Active Eagle pushes troops at STANTA

Soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, the Parachute Regiment, disembark from a Chinook during Exercise Ac

Soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, the Parachute Regiment, disembark from a Chinook during Exercise Active Eagle. - Credit: Cpl Obi Igbo

The pictures resemble something out of a Hollywood blockbuster.

But for troops at Stanford Training Area (STANTA), near Thetford, it's as close to the real thing as you could get on British shores.

Exercise Active Eagle has been putting 2 PARA Battlegroup (BG) through its paces as the British Army's rapid reaction force.

The battlegroup is supported by the 16 Air Assault Brigade, based in Colchester.

Ready to deploy anywhere in the world at short notice, the group is currently serving as the Air Assault Task Force (AATF) and is expected to conduct the full spectrum of military operations.

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The AATF took part in an exercise to extract European citizens from a fictional country with longstanding frictions along sectarian lines and dealing with a terrorist threat over the last two weeks.

The mission began with the battlegroup moving from its base to Woodbridge in Suffolk, before being inserted into STANTA by parachute or helicopter.

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They were then charged with protecting an embassy against a rioting crowd who bombarded them with abuse, petrol bombs and missiles.

Another task saw an assault carried out on a village to free local police under siege from insurgents.

The training was completed with live fire battle runs over day and night, with fire support from 105mm light guns, mortars and Apache attack helicopters, and RAF GR4 Tornado jets.

Lieutenant Colonel Adam Dawson, OBE MC, commanding officer of 2 PARA, said: 'This exercise is designed to corral within one scenario the multifaceted challenges that the AATF may face.

'It gave the opportunity to run out the planning team's functions within the headquarters and access to a broad range of assets.

'Combined with challenging and enjoyable training, it has resulted in a confirmation of our readiness for any challenge that may require our intervention.'

For the troops, it was a chance to experience live firing at one of the UK military's main training centres.

Private Daniel Lee, 20, from Canterbury, said: 'I've only been in 2 PARA for eight months and this exercise has taken me up a step from what I learnt in training.

'We've really worked hard on a lot of different skills.'

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