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PARAs given a masterclass in urban ops

22 February 2017

From house-to-house fighting to dealing with hostile crowds, paratroopers have practised the full range of skills they need to operate in built-up areas.

Troops from 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment are on Exercise Urban Pegasus as they prepare to become the British Army’s global rapid reaction force. The two-week-long training on Salisbury Plain, which includes troops from 2nd Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles is designed to refresh the paratrooper’s key skills of fighting in built-up areas and dealing with public disturbances.

Building clearance drills

Urban skills training saw the soldiers start at the basics of clearing 'enemy' from individual rooms, working up to company-sized operations to both defend and attack the mock village at Copehill Down building-by-building and street-by-street.

Private James Lindsay, 27 from Leeds, said: "This has been a challenge, developing skills that are very different to those needed to fight in the countryside. The key to fighting in built-up areas is being methodical, but with speed and aggression.

"We’re going into dark buildings that can be easily fortified and heavily defended with a small number of people, but also have innocent people sheltering inside."

Royal Gurkha Rifles practice building clearance drills.

Royal Gurkha Rifles practice building clearance drills.

Public order drills saw the troops bombarded with abuse and missiles by rioters as they practised how to work together to defend each other and drive back hostile crowds.

Lance Corporal Ryan Curtis, 28 from Bristol, said: "Facing a hostile crowd gets your adrenaline going, but the most important thing is to keep your head and work as a team. It’s about showing discipline to an uncontrolled crowd to gain control of the situation.

"As paratroopers we’re at the head of the queue for the Army’s next operation, which is an exciting place to be, and it’s important to have trained for whatever could be asked of us."

2 PARA’s core role is to alternate with 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment as the lead unit in the Air Assault Task Force (AATF), which is ready to deploy anywhere in the world to conduct the full range of military operations.

The 2 PARA troops are training to take on the AATF role in spring 2017, with the unit’s airborne infantry bolstered by artillery, engineers, signallers, medics and logisticians from 16 Air Assault Brigade. 

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