In the autumn the army united thousands of troops on Iron Titan, a large-scale exercise across England and Wales. It was the largest land exercise for 20 years, bringing together 3rd (UK) Division to test the army’s fighting capability and identify areas to improve.
Scenarios were created to examine decision making under realistic conditions, testing equipment and logistic support in a controlled yet demanding environment.
Brigadier General Matthew Brown, US Army, Deputy Commanding General 3rd (UK) Division, said: “How we fight in the near future is a product of how we prepare ourselves today – and we couldn’t be prouder of the way the entire team is leaning into this training.”
Opportunities like Iron Titan allow units and individuals to come together and contribute their specialist skills towards a much bigger goal under the direction of the divisional headquarters.
The exercise was designed to test troops in realistic warfighting field conditions. This required them to operate from challenging locations and to disconnect from social media and routine communications. Lessons from current conflicts highlight the vulnerabilities mobile phones bring to both serving personnel and their families, so making troops physically disconnect created the right mentality for real-life scenarios.
Exercises inevitably take serving personnel away from home and this can disrupt family dynamics and add stresses to those left at home. Iron Titan generated unique challenges as the exercise was largely on the Salisbury Plain Training Area – close to many of the homes and families of those taking part.
Cpl Mike Frances said: “It’s important that the guys get used to getting their home affairs in order before they go. “That way they don’t have to worry about what’s going on back at home, which is really important for this sort of level of exercise. If the morale at home is low, it has an impact on the exercise and the way the soldiers are working.”
2nd Lt Connie O’Grady said: “Exercise can be really tough for the first few days, especially on troops because you come out of camp and you go into exercise. There is a change of routine and you don’t get to see your family.
“A long exercise allows units to get into a routine and gives everyone the time to really get to know their team. We’ve seen each other every day for 18 to 19 hours a day for the last four weeks.”