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Ready to fight - army troops prepare for rapid reaction

PUBLISHED: 18:27 04 October 2018 | UPDATED: 18:27 04 October 2018

The skills of 7th Parachute Regiment Royal Horse Artillery (7 Para RHA) are being put to the test on the two-week-long Exercise Cypher Strike, which tests their readiness to serve as part of the Air Assault Task Force. Picture: Sgt Steve Blake RLC

The skills of 7th Parachute Regiment Royal Horse Artillery (7 Para RHA) are being put to the test on the two-week-long Exercise Cypher Strike, which tests their readiness to serve as part of the Air Assault Task Force. Picture: Sgt Steve Blake RLC

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If the call comes, this team of airborne gunners are ready to respond at a moment’s notice.

The skills of 7th Parachute Regiment Royal Horse Artillery (7 Para RHA) are being put to the test on the two-week-long Exercise Cypher Strike, which tests their readiness to serve as part of the Air Assault Task Force. Picture: Sgt Steve Blake RLCThe skills of 7th Parachute Regiment Royal Horse Artillery (7 Para RHA) are being put to the test on the two-week-long Exercise Cypher Strike, which tests their readiness to serve as part of the Air Assault Task Force. Picture: Sgt Steve Blake RLC

The skills of 7th Parachute Regiment Royal Horse Artillery (7 Para RHA), based in Colchester, are currently being put to the test on the month-long Exercise Cypher Strike running between September 16 and October 12.

The exercise tests their readiness to serve as part of the Air Assault Task Force, the British Army’s airborne rapid reaction force.

The training started on Stanford Training Area near Thetford, in Norfolk, with individual gun detachments working to refine their skills and drills, before moving to Salisbury Plain for live firing at Battery and Regimental level.

Fire Support Teams – who co-ordinate artillery and close air support for troops on the ground – have been finding targets while dug in to observation posts, which the Regiment’s 105mm Light Guns have been firing on while constantly changing position to avoid become targets themselves.

The skills of 7th Parachute Regiment Royal Horse Artillery (7 Para RHA) are being put to the test on the two-week-long Exercise Cypher Strike, which tests their readiness to serve as part of the Air Assault Task Force. Picture: Sgt Steve Blake RLCThe skills of 7th Parachute Regiment Royal Horse Artillery (7 Para RHA) are being put to the test on the two-week-long Exercise Cypher Strike, which tests their readiness to serve as part of the Air Assault Task Force. Picture: Sgt Steve Blake RLC

A key test saw a gun battery firing from dug-in positions come under attack, forcing the gunners to change position and engage line of sight targets at short range.

7 Para RHA’s Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel Nick Morton said: “This training is about maintaining and demonstrating our readiness for operations.

“We’ve thrown testing and complex situations at our soldiers and left them get on with the jobs that they’re trained to do.

“From the gun crews to the chefs, everyone has responded well to being given that responsibility and empowerment and worked really hard to achieve their missions.”

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