UK Army vehicle crew training school opens in Germany
The British Army has opened a new facility in Germany to provide soldiers and marines who are likely to deploy to Afghanistan next year with essential training in how to operate military vehicles as a crew.
The Crew Training School (CTS) based at the British Army's world class training ranges in Sennelager, North Germany, has been established specifically to prepare vehicle crews for Afghanistan. It will initially train troops from 3 Commando Brigade and Germany-based 7th Armoured Brigade before switching to concentrate on 20th Armoured and 19 Light Brigades in the New Year.
The school is unique in that it is the only facility in the British Army which brings together entire crews to prepare them to use their skills in conjunction with each other to operate, maintain and conduct live cover fire from the military vehicles which they will use in theatre.
When crews leave the school they will be able to start their mission specific training as fully qualified vehicle crews.
Administered by the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, the CTS includes an extensive cross-country training range with deep water crossings, ditches, dirt tracks and slopes to replicate as closely as possible the conditions in Afghanistan.
Captain James Fyvie, who serves with the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards and is second-in-command of the CTS, said:
"This school will be the first opportunity these people will have to work together as a crew - the vehicle commander, gunner and driver will be taught to hone their respective skills and then use their vehicle just as they will be expected to in Afghanistan.
"It provides an opportunity to develop tactics, manoeuvres and a chance to actually fire weapons from a moving vehicle moving across difficult terrain. The training is comprehensive and develops confidence in the equipment but more importantly the team.
"This is the only facility available to us outside of Afghanistan and with many of the soldiers due to deploy based in Germany it's good to have it here. It means that they will be able to train without the need to spend a long period of time away from their families who are based here in Germany with them - and reduce the cost of travelling without making any compromises on quality."
Over the next year the CTS will train up to 4,000 personnel on vehicles which include the Jackal, Springer, RWMIK Land Rover, Mastiff 2, Ridgback, Vixen, Husky and quad bikes.
More than 100 driving and maintenance instructors and tactical vehicle crew commander instructors are based there and provide five-day packages for crews, drivers and operators.
Captain Fyvie added:
"All troops going through the school are expected to apply the same levels of expertise and maintenance skills which will be required in theatre."
The driver training area was constructed by Royal Engineers from Germany-based 1st (UK) Armoured Division and the Territorial Army. This provided excellent training, allowing them to plan, design, resource and then implement the project. Existing tracks were upgraded in order to provide as challenging and realistic a facility as possible.
During the official opening ceremony Major General Adrian Bradshaw, General Officer Commanding 1st (UK) Armoured Division, said:
"Our troops in Afghanistan are equipped with some of the best vehicles currently available. They are rightly our first priority for equipment, but that leaves us with a complex task of managing the training fleet for collective and specialist individual training.
"This complex task, in conjunction with an extremely busy, wider collective training burden, led to the decision to concentrate this function in a specialist training establishment. This results in a number of benefits ranging from the reduction of nights away from home, maximising the numbers of qualified crews available for collective training, through to increased vehicle availability that comes from pooling our expertise together.
"I am delighted to see the way in which the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards have responded to this task. They have taken their long experience of using armoured fighting vehicles and created a comprehensive training package that allows every student to gain from their experience.
"The establishment of the Crew Training School in Germany makes optimal use of the existing training estate and minimises the requirement to move on public roads - minimising the disruption to the public and creating more time to concentrate upon training."