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3 MERCIAN Foreword


by Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel R Spiby


It is fitting that I am writing this on Salisbury Plain as this is where 3 MERCIAN (STAFFORDS) have spent much of the last year. As the Land Warfare Centre Battlegroup, the Battalion has been tasked to provide training support for Units preparing to deploy on Operations. This has been a demanding task requiring the Battalion to provide a free play, free thinking enemy. In over a dozen Battlegroup exercises, the Battalion is yet to come second and has established for itself a reputation for complete professionalism in all it does. This has ranged from support to Brigade-level


exercises to providing the Army’s high profile Combined Arms Fire Power Demonstration. No Commanding Officer could have asked for more.


The task, however, has demanded that the Battalion operate at a significant tempo with 60 – 70% of each month deployed. Time in barracks has been limited and we have not seen the chance to gather the entire Battalion on a single day in the last year. In between commitments, we have exercised all our Freedoms throughout Staffordshire and the West Midlands culminating in a Service in Lichfield Cathedral to lay up the old Colours.


‘A’ Company


by Maj Cox MBE OC:


CSM: WSM:


1 Platoon 2 Platoon 3 Platoon


Maj A Cox MBE


WO2 (CSM) S Evans WO2 D Illsley 2Lt Rossiter Lt P Shergold Lt T J Causer


As the Land Warfare Centre Battlegroup rôle continues for all the soldiers of A Company, the commitments have been fast and furious; however, the Company has been relentless in making the most of any space in the calendar. The turbulent times have seen a change at the top (and not only with the name of the Company itself) with Maj Greg Bayliss relinquishing command and handing over to Maj Andy Cox; Maj Bayliss and his family have now moved on to pastures new at PJHQ in Northwood. In addition to this, WO2 Travis has become RQMS (M) with WO2 Evans now sitting in the chair as CSM A Company; in addition, WO2 Illsley has returned to A Company as the Warrior Sergeant Major.


The Mercian Eagle


The majority of the Company’s activity in the past twelve months has predictably been dedicated to LWC commitments; however, Company training has been a close second, with Adventurous Training, sport and leisure not far behind. Whenever the lads of A Company see an Ex Wessex Warrior pencilled in on a training programme, they know exactly what to expect: five hard days when the Company delivers a high quality enemy force to whichever battle group is spending its time on the Plain. We have now been put against the Queen’s Dragoon Guards, 2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, 4th Battalion The Rifles (Sgt Rob Garner featuring heavily in the all important battles for Imber!), The VIKINGs and, most recently, 1st Battalion The Coldstream Guards; we provided them all with a first rate opposition. Depending on the make up of our opposition (and, more pertinently, it seems, how hard it has been raining the previous few weeks) the Company will either deploy in the light rôle or mounted in Warrior. The flexibility the Company has now developed has meant that we have been


consistently successful, and currently proudly able to boast to not having lost a single mission! A new spin was added to Ex Wessex Warrior in September when a visit from the Indian Army provided a whole new number of Warrior dismounts to work alongside, another unique experience courtesy of the LWC role.


If the OPFOR exercises are the tactical, fast-paced and demanding exercises at the right hand end of the scale, then sat firmly at the left hand end have been a number of theatre specific Mission Rehearsal Exercises, undertaken by exercising Units whose operational deployment is imminent. The requirements for the lads are far less glamorous: they become a “rent-a-mob” for the duration of the exercise and mimic the rôle of the civilian population. The experiences of living like homeless people through the February blizzards will make a few think twice about signing off from the Army and making the leap of faith into the wider world of credit crunch Britain. The other myriad commitments that everyone has undertaken are too numerous to mention but one element


October 2009 57


Throughout all of these events, the support we have received has been superb and made us feel very much appreciated.


The Battalion is looking forward to, and is well prepared for, the impending Arms Plot move to Fallingbostel. Whilst those of us returning are few in number there is, across the Battalion, a genuine enthusiasm for the opportunities and challenges that life in 7 Armoured Brigade will bring. The Battalion will deploy next summer to BATUS in Canada before beginning preparations for the next deployment.


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