IT WAS a case of all hands on deck last week as a naval task force descended on the Angus coastline in preparation for major NATO wargames.
On Friday the initial phase of Exercise Joint Warrior kicked off at Barry Buddon with a rehearsal of amphibious landing operations by Royal Marine’s 4 Assault Squadron and a combat air drop by K company of 42 Commando.
The action was coordinated from the operations room of Royal Navy flagship and amphibious landing carrier, HMS Bulwark.
Flag Captain Andrew Burns explained the role of HMS Bulwark in Friday’s operation. He said: “We have two key roles. One is to provide a command platform for the commander of the UK task force group and his staff and also to deliver amphibious capability and to have effect on the sea and from the sea and to affect events on the land. So we will project Royal Marines from the ship to the shore and that’s the main role of the ship during this exercise.”
The annual military exercise will see nine NATO partners cooperating in a complex and evolving simulated campaign off the Scottish coast.
It will involve the deployment of around 12,000 personnel, 30 fixed wing aircraft, 30 helicopters and 40 warships.
Suggestions that Exercise Joint Warrior was a response by NATO to North Korean military posturing were quickly rubbished by Commodore Paddy McAlpine, commander in chief of the UK task group.
He said: “This is an annual exercise and it’s a long planned exercise. We’ve been doing this exercise up here for 60 years.
“It’s not a response to anywhere at all. We have got to train. Professional sportsmen train all the time, that’s how they deliver on the pitch. Professional military, soldiers, sailors, airmen, we train all the time to ensure that we can deliver on the battlefield.”
Leading the Royal Marine contingent is Brigadier Martin Smith, commanding officer of 3 Commando Brigade.
Brigadier Smith highlighted the importance of training areas such as Barry Buddon. He said: “It’s essential, absolutely essential and for us specifically of course, a training area on the coast. So we’ll be in Barry Buddon and you will see that what we are doing here is extremely important at the beginning of a major exercise.”
Commodore McAlpine agreed and added: “These are really important training areas that we have. We can’t get them anywhere else in the UK. It’s a demanding environment, demanding weather, so you’ve got to be on top of your game to be training up here. Then once we’re all trained we’re all ready to go and do our Cougar deployment later in the year.”
Exercise Joint Warrior is slated to continue until the end of April.