www.newsguardian.co.uk Thursday, September 26, 2013
Troops have something in reserve Soldiers from Army Reserve Centres across the borough have been pushed to the limits in an intensive training exercise in Cyprus. Reporter Tegan Chapman joined the Fifth Battalion the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers on Exercise Lion Star to find out more. into practice. Based on real life situations, this final battle is the s dawn breaks, the culmination of two weeks’ intensive training on the peace and tranMediterranean island that quillity stretchwill equip soldiers with the ing out across the necessary skills for deployCypriot horizon is ment to any future conflicts; shattered by the sound of susskills that could potentially tained gunfire. save their lives. Hundreds of rounds of But the soldiers from the shots ring out across an ocFifth Battalion the Royal cupied village as the lead Regiment of Fusiliers, are no platoon of soldiers pushes ordinary soldiers. forward in an epic battle to Each of them take power. ‘We all do the hold down day Hours later same job and we jobs as teachers, the company seizes control all do the same plumbers, lawyers and labourof the land and training.’ ers, and make move on to claim up the reserve victory. army – where training exerThis may sound like a cise like this are vital to bring scene from Saving Private the troops in line with their Ryan, but it’s actually an regular counterparts. imaginary scenario played Sergeant Mark Matout by reserve soldiers from thewson, 26, from North across the north east, deShields, works as an analyst signed to put all their skills
Sergeant Mark Matthewson.
Lance Corporal Liam McIntyre.
for Northumbrian Water, and joined the Army Reserve seven years ago. He joined around 100 servicemen and women from the regiment at the training camp near the RAF Akrotiri base in southern Cyprus, where temperatures were close to 40C. He said: “Working with
our regular counterparts and being given a regular unit to train with is a brilliant opportunity to bring reservists and regular soldiers together. “And we have seen that the difference between the two is minimal. “We all do the same job and we all do the same training, and it really is one army,
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For the soldiers the training may be arduous, but it also gives them the chance to learn new skill sets and offers great camaraderie. Sergeant Matthewson added: “There used to be a stigma about the reserves but now people are realising that we do the same job as regulars but we also work on civvie street, so have adaptable skills. “Reservists are an asset to civvie life and an asset to military life. It is an excellent time to be in the reserves.” Lieutenant colonel Karl Mace, who is the regiment’s commanding officer, added: “This training exercise has been a pilot for the way in which we will work in the future and it has proven to be immensely successful and has shown that at soldier level the regulars and reserves can work seamlessly together.”
it’s not us and them, which this exercise has proved.” Now operations in Afghanistan are drawing to a close, the withdrawal of troops has marked a return to contingency. Training is now geared towards preparing to fight a generic country, as opposed to insurgents. Lance Corporal Liam McIntyre, 23, of North Shields, has been in the Army Reserve for more than five years. “I have found this exercise good because it’s getting back to classical training, which is totally different to Afghan training as we are now training to fight armies instead of insurgencies. “This is a really good realistic scenario, and it will have saved lives.” The troops’ mission was to clear a village and make it secure, but they came under enemy fire.
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Thursday, September 26, 2013 www.newsguardian.co.uk
Army Feature ‘Heavy investment’
Royal Regiment of Fusiliers’ Army Band
Band are keeping morale high school and I think if I hadn’t Historically used to lead joined then I wouldn’t still be troops into battle, the Royal playing now. Regiment of Fusiliers’ Army “At the end of the day you Band has cemented its place get paid for your hobby. in the future of the Army “Coming out here is fanReserve as a morale boosttastic – the battalion wanted ing unit. us to come and Members of ‘I love being in support them the band joined the battalion in the band and the and it is nice to Cyprus for their opportunities it work with them as a whole unit. annual training brings.’ “When you camp, where come away with they performed the battalion it does bring us a series of concerts. closer together.” The band’s director of Civil servant Auriol Cummusic, Captain Kevin Crook, mings, 31, from Monkseaton, from Druridge Bay, said: “It’s has played saxophone and all about keeping the morale clarinet in the band for 13 up for the boys. years. “Sometimes they are out “I love being in the band in war zones and they have and the opportunities it nothing, and I think the brings. I get to perform in morale element is still very places I would never get to much there.” otherwise.” Baritone saxophone Vicki McIntyre, 35, from player, Helen Short, 33, from Whitley Bay, has played Howdon, has been in the saxophone in the band for 17 band for 11 years. years. “I joined the band from
Auriol Cummings and Helen Short.
“I got into the band after my dad saw an advert in the News Guardian looking for band members. “I went along and 17 years later I’m still here. “It is an awesome experience coming to Cyprus for our annual camp, and the opportunity to play in the amphitheatre was fantastic.
“It’s really nice to get the chance to come away with the whole battalion.” Captain Crook added: “The band is making music and they’re getting paid to do their hobby. “We have members that have been doing this for 30 years, which shows how much they love it.”
A leading officer said that changes to the way the Army Reserve operates mean there has never been a better time to sign up. The government is heavily investing in the Army Reserve, previously know as the Territorial Army, to provide improved kit, better weapon systems and added benefits. Future Reserves 2020 (FR2020) will see the number of recruits rise to 30,000 by 2018, and will also see an increase in benefits for soldiers including improved kit, pension, health care and holiday entitlement. Plans will also see whole platoons mobilised, whereas previously individuals were sent to join regular units. Reserve units are now paired with a regular unit as government plans for ‘One army – regular and reserve’ forge ahead. And the training exercise in Cyprus was the first time the one army ideal had been put to the test. Lieutenant Colonel Karl Mace, commanding officer of the Fifth Battalion The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, said: “Until now it has been a theory but now we have
The Army Reserve on exercise tried it and it has been successful, it shows we are at the start of a journey that I am confident will deliver integrated operational capability. “In the field you could not identify who was regular and who was reserve, which proves for me that there is a chance of this initiative being successful and it will work. “We are always recruiting and will welcome anyone who wants to find out more. “There really has never been a better time to join the Army Reserve.” For more information about joining the reserves, visit www. army.mod.uk call 0845 600 8080 or visit an Army Reserve Centre.
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