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“Political and diplomatic solutions appear to be fading fast as the United
Nations’ Security Council urgently dispatches a mighty multinational
maritime, land and air task force to prevent the nations of Dragonia,
Caledonia and Avalon from descending into violent conflict to regain
their lost territories...”
IGHT nations; 32 warships and submarines; 1,000 combat missions; 8,000
people; 28 RAF, Swedish Air Force and United States Air Force squadrons;
two British aircraft carriers, two amphibious landing forces; Dutch, French
and German Marines.
One massive exercise run by the UK’s Joint Tactical Exercise Planning
Staff (JTEPS) with one focus – preparation to work together in operations anywhere
around the globe.
THIS autumn’s Joint Warrior 082 was one of the operational role on the front line in Afghanistan.
biggest maritime and air tactical exercises ever held Cdr Adrian Orchard, Deputy Force Commander
in the UK, with British ships, aircraft and personnel for Joint Force Harrier, stated: “It was imperative
joining forces with their allies from NATO and be- to get back to sea on Joint Warrior and develop the
yond to stamp down the confl icts fl aring among the ship’s and aircrews’ abilities to conduct maritime
fi ctitious nations of the Wallian Archipelago. strike on targets on land and at sea.”
Scenarios nowadays are never as straightforward as For the British airmen in all the squadrons the
‘goody’ and ‘baddy’; the world has moved on from bundle of land, air and sea training proved invaluable
the days of simple battle against an equal enemy force for those about to begin operations in Afghanistan.
– now multinational forces are faced with defending For the senior American officer on board HMS
recognised borders, bringing stability and guarantee- Ark Royal, the training that his units received during
ing security for free and fair elections. Joint Warrior was “second to none”.
At the same time the needs of a rapacious media The carrier and her task group of international
are being fed by embedded journalists, a fine political ships first had to wend their way through ‘mined’
tightrope is being walked, and the eyes of the world waters to their area of operations – where MCMVs
are watching (and judging) every move. HMS Quorn and Middleton proved once more the
And of course, there are some 8,000 military big role of small ships in countering the dangers of
personnel, 32 ships and submarines, and 1,000 air mines at sea.
missions from eight different nations to command The Task Group switched to ‘Ultra Quiet’ state
and control. for fear of the slightest noise setting off any sensitive
Oh, and the Scottish weather. mines under way, with men and equipment moved
So not perhaps the most simple of tasks... away from the ships’ hulls and bulkheads.
Capt John Naturally Ark
Kersh of the US
Working in this environment is all about
Royal could not
Navy, Commander
Destroyer Squadron
trust. Joint Warrior builds trust and
survive this passage
totally unscathed –
24, brought his staff
enables us all to learn.
no negative reflection
on to HMS Ark on the abilities of the
Royal to command the Force Protection Task Group minehunters but a need to put the firefighters and
in the exercise; while on board HMS Bulwark damage repairmen of the carrier to the test.
Cdre Peter Hudson, Commander Amphibious Task Then once on site, the carrier endured ten days of
Group, took the lead of the amphibious raids and defence watches, suffering the onslaught of attacks
assaults against the warring nations’ flanks. by enemy aircraft, vessels, missiles, submarines and
For the Naval commodore, this was a return to small terrorist craft.
his natural habitat, having spent three months with The Americans aboard relished the opportuni-
his battle staff away from the amphibious world run- ties to work with their British allies. Lt Cdr Rodney
ning Combined Task Force 152 in the southern and Ferioli USN said: “It has been a pretty seamless
central Gulf. adjustment for the staff.
However Bulwark herself was playing host to “Our operations are very tied together, and we
French Marines, whose commanding officer Col have built solid relationships with our British coun-
Francois Labuze of the Regiment Infanterie Chars terparts.”
de Marine said: “We have enjoyed our time on board A point echoed by his compatriot Operations
Bulwark, and despite the challenging weather are Specialist 1 (SW) Jason Perez, who said: “You learn
very happy with the quality of the training achieved. about how another navy operates and how you can
“Exercises such as Joint Warrior demonstrate the speak a common operating language to work effi-
close relationship between France and the UK – we ciently with our allies.
hope for much more in the future.” “This is all about working better with our allies.
For the assault ship it is another task in a full year Our joint operations will result in better teamwork
of exercises and preparation in the build-up to next when we have to operate in a real-world environ-
year’s long deployment. ment.”
Lt Col Mike Bestwick, who heads up Bulwark’s And apparently the US sailors rather enjoyed the
own assault squadron 4ASRM, said: “The training delicacies of fine British dining, such as mushy peas
offered by Joint Warrior is invaluable to Bulwark and with their fish and chips...
4ASRM. The US commander, Capt John Kersh, said:
“We’ve had a busy year so far exercising with “From a US perspective Joint Warrior makes sure
Marines from Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands, out own ships are trained better to operate in a mul-
Sweden and Russia. tinational environment.
“Exercising with the French has been first class, “Working in this environment is all about trust,
and we have learnt much collectively and individu- there can be many Standard Operating Procedures –
ally.” but none of those can work without trust.
The mercurial Scottish weather proved a tough “Joint Warrior builds trust and enables us all to
challenge for all on board the assault ship, with land- learn about the other organisations.”
ing craft operations curbed by the massive swells, and He described the training as good, if not better,
ship manoeuvre limited by the restricted coastline. than any US exercises.
A Hebridean coastline which became a familiar High praise indeed for the staff of JTEPS and
sight to the stoical Dutch, French and German their director Capt Paddy McAlpine who had spent
Marines stuck ashore, but enjoying the catering of months engrossed in detailed, painstaking planning
British field kitchens and UK ration packs. to guarantee the maximum benefit for all the forces
Bulwark’s CO Capt Jeremy Blunden said: “Joint involved.
Warrior is a prime example of how teamwork among Capt McAlpine said: “My team has put in place
different nations can help to increase stability, dimin- the most demanding, relevant, realistic and cost-
ish threats to peace and build strengthened relation- effective predeployment training for both UK and
ships.” allied personnel – the feedback we have received from
He added: “Most of all it certainly provided us all participants has been hugely positive.
with the chance to engage in realistic and challenging “I am confident that this experience will stand
amphibious training.” them all in good stead for operational theatres.”
For some of the denizens of carrier HMS Illustrious JTEPS staff are already gearing up for the next Joint
it was also a return to familiar old form – the aircrew Warrior in May next year, although Capt McAlpine
of Joint Force Harrier seized upon the chance to is unbowed by the weight of expectation: “Send us
refresh their skills in maritime strike amid their busy your best, and we’ll make them even better!”
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