Joint Warrior exercise brings 1600 military to area

GALLOWAY could have been forgiven for thinking it was under attack this week as helicopters, army trucks and squads of troops were spotted arriving en masse.

But it was all part of operation Joint Warrior taking place in the region to prepare soldiers for deployment anywhere with just five days’ notice.

More than 1600 troops will use the region over the fortnight-long exercise, which will end next weekend.

The exercise is held twice a year to prepare forces from the UK, US, Denmark, Norway, France, Canada, Germany and the Netherlands for events and active service.

It is aimed at creating a task group capable of being deployed to worldwide incidents such as last year’s war in Libya, as well as testing the ability of the armed forces to cope with events such as a terrorist attack on the Olympics.

Soldiers from 16 Air Assault Brigade took part in an exercise to practise their airborne skills. They secured an airfield at West Freugh through a combination of parachute, air assault and tactical air landings.

The exercise scenario saw the airfield become part of an area disputed by two fictional nations called Pastonia and Dragonia. Under the scenario, troops landed in the conflict zone after Nato sent a rapid intervention force to create the conditions for a UN peacekeeping force to take control.

The task force, based around the battle group of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, 5th Battalion the Royal Regiment of Scotland (5 SCOTS), then defended the airfield after landing.

Brigadier Giles Hill, commander of 16 Air Assault Brigade, said that this is currently the largest annual exercise the MoD holds.