Hull-based Reservist engineers have taken part in a bridging master class alongside their Regular colleagues.
Some 20 airborne sappers from 299 Parachute Squadron Royal Engineers (Volunteers), which has troops based at Gateshead, Wakefield and Hull, have been on Exercise EAGLE SAPPER with their parent unit 23 Engineer Regiment (Air Assault).
The two-week long exercise, taking place at Wyke Regis Training Area in Dorset, has seen the troops practise the full range of engineering and military skills, with a particular focus on bridge building.
The sappers built a Medium Girder Bridge across a 30m deep and 30m wide gap and used Air Portable Ferry Bridge (AFPB) to cross the fast-flowing waters of The Fleet, sandwiched between the shore and Chesil Beach. APFB is specialist equipment designed to be parachuted or moved by helicopter and set up either as a conventional bridge or a self-propelled ferry to cross wider obstacles.
Among the soldiers from Hull’s Middleton Barracks taking part in the exercise was Corporal Chris Duggan, a lorry driver in civilian life. The 38-year-old, who went to Hymers College, has been in 299 Para Sqn RE (V) for 15 years and deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan.
Cpl Duggan, a married father-of-one, said: “I enjoy the physical challenge, camaraderie and teamwork of the military and I’ve really enjoyed the two operations I’ve been on. I was in Kajaki with the Royal Marines in 2006 building gun positions, which was a lively time!
“On this exercise we’ve been working side-by-side with the Regulars and it’s worked really well. At first there was a bit of distance, but we’ve proved ourselves on tasks and are treated exactly the same.”
299 Para Sqn RE (V) is the only parachute-trained engineer unit in the Army Reserves and Cpl Duggan has completed a military parachuting course. The unit is part of 23 Engineer Regiment (Air Assault) which provides close combat engineering support to 16 Air Assault Brigade, the British Army’s rapid reaction force.
In Brief ....
16 Air Assault Brigade is the British Army’s largest brigade with 7,400 soldiers, combining the speed and agility of airborne and air assault troops with the potency of Apache attack helicopters. The brigade deployed to Afghanistan between October 2010 and April 2011 and since its return has focused on its core role as the Air Assault Task Force (AATF), ready to deploy on operations anywhere in the world at short notice.
23 Engineer Regiment (Air Assault), which is based at Rock Barracks in Woodbridge, Suffolk, provides close combat engineering support to the AATF, allowing it to fight, move and live.