British soldiers lead joint desert training exercise with Oman

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Photographer: PO PHOT Dave Jenkins - UK MOD © Crown copyright 2023

Troops perfected their battle-winning tactics during a two-week exercise alongside the Royal Army of Oman – a key partner in the Gulf.

British troops have been honing their desert war-fighting skills on a training area six times the size of Salisbury Plain over the last two weeks (3-14 February).

They were taking part in Exercise Khanjar Oman, the first main training exercise of their four-month deployment to Oman.

The combined exercise saw soldiers operate alongside the Royal Army of Oman on the Ras Madrakah joint training area, as they built towards a mock assault on an enemy urban area. The exercise tested troops’ ability to train and operate in arduous terrain, including desert plains, complex wadi systems and mountains.

Image shows Omani and British soldiers as they complete the attack a simulated village as part of Exercise Khanjar Oman and celebrate together. Photographer: PO PHOT Dave Jenkins – UK MOD © Crown copyright 2023

At the same time, it provided an opportunity to perfect key soldiering skills, including soldiering in austere environments, working with partner forces and learning battle-winning tactics to protect the British public from future threats.

Battlegroup Commander Lt Col Ben Hawes 2nd Battalion, The Royal Anglian Regiment, is preparing his troops to assume command of NATO’s Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF) in January 2024. He said:

Since March last year, the focus of our training has been to ensure that we are ready to fight against a peer enemy force. This exercise is the UK ensuring that its spearhead battlegroup is in exactly the right place to go out the door.

My troops have been absolutely put through their paces. Everything that our peer enemies could do to us, has been done to us. I’ve operated with every single one of my radio frequencies jammed, I’ve operated with no GPS, I’ve operated at night for long periods of time; we’ve done training serial after training serial.

This is about our ability to operate and sustain an operation against an enemy that has the same, or maybe even greater capabilities than we do.

More than half the soldiers participating in the exercise were drawn from 2nd Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment. Smaller numbers were drawn from The Royal Logistics Corps, The Royal Engineers, The Royal Artillery, The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, 1st Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment and the Coastal Security Force.

The 4th Light Brigade Combat Team is delivering the first series of exercises for Exercise Desert Khanjar, which describes the two annual, four-month deployments of UK troops to the British Army’s Land Regional Hub in Duqm, Oman.

It is the British Army’s foremost annual training and defence engagement event to take place across the Gulf region, involving up to 1,000 British and 100 Omani soldiers.

During deployment, British personnel undertake unit training, exercise with partners and provide a forward-based force capable of building regional security capabilities and responding to threats where they arise.

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