Home > Exercise News > IRON STORM 1-2023 ~ British Battle Group at GÜZ H

IRON STORM 1-2023 ~ British Battle Group at GÜZ H

Infantrymen from 1 R Welsh have dismounted from their FV510 Warrior armoured infantry vehicles while breaking into Schnöggersburg during IRON STORM 23 at GÜZ H [© Carl Schulze]

Exercise IRON STORM 1/2023 involved a British Battle Group at the Gefechts Übungs Zentrum Heer (GÜZ H ) in Germany, reports Carl Schulze.

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The Gefechts Übungs Zentrum Heer, or GÜZ H, combat training centre of the German Army is one of the most modern facilities of its kind. Situated on the Altmark Training Area, the GÜZ H is used to train all-arms battle groups in the art of land-based operations. Mainly used by German forces, this high-class training facility is also regularly used by NATO allies. The 1st Battalion, The Royal Welsh Battle Group is the first full British formation to train at the GÜZ H.

An FV510 Warrior armoured infantry fighting vehicle of 1 R Welsh crosses a ditch after engineers have breached it with a bundle of pipe-fascines [© Carl Schulze]

Planned and controlled by the Sennelager-based, and 2021 established, Combat Ready Training Centre (Germany) or CRTC(G), Exercise IRON STORM 1/2023 is aimed at validating the operational readiness of the 1st Battalion, The Royal Welsh Battle Group. Once validated, the formation will then be held at readiness for two years as Battle Group 2 of the Lead Armoured Task Force (LATF) of the British Armed Forces. The LATF is the United Kingdom’s leading armoured element on heightened readiness, supporting a rapid deployment to undertake any short notice contingency tasks. As such, the LATF can be deployed within a national or international framework, for example serving as part of a NATO division employed for collective defence of the Alliance’s territory.

A soldier of Recce Platoon of the 1 R Welsh launches a UAVTEK Ltd Ares quad-copter in order to conduct a reconnaissance mission [© Carl Schulze]

Sennelager, Bergen and Altmark: Lasting from early July through to early September 2023, Exercise IRON STORM 1/2023 consists of several different phases and is completed at the Altmark Training Area. Initially the exercise saw the roughly 1,000 troops of the 1 R Welsh Battle Group deploying from the United Kingdom to the NATO Forward Holding Base Sennelager in northern Germany.

This facility is one of five global defence hubs established under the UK’s government recent Integrated Defence and Security Review. With its Sennelager-based Land Readiness Fleet (Sennelager) and Mönchengladbach-based Store Equipment Fleet (Germany), the facility holds large quantities of heavy equipment, allowing the equipping of two complete all-arms battle groups.

After their arrival the troops went through the Reception, Staging, Onward Movement and Integration (RSOI) process, that included the drawing of equipment from Sennelager and Mönchengladbach. The next phase saw the troops deploying onto Sennelager Training Area (STA) for section, platoon and company level live fire exercises. From STA the 1st Battalion, The Royal Welsh Battle Group then deployed to the Bergen-Hohne Training Area, where it conducted battle group level live fire training.

Soldiers of 1 R Welsh armed with 5.56mm SA80 A3 assault rifles, some of which are fitted with VarioRay laser-light-modules, fight their way through Schnöggersburg [© Carl Schulze]

1st Battalion, The Royal Welsh Battle Group: As its name indicates, the core of the battle group is formed by the 1st Battalion, The Royal Welsh; Headquarters Company, A Company, B Company and Fire Support Company. The 1 R Welsh is an armoured infantry battalion equipped with FV510 Warrior armoured infantry fighting vehicles. The battalion belongs to the 12th Armoured Brigade Combat Team (12 ABCT), that forms part of the 3rd [UK Division ‘The Warfighting Division’. The armoured element of the formation is provided by Ajax Squadron of the Royal Tank Regiment equipped with Challenger 2 main battle tanks. Close engineer support for the battle group is provided by 8 Squadron, 26 Engineer Regiment, Royal Engineers. the engineers can field, among other equipment, Trojan Armoured Vehicles Royal Engineers, Titan Armoured Vehicle Launched Bridge and Terrier Combat Engineer Vehicles.

Indirect fire support for the battle group is provided by AS90 self-propelled howitzers and 105mm L118 Light Guns of 28/143 (Tombs Troop) Battery,19 Regiment, Royal Artillery. Close Support Air Defence for the battle group is conducted by elements of 12 Regiment, Royal Artillery, equipped with the Self-Propelled Starstreak High Velocity Missile (SP HVM). Close support logistic support for the formation is provided by 4 Regiment Royal Logistic Corps and elements of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers. In total the battle group numbers some 1,000 troops and can field some 600 wheeled and tracked vehicles.

Elements of 1st Battalion, The Mercian Regiment served as OPFOR at the GÜZ H among German troops in Schnöggersburg [© Carl Schulze]

OPFOR: B Company, 1st Battalion, The Mercian Regiment serve as Opposing Force (OPFOR) These were grouped with elements of the Ausbildungsverband, the GÜZ H own in-house OPFOR unit, equipped, for example, with Leopard 2A6 main battle tanks and Schützenpanzer Marder 1A3 armoured infantry fighting vehicles.

Stress Testing: The final phase of Exercise IRON STORM 1/2023 at Altmark Training Area is taking place from 16th August until 1st September 2023. The initial days of this period were dedicated to the deployment of the battle group by road and rail to the GÜZ H combat training centre of the German Army in Saxony-Anhalt. Weapons and vehicles were then fitted with the laser-based AGDUS (Ausbildungsgerät Duellsimulator) tactical engagement simulation equipment.

Combat operations commenced on the 22nd August and continue up to 30th August 2023. During these days the battle group has had to conduct several different types of combat operations, including an advance to contact, fighting defensive battles and conducting a hasty attack. The operations were conducted as Collective Training with Training Level F, the aim of the training being to improve the ability of teams, units and formations to function as a cohesive entity and so enhance their operational capabilities. At the same time the training at the GÜZ H also served as a final stress test for the battle group as part of its validation for its Battle Group 2 LATF assignment.

FV510 Warrior armoured infantry fighting vehicles of 1 R Welsh fight their way into the Schnöggersburg Fighting In Built Up Areas facility [© Carl Schulze]

GÜZ H: The Gefechts Übungs Zentrum Heer or GÜZ H combat training centre is the central training facility of the Germany Army for training of land-based combat operations. It is also the key training facility for pre-deployment training and combat readiness training. While the German Army is the prime-user of the GÜZ H, it is also regularly used the ground forces of other nations, such as the Netherlands. Exercise IRON STORM is the second time that elements of the British Army have trained at the GÜZ H. The first occasion being in 2022, when a company of The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers deployed to the Altmark Training Area as part of a German armoured battle group.

Exercises at the GÜZ H are conducted by utilising the laser-based AGDUS tactical engagement simulation equipment. The system consists of signal emitters and sensors applied to each soldier, weapon and vehicle, simulating the fire of weapons systems and detecting hits. All sensors are linked to the control centre, in which the collected data is processed by a server structure and provided via 64 workstations for real-time evaluation and after-action revues.

The Altmark Training Area belonging to the GÜZ H encompasses 23,000 hectare, is 30km long and 12km wide. At the northern end of the training area is situated Schnöggersburg. This FIBUA or Fighting In Built-Up Areas facility covers six square kilometres and features 550 building. It also has 16km of roads, several multi-storey blocks, a train station, an industrial area, a slum, an underground system, an 800m long river with several bridges that can be removed, a 600m long sewage system that can be used for operational purposes and an airport.

With the Ausbildungsverband the GÜZ H can field its own battalion-size Opposing Force (OPFOR). The unit includes, tank, armoured infantry, light infantry and armoured engineer assets. In addition to serving as a potent enemy during full scale warfighting, elements of the Ausbildungsverband can also function as civilian role-players or irregular forces within peace support operation scenarios.

The armoured fist of the 1 R Welsh Battle Group is provided by Ajax Squadron of the Royal Tank Regiment ~ here Challenger 2 main battle tanks of this unit can be seen crossing an obstacle on the Altmark Training Area [© Carl Schulze]

[images © Carl Schulze]

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