The mood in the airplane hangar in Akrotiri is quiet, but there’s an assurance and fixed intensity about what’s to come. More than 150 soldiers from the Lead Assault Force (LAF) are sitting in the building. They have gone through their final preparations in Cyprus and have just received the green light warning order from Brigadier James Martin, Commander 16 Air Assault Brigade. What comes next is an adrenaline rush these troops know very well, is something they have trained hard for and which all fits into their raison d’etre – agile, lean, fast.
2 PARA comes under 16 Air Assault Brigade, based in Colchester, and is the most deployable and ready formation in the British Army, standing as a core component of the UK’s Global Response Force. They spearhead the LAF, made up of key enablers from 7 Parachute Regiment Royal Horse Artillery, 32 Regiment Royal Artillery, 23 Parachute Engineer Regiment, 14 Signal Regiment the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, 16 Medical Regiment and 13 Air Assault Support Regiment, to complete whatever mission is thrown at them on the ground.
Major Drew Houston, of 7 PARA RHA, from Hertfordshire said,”The JTE was an integration of specialist skill sets from across the British Army to achieve effect. We work to take our capability to the next stage by refining what we do and how we operate with equipment. There’s a complex web of unit involvement in the build up to any JTE in order to allow us to complete what’s needed in the field. There’s an extraordinary amount of talent and professionalism to get us in a solid place for that moment when we jump from the C-130s”
This Joint Theatre Entry with the Jordanian Armed Forces, linking in with the Carrier Strike Group as part of Operation Fortis, is illustrative of the British Army’s more integrated and more expeditionary Future Soldier concept. The drop zone for the LAF and Jordanians has already been established prior to the C130 insertions. The Pathfinders, trained in specialist airborne manouevre techniques and capable of conducting offensive action tasks at very short notice, have done their job. A fire support group on the ground and the Joint Terminal Attack Controllers have ensured safe passage for the C130s, flanked by two Typhoons for air and land integration.