The 7 Light Mechanised Brigade Combat Team Headquarters, The Desert Rats recently deployed to Sennelager in Germany to participate in Exercise Arrcade Ledger, a rigorous training program aimed at validating them to become the NATO Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF) HQ. The validation process will be overseen by the Allied Rapid Reaction Corps (ARRC), further highlighting the significance of this exercise. Exercise Arrcade Ledger serves as a critical milestone for the 7 Light Mechanised Brigade Combat Team HQ, as it aims to demonstrate its operational readiness and ability to lead multinational forces across a multitude of scenarios. The exercise will test the HQ’s capabilities in areas such as command and control, decision-making, and interoperability with allied forces in both Command Post Exercises and Field Training Exercises.
Led by Brigadier Guy Foden, the Desert Rats bring together a highly skilled and experienced team of military personnel from various nations. The multinational composition of the VJTF not only strengthens its capabilities but also highlights the collective effort of NATO member states in enhancing their joint operational readiness. Once validated, the HQ will be ready to rapidly respond to any emerging threats or crises, providing a robust and agile force capable of ensuring the security and stability of NATO member states. During Exercise Arrcade Ledger, the HQ will work closely with the ARRC, which is responsible for assessing and validating their readiness to assume the role of the NATO VJTF HQ. The ARRC, based in Innsworth, United Kingdom, is known for its expertise as a Rapid Deployable Headquarters and will itself assume the role of NATO Response Force in 2024.
The training scenarios will include command post exercises designed to challenge the HQ’s ability to make rapid and informed decisions in a fast-paced environment. Additionally, the HQ will be tested on its ability to coordinate and integrate with other NATO forces and Non-Governmental Organisations. Outside of the HQ a number of companies of Mechanised Infantry and Light Cavalry, supported by uncrewed aerial vehicles and observers test their interoperability with task force colleagues from across the Alliance. Exercise Arrcade Ledger not only provides an opportunity for the 7 Light Mechanised Brigade Combat Team HQ to showcase its capabilities but also serves as a platform for fostering cooperation, understanding, and cohesion between NATO member states, thereby strengthening the Alliance’s collective defence posture.
The 7th Light Mechanised Brigade Combat Team is a formation in the British Army with a direct lineage to 7th Armoured Brigade and a history that stretches back to the Napoleonic Wars. It saw active service in the Crimean War, the Second Boer War and both the First and the Second World Wars. In 2014, the 7th Armoured Brigade was re-designated as 7th Infantry Brigade, thereby ensuring that the famed “Desert Rats” continue in the British Army’s Order of battle. The British Secretary of State for Defence, Philip Hammond, announced that the 7th Armoured Brigade would have its Challenger 2 tanks and heavy armoured battalions removed over the next decade. The Brigade itself will be re-designated as the 7th Infantry Brigade and Headquarters East, but retain its famed ‘Desert Rats’ insignia. On 24 February 2015, the brigade formally stepped out of its armour role into that of an infantry brigade and regional point of command. At the same time, 49th (East) Brigade merged into 7th Infantry Brigade.