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suite in a separate Brigade Mess and three batmen to go with each of them! This level of hosting was commonplace throughout the visit and I cannot speak highly enough of the officers and men of 16 Mech Inf Bn who went to extraordinary lengths to ensure that we were well looked after. Finally, the team saw the home of 16 Mech Inf Bn and were treated to tours of the camp, briefings on their operational commitments, dinner at the Commanding Officer’s house and cocktails with the Strike Division GOC and all senior officers in the Patiala Cantonment area. We were also able to carry out low level training with Bravo Coy including BMP2 and a Battle Group weapons capability display.


Presentation to the Indian Army officers


articles written in it, few of the JCOs or soldiers have any real fluency. This provided a minor issue as it would often take a few moments for the finer points of our messages to be relayed to the troops in Hindi by their officers. When it came to basic tactics though, the movement of both Indian and British armoured infantry are very similar with rolling, leapfrog and caterpillar methods in a box, single file or two up formation being common practice in both armies.


Ferozeshah


Dinner with Brigadier Clive Elderton, the British Defence Attaché, who had an encyclopaedic knowledge of Indian history as well as the unique skill of being able to recognise every medal that has ever been awarded, was most entertaining and it provided a fitting background to the early part of our trip as well as a useful insight into the world of defence diplomacy. Such was his interest in the regional historical military campaigns that he accompanied us north to the home of 16 Mech Inf Bn in the state of the Punjab, in anticipation of our tour of the battlefields of Ferozeshah and Moodkee. These villages had been home to fierce fighting in the Sikh wars of the 19th Century and are prominent battle honours in the history of The Staffordshire Regiment and now The Mercian Regiment.


Moodkee The Mercian Eagle


The move north from Delhi to the Punjab provided an excellent opportunity to observe some of the social, geographical and cultural diversity for which India is renowned. The mansions of Delhi were replaced by slums on the outskirts which soon turned into the smaller market towns in the flat rural region of what is known as the bread bowl of India. The cows, camels and small children that seem to take priority on all main roads were also an experience not to be missed! When we arrived in the Patiala Cantonment in the Punjab, each of the team was allocated a VIP


The main concern identified was that, due to the small number of officers in each of their Battalions (their officer manning being, surprisingly, far worse than our own), the idea of fighting the current battle whilst planning the next was alien to them. Due to the sheer size of their army, they do not have the concept of having to plan and fight at the same time as, when their mission is complete, another Battalion will simply conduct the next mission, giving them time to re-coup and plan for their next mission. These subtle differences were highlighted so as to best prepare Bravo Coy for the limited turn-around and re-deployment time it would face between missions on exercises with the LWC BG. This and the relatively slow speed of the decision-making cycle due to the requirement for translation from English to Hindi for the benefit of the soldiers were the areas that were identified as perhaps causing the greatest challenges Bravo Company would face whilst deployed to UK. However, it was felt that the tenaciousness and positive work ethic of the soldiers would go a long way towards counteracting any problems.


In hindsight, with Bravo Coy having had a very successful time in England, it appears that the training team achieved their aims whilst visiting Bravo Company in India. This was aided magnificently, of course, by the levels of planning by 16 Mech Inf Bn which had preceded the training team’s trip. This included detailed rehearsals of the anticipated form of each exercise and the construction of a sand model accurately depicting the whole of SPTA, the prominent points of which had been learnt by heart by the Officers, JCOs and NCOs! The anticipated tenaciousness of the soldiers was proven to be correct as they prevented an entire Battle Group from advancing more than 200 metres down one street in Copehill Down Village for several hours! Bravo Company reaped the rewards of their thorough preparation and all credit should go to them for their hard work and dedication.


October 2009 79


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