Support Team at Camp MK. His team oversees training there.

By maintaining that presence, should a conflict arise, there won’t be a need to conduct a forced entry in an anti-access, area denial setting since troops will already be on the ground, he reasoned.

Stark noted that NSTA, Camp MK and other military bases in both nations can and have hosted a maneuver force of nearly a brigade, along with NATO troops. The most recent exercise of that magnitude was Saber Guardian 17, which ended about a month ago.

In addition to such exercises, Camp MK hosts a small squadron of Royal Canadian Air Force combat jets, which are fully armed and conduct air-policing missions over the Black Sea, he said. The British Royal Air Force preceded them in their NATO-led role and the Portuguese are expected to eventually replace the Canadians.

Portuguese Air Force F-16AM

Additionally, the Marine Corps has a presence of 1,300 members of the Black Sea Response Force at Camp MK, who are serving as a quick-reaction force, he added. They will depart soon for a training mission in Norway.

Just recently, 1st Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment left after a nine-month rotation. They will be replaced by 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment next month, he said.

Currently, 2nd Battalion, 10th Combat Aviation Brigade (Assault Helicopter Battalion), is at Camp MK with 20 Black Hawk helicopters, doing combined training missions with the Romanians.

There are also Soldiers with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers constructing and renovating a number of facilities at Camp MK and NSTA, as both areas continue with their expansion plans.

The important thing to remember, Stark said, is that the training missions use a “total force approach,” which means all U.S. military, including Guard and Reserve, train with host-nation forces, as well as with NATO partners.

Stark is a member of the Alabama Army National Guard, and a number of Reserve Soldiers at Camp MK are with the 21st Theater Support Command, which handles combat service support.

Matt Cornman, physical security specialist at NSTA with U.S. Army Installation Management Command, said the biggest value of training here is the coming together of the many coalition partners, each of which has its own unique doctrine and way of operating.

By combining forces, much is learned by all and the whole becomes greater than the parts, he added.


Eastern Romania and Bulgaria are considered more remote areas of Europe, so getting troops and their supplies there takes some creativity, Jones said.

Lt. Col. Tracey Smith, commander of U.S. forces at both Camp MK and NSTA, said troops can arrive via a small commercial runway on Camp MK that is run by the Romanians. Additionally, U.S. tanks and other vehicles and equipment can be offloaded at the nearby port of Constanta on the Black Sea or at the port of Varna in Bulgaria, which is also on the Black Sea.

US soldiers walk next to M1 Abrams tanks at the Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base, near Constanta Romania (Reuters)

From there, troops can be bused to NSTA, which is a 28,000-acre training area where live-fire and maneuver training is conducted.

Elements of a brigade might also split off to other training areas like Graf Ignatievo, Bezmer and Aytos in Bulgaria and Cincu, Babadag and Smardan in Romania, she said.

Julia Sibilla, site director of NSTA, noted that there are other ways troops arrive in Romania and Bulgaria. Some of them are bused in from Poland, Italy and Germany, she said.

Railway cars haul their equipment from Constanta, Varna or other points in Europe. The NSTA railhead at Zimnitsa is just 17 miles away, she noted.

Another way troops get in to NSTA is by helicopter, she said. Some 600 paratroopers jumped into Bezmer in Bulgaria recently, which is an hour from NSTA.

Not all arrivals are U.S. troops, she added. For instance, during Exercise Trident Jaguar, the French took the lead, she said, adding that leading the exercise was a huge confidence booster for that NATO ally.

Also, non-NATO partners, like the Georgians, have trained here as well, she said.


Bulgarian and Romanian military leaders and civilians alike have been extremely welcoming of the Americans here, said Sibilla.

Romanian Col. Eduart Dodu, the commander of Camp MK, said “our relationship with the United States is great,” and he added he hopes the U.S. presence will be permanent and even expand.

NATO, along with the U.S. and Romania, will continue to put more capabilities in this region because they understand the threat and that adding more resources means investing in the collective future, Dodu predicted.

Dodu said he recalls the days when Romania was a member of the Soviet’s Warsaw Pact treaty. He said those were dark days and it’s not a period to which he or the Romanian people ever want to return.

Scot Seitz, deputy commander, Black Sea Area Support Team at NSTA, stressed the importance of NSTA as a forward training area.

The retired Marine said training here guarantees that “U.S. troops are as ready as possible to close with and destroy the enemy by fire and maneuver.”

Having a presence here assures allies and partners that the U.S. is committed and dissuades adversaries who might be tempted to meddle in the region, he said.

It’s important too that lawmakers and the American people understand the value they’re getting in having a presence here, he added.


Ambitious future for Naval Shipbuilding in the UK

The second Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carrier, HMS Prince of Wales under construction at Rosyth Dockyard

Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon has unveiled an ambitious new National Shipbuilding Strategy which meets the challenge set by Sir John Parker last November and sets out plans for the first batch of Type 31e frigates.

Sir John Parker’s independent report into British naval shipbuilding proposed far-reaching recommendations to transform the UK maritime industry and boost the prosperity of regions, shipyards and maritime supply chains across the country.

Today’s Strategy sees the Government accept Sir John’s recommendations and step up to what he called a prospective ‘renaissance’ in British shipbuilding. Building on the Government’s industrial strategy, it outlines an ambition to transform the procurement of naval ships, make the UK’s maritime industry more competitive, grow the Royal Navy fleet by the 2030s, export British ships overseas, and boost innovation, skills, jobs, and productivity across the UK.

It announces the government’s plan to procure new Type 31e General Purpose Frigates. A price cap has been set of no more than £250M each for the first batch of five frigates. In line with standing UK policy on warships they will be built in the UK. They could be built in a way which could see them shared between yards and assembled at a central hub. The first ships are set to be in service by 2023. Shipyards will be encouraged to work with global partners to ensure the vessel is competitive on the export market.

Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon said:

This new approach will lead to more cutting-edge ships for the growing Royal Navy that will be designed to maximise exports and be attractive to navies around the world.

Backed up by a commitment to spend billions on new ships, our plan will help boost jobs, skills, and growth in shipyards and the supply chain across the UK.

The Strategy sets out the government’s commitment to work with industry to reinvigorate and maximise export success. The Type 31e will be designed to meet the needs of the Royal Navy and with the export market in mind from the beginning. This could see industry’s customer become not only the Royal Navy but for the navies of Britain’s allies and partners.

A computer generated image of one of the proposed designs for the Royal Navy’s Type 31e frigate

The MOD is committed to new ships for the Royal Navy through its rising budget and £178bn equipment plan. In July, at BAE’s Govan shipyard, the Defence Secretary cut steel for the first of eight Type 26 frigates, HMS Glasgow. The £3.7 billion contract for the first three, the largest for naval ships this decade, will secure hundreds of high skilled jobs on the Clyde until 2035 and hundreds more in the supply chain across the UK.

Sir John Parker said:

I am very impressed by the courage that the Secretary of State has shown – and the Government – in adopting my recommendations, which were very extensive, and will change the shape of naval shipbuilding over the country in the future.

The next challenge is to come up with a world-leading design; one that can satisfy the needs of the Royal Navy and the export market. We have the capability to do that, the will is there and it is a tremendous opportunity for UK shipbuilding. I see no reason why industry will not rise to that challenge. There is an incredible keenness from around the country, from Scotland to Merseyside, to the South West and over to Belfast.

The option to build the Type 31e frigates in blocks reflects how the biggest ship ever built for the Royal Navy, the 65,000-tonne HMS Queen Elizabeth, was constructed. The aircraft carrier was built in blocks by over 10,000 people in six main British cities. She was then assembled in Rosyth, before commencing sea trials in June and arriving in her home port of Portsmouth last month.

Her sister ship HMS Prince of Wales, built in the same way, is also now structurally complete and will be officially named in a ceremony on 8 September. This method has also been tried and tested on the UK’s new polar research ship, RRS Sir David Attenborough, with shipyards across the country collaborating in the block build.

The Strategy is an important part of the government’s broader industrial strategy that focuses on increasing economic growth across the country and investing in a more skilled workforce.

The Government will work together with industry to provide the certainty and support the need to become internationally competitive. Such a move will not only boost the British economy and jobs, but it will also help to create a more stable and well-protected world.


Operation Open Spirit: How NATO is Minesweeping The Baltic Sea

Lithuanian minesweeper Kuršis (M54) (former Royal Navy Hunt-class, HMS Dulverton), leads a flotilla in the Baltic Sea

British forces have taken part into Operation Open Spirit, an annual multinational operation to clear Explosive Remnants of War (ERW) in the Baltic Sea.

This year’s operation, led by the Latvian Naval Force, cleared a total of 20 square kilometres of the Baltic.

Expert teams from Latvia, Estonia, Norway and Canada and the UK identified 38 objects and destroyed two mines.

Commander JG Armands Ronis said:

“There are thousands of mines laid during those periods. Your job is to find the mine, to identify it, to put a charge and to blow it up.”

The Baltic Sea was heavily bombarded during the First and Second World Wars, both via air and submarine warfare. As a result, unexploded ordnance remains in some areas.

The operation aims not only to reduce the risk of mines for civilians, but also to foster relationships with defence partners in the region and exercise naval mine countermeasure operations in a challenging environment.

Open Spirit is part of the Partnership for Peace (PfP), a bilateral cooperation between individual Euro-Atlantic partner countries – such as Canada – and NATO.

The program was established in 1994 to enable its 21 partners to build an individual relationship with NATO, choosing their own priorities.


Dunford Attends Scottish Tattoo, Discusses Defense Topics With U.K. Leaders

The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo 2017

Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford used his invite to the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo in Scotland to visit British bases in the area and speak with senior United Kingdom defense leaders on a wide range of defense topics.

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff was invited months ago by his U.K. counterpart, British Chief of Defense Staff Air Chief Marshal Stuart Peach, to visit the tattoo and take the salute from the British units participating in the event.

“I didn’t realize how big the tattoo was when I accepted,” Dunford said during an interview on a flight back to Washington. “I learned.”

The tattoo ceremony is held at the esplanade of Edinburgh Castle the month of August, and more than 210,000 attend the event with about 100 million viewing the event on TV, according to news reports.

Earlier in the day, Dunford met with British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon and Peach to discuss a full range of issues from the South Asia strategy to the situation in East Asia – specifically North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs.

“Both from my trip and the [positive] rhetoric that is coming out of Beijing is that the economic and political pressure is having an effect,” Dunford said. “It remains to be seen if the campaign will be successful, but there are indications that things are heading in the right direction.”

Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford receives a shepherd’s crook from his Scottish hosts at the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo in Edinburgh, Scotland, Aug.25, 2017. DoD photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Dominque A. Pineiro

Chinese officials told North Korean leader Kim Jong Un that if he launched a missile toward Guam, he was on his own. China surprised the world by voting for sanctions against North Korea in the U.N. Security Council and now appears to be enforcing those sanctions, Dunford said.

Still, it is “much too early,” he said. “You can’t measure enforcement sanctions in weeks, but again the rhetoric has been positive from Beijing.”

Dunford also discussed opportunities for continued military-to-military engagement between the United States and the U.K. “We obviously have a very strong relationship with the U.K., and they are with us in Iraq and Afghanistan,” Dunford said.The chairman visited the future HMS Prince of Wales – a Royal Navy aircraft carrier being built in Rosyth, Scotland. The British ship will field American-built F-35B Lightning II aircraft.

“Any future fight is going to require a coalition, and interoperability is a critical and fundamental element of alliance and coalition warfare,” Dunford said. “This reflects the close nature of the alliance and bodes well for the interoperability.”

The chairman received positive feedback from the British leaders on the new strategy for South Asia announced earlier this week.

“It is fair to say that all of the nations that are currently contributing to the Resolute Support Mission, and certainly all of the nations who have been there since the very beginning like the U.K., … have received the strategy well,” Dunford said.

Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, tours the nuclear-fleet submarine HMS Ambush during a visit to Scotland, Aug. 25, 2017. DoD photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Dominque A. Pineiro

Coalition allies tell Dunford they believe the conditions-based approach is the right approach, “and that it will allow us all to have a longer-term horizon to assure our Afghan partners of our continuing support,” he said.

The strategy helps Afghan President Ashraf Ghani with his four-year plan to deal with corruption issues and economic development. “Instead of a one-year-at-a-time campaign, we can start to take a longer term approach and have confidence that the resources necessary to implement this longer term approach will be there,” the chairman said.

In addition to the British allies, Dunford spoke with other NATO allies, the Chairman of the NATO Military Committee, Czech Gen. Petr Pavel and other close partners. He noted that Army Gen. Curtis M. Scaparrotti, Eucom’s commander and NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe, has also spoken to allies, as has Army Gen. Joe Votel, the U.S. Central Command chief.

“We’ve touched a lot of people this week and there has been universal support for the approach we are taking,” the chairman said.



Noble Partner 2017 – Georgia Army National Guard works with British 2 Para for Airborne Insertion [VIDEO]

Soldiers of the Georgia National Guard Company H, 121st Infantry (Airborne) Long Range Surveillance Unit conducted an airborne insertion with British ‘C’ Coy, 2nd Battalion Parachute Regiment as part of Exercise Noble Partner 2017. Noble Partner 2017 is a U.S. Army Europe-led exercise designed to support the training, progression, and eventual certification of Georgia’s 2nd Light Infantry Company’s contribution to the NATO Response Force.

By SGT. Josh Joyner.


German minehunter Sulzbach-Rosenberg joining NATO mine countermeasures group

German Navy’s Frankenthal-class minehunter FGS Sulzbach-Rosenberg will be joining NATO’ Standing Mine Counter Measure Group 1 (SNMCMG1) operating in the Baltic and North Seas, the German Navy has announced.

The minehunter is set to depart its home port of Kiel, Germany, on July 28 to spend the following five months with the NATO maritime group.

Sulzbach-Rosenberg is expected to formally join the SNMCMG1 in a ceremony scheduled to take place in the Latvian city of Liepaja on July 30. The ship will be joining its Latvian, English and Dutch counterparts to form the backbone of the group.

SNMCMG1 Flagship, Latvian MCM command and support ship LVNS Virsaitis.

Led by Corvette Captain Pierre Limburg, the minehunter’s 45 strong crew will be taking part in a number of international exercises including Open Spirit, Joint Warrior and Northern Coasts

Throughout its deployment, the ship will be home to a five-man diving team from Lithuania.

SNMCMG1 is currendly led by Latvian Commander Gvido Laudups from aboard the support ship Virsaitis.