Having returned from their six months operational tour OP HERRICK 14 in the Helmand region at the end of October 2011, 9th/12th Royal Lancers (Prince of Wales) went back to their roots, starting training for their basic task, to provide formation reconnaissance to 7th Armoured Brigade. At the beginning of 2012, an intensive CT-I (troop training) began to improve the basic skills and drills, facing CT-2 training (squadron level) in advance, culminating in the off-training area FTX “Alamein Lance“ in June 2012.
Regarding the name chosen for the exercise, the aim of the FTX was to find something that could be easily recognised and appropriate for high intensity war fighting! The symbolicladen name El Alamein received worldwide fame, as two significant battles of the Second World War took place at the Western side of the city in the North African theatre, when British forces fought back the Germans supported by their allies.
Exercise Alamein Lance took place between the 4th and 12th June 2012. From the start this exercise was completely different to former exercises conducted in this area in recent years, it was obvious that classic formation reconnaissance was the key. On the morning of 1st June, all participating A-vehicles (CVRTs) moved from the camp to the Bergen-Hohne ranges and were loaded onto civilian low loaders to be transported to a training area some 80 kilometres away from camp, close to the south and cast of the heath city of Uelzen.
The low loaders finally reached a small metalled road in a forest near Ostedt, where vehicles rolled off and moved onto a meadow where they remained over the weekend, observed by a guard till the beginning of the exercise on Monday. This kind of large deployment reminded me very much of the former exercises seen in the 1980s!
The Uelzen area has frequently been used by the 9/12th predecessors, the Light Dragoons, since their formation in December 1992 until their return to the UK in 2000. This sparsely inhabited area, with a landscape of deep forests, wide rolling countryside, meadows and villages and civil infrastructure, makes it an ideal training area for reconnaissance formations, providing realistic conditions and covering an area of approximately 80 x 80 km.
The FTX started on early Monday morning, with all A-vehicles deployed from their staging area whilst the B-vehicles (wheeled) moved directly from camp. Ex Alamein Lance was a regimental exercise involving all squadrons, which included: A-Squadron as a Sabre Squadron equipped with CVR(T)s reinforced by a troop Spartans of C-Squadron; B-Squadron as a wheeled Sabre Squadron equipped with WMIK+ Land Rovers; C-Squadron in the role of Command and Support Squadron providing a command troop; and
Regimental Headquarters including A2 Echelons (A2ECH) and Exercise Control (EXCON).
After having passed a release point, all exercising troops (HQ, A, B and C-Squadrons) moved to their staging areas. The training corridor of A-Sqn was located in the Southern area between Noventhien and Suhlendorf whilst B-Sqn with their WMIK+ Land Rovers trained in the area between Stoetze and Hohenzethen with the huge Gohrde Forest as the main training area. HQ Sqn and Command Troop had moved in the area between Polau and Schwemlitz to setup RHQ and EXCON.
All troops started their initial training at CT-1 level on Monday, continuing until Tuesday, 5th June. On Wednesday, the first highlight of this exercise was a night crossing of a Medium Girder Bridge under realistic combat conditions when B-Sqn secured the advance of A-Sqn. The MGB was erected by 26 Armoured Engineer Squadron, 32 Engineer Regiment from Bergen-Hohne.
The next phase of the exercise started on 7th June focusing on formation reconnaissance with A-Squadron advancing to the South close to the Village of Clenze and B-Squadron advancing in the Gohrde Forrest to the North. The outer border was the road between Dahlenburg and
Hitzacker. It took the troops until sunset to accomplish this mission.
Having been replenished by A2 Echelons in the evening, B-Squadrons task was to advance to contact in Southern direction and, if necessary, to attack A-Sqn. This mission ended late on Friday morning, when all troops moved back to their staging areas deep in the forests and after a review of the operations they found time to get their heads down! Having camouflaged their vehicles, A-Squadron were then replenished directly at their staging area in the afternoon, when the exercise was interrupted for a couple of hours for an ‘Exercise BBQ’ in the woods, which was really a party and all soldiers definitely enjoyed it, emphasising that staying in the field with their vehicles is simply the best part of soldiers life, and a good change to daily life in camp! Only a short, but heavy thunderstorm with hail disturbed the party atmosphere of the Friday evening, with soldiers running for cover to their vehicles, but that’s life in the field!
On Saturday the 9th, both A and B-Squadrons were tasked with the setting up of observation posts over the weekend as no military movements were allowed over the weekend due to German regulations. At 0300 hours on Monday morning, all troops left their OPs and moved back to their staging areas in preparation for the final attack on Tuesday. The final task was to reconnoiter, attack and destroy OPFOR (Opposing Forces) with OPFOR for A-Squadron provided by C-Squadron while B-Squadron was tasked to attack HQ Squadron.
A-Squadron’s vanguard was the Fire Support Team formed by four Scimitars and one Spartan, starting the advance to contact from their staging area near Suhiendorf at 0230 hours. It was a fast and intensive attack with lots of battlefield illumination lighting up the night sky! The attack eventually finished at 0400 hours.
At 0900 hours, about 300 soldiers with 27 A — and about 50 B-vehicles moved back to camp in 15 groups.
Just six CVR(T)s were not able to track back on their own and had to be taken back to camp by Scddon-Atkinson Low Loaders of 16 Tank Transport Squadron from Fallingbostcl.
In conclusion, it can be considered that Exercise Alamein Lance, the first regimental FTX in a 443 area for three years, was a great success and provided the soldiers involved with a wide variety of situations and experiences, especially with regard to the new focused structure, with one Sabre Squadron equipped with the new WMIK+ Land Rover.
Benefiting from the experiences made on this FTX, the 9th/12th Royal Lancers (Prince of Wales) will conduct their CT-3 training (regimental Level) at BATUS within a Medicine Man Exercise, no doubt with great success!