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Woman army reservist in military mission to East Africa

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An Army Reservist from Goole has been enjoying a winter break with a difference – helping to train Ugandan soldiers in the equatorial heat and humidity of East Africa.

Corporal Joanne Appleyard, who has a day job as an Army recruiter, was part of a 30-strong team led by Reservists of the 4th Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment (4 YORKS). She spent 11 days in temperatures of up to 32°C testing the Ugandan People’s Defence Force (UPDF) before it crosses into Somalia to run peacekeeping operations.

Joanne, 27, is an Army Reserve medic with the Royal Army Medical Corps and has been assessing the Ugandans’ casualty treatment and evacuation skills. She said: “They are very good soldiers working with a limited amount of equipment so we have had to adapt and learn how we can best help them go into Somalia to win hearts and minds there.”

Based at UPDF Peace Support Training School at Singo in the south of the country Joanne was part of a British Army team which helped to school a 1,900 strong Ugandan Battlegroup in a range of counter-insurgency techniques before setting the soldiers their final exam – an intensive, three day exercise designed to test their new skills to the limit.

The 4 YORKS led team also included fighting soldiers, training officers, Military Police and support staff, most of whom have civilian jobs but give up their spare time to train and serve as Army soldiers.

Joanne, a former Army cadet who joined the Reserve eight years ago, added: “Getting to places like Uganda and helping to train other armies is massively appealing to me. I have been to the Falkland Islands, Albania, Germany, I served in Afghanistan as a Combat Medical Technician in 2011-12 and I’ve met a lot of good friends too.”

Joanne, who is single, added: “My mum and dad are really proud of what I do, though they get worried sometimes, they like to research the places I’m going to as a way of getting involved and taking an interest in what I do.”

Lieutenant Colonel Iain Hallam, the training team’s Commanding Officer, said: “I’ve been really impressed with how much the Ugandan Army does with so few resources, and equally impressed with a really important quality our team has - an ability to connect with the Ugandan soldiers.”

Colonel William Beinomugisha, the Commander of UGABG 13 - the UPDF Battlegroup, said: “Everything has gone well, the training is in place and we have enjoyed it. I can say as Commander of the Battlegroup that our forces are able and ready to go to their mission.”

The training team in Uganda is being supported by a handful of Regular soldiers – a complete reversal of recent times when Army Reservists were used to supplement Regular units. It is a shift towards developing self-contained Reserve units capable of performing military tasks, such as training partner forces, independently.

The UK Armed Forces are changing, with greater emphasis being put on the Reserve Forces. The aim is that, by 2020, Reservists will be a fully integrated component of the ‘Whole Force’ and will routinely deploy as part of all military operations.

 

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