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Pretend war at Warminster

Press and invited guests had the opportunity to witness the British Army and Royal Air Force in action at the ‘Land Combat Power Display’, held near the Land Warfare Hall, Harman Lines, Warminster in Wiltshire.


Apache AH1 dominates the battlefied at Warminster. Key - Gary Parsons

The Land Combat Power Display is run to educate approximately 400 Intermediate Command and Staff Course (Land) (ICSC(L)) students (newly promoted Majors) from the Defence Academy to "To develop an understanding of the Land Component, the complexity and capabilities of a land formation, and how a land formation is deployed and then employed to achieve full operational effect, by demonstrating the capabilities and equipment in a formation and how they may be organised."

In other words, the event gives new Majors the understanding of how all elements of the British Forces come together to project a ‘show of force’. Many Army officers are specialists in their field, but require a broader education as they prepare to be staff officers, to give them an understanding of the impact their decisions will have on other elements of the fighting force and, most importantly, the soldier in a trench at the front.

We thought it was a bush until it moved... Key - Gary Parsons
Organising the event was HQ 3 Division, supported by The Mercian Regiment, which has battalions deployed in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Playing for the day was 3 Mercian (Staffords), formerly The Staffordshire Regiment, amalgamated into The Mercian Regiment on September 1, 2007 as part of a rationalisation of Army units.

Key to combined operations is air power, demonstrated by an Apache AH1 from 16 Air Assault Brigade, Wattisham Airfield and a Tornado GR4 from 31 Squadron, RAF Marham. Forward Air Controllers (FAC) (troops who call in airstrikes) directed the pilots to targets using the Remote Operated Video Enhanced Receiver (ROVER) system, where images captured by sensors aboard the aircraft are instantly relayed to the FAC – he can highlight a target on his laptop screen, allowing the aircraft's crew to lock in on the target. The Army uses ROVER III, a system that allows the FAC to talk the pilot into the target. From the ground commander’s perspective, the system provides an increased situational awareness and targets can be identified in less than a minute, rather than the tens of minutes if done verbally.

This was ably demonstrated as the Tornado released a 1,000 lb bomb on its target, a single strike proving effective. With operations in Afghanistan expected to continue and become more intensive in the months and years ahead, the Tornado will begin to play a major role with its recent deployment to relieve the long-suffering Harrier Force.

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