LONDON: Some 3,000 pe-rsonnel from eight NATO countries are training toget-her in North Macedonia on Exercise Swift Response, under the command of 16 Air Assault Brigade Combat Team (BCT).
The UK contingent is m-ade up of the 2 PARA Ba-ttlegroup, built around the airborne infantry of 2nd B-attalion The Parachute Reg-iment.
They have been supported by artillery, engin-eers, logisticians, medics, and signallers from 16 Air Assault BCT; and Aviation Task Force 1 with Apache attack helicopters and Ch-inook support helicopters.
Minister for the Armed Forces James Heappey MP said: “Exercise Swift Response shows how the British Army is transforming to become more lethal, agile, and expeditionary. Exercises alongside our partners and Allies are necessary to maintain our advantage in a complex and ever-changing world.”
“I remain proud of our Armed Forces who continue to serve their country on postings around the world, providing leadership in uncertain times.”
Travelling by road, rail, sea and air to North Mac-edonia – NATO’s newest member since joining in 2-020 – troops carried out jo-int training to build their capabilities and relationships.
The soldiers then de-ployed onto the rugged Kri-volak training range by par-achute and helicopter to se-cure and defend a foothold in simulated hostile territory, and then take the offensive.
Commander of 16 Air Assault BCT Brigadier Nick Cowley said: “On Exercise Swift Response, 16 Air Assault Brigade Combat Team, alongside multiple Army and RAF units, has truly demonstrated the lethality, agility and expeditionary capabilities of the Global Response Force. We have deployed thousands of miles across Europe to link up with our NATO allies to conduct arduous training in a challenging environment to make sure that we are ready to deploy on the most demanding missions, at short notice.”
“I have been hugely impressed by the quality of our soldiers and their ability to integrate with NATO allies. This exercise has absolutely showed me that we are ready for anything.”
The manoeuvres in North Macedonia are one element of Exercise Swift Response, which will see multinational forces under the direction of US Army Europe and Africa conducting simultaneous training across Europe – from the High North to the Balkans – to practice how airborne units can rapidly project force in response to developing crises.