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The Arms Plot Move

Visit of the Chief of the Indian Army Staff, General Deepak Kapoor PVSM AVSM VSM ADC SM

During our time as the Land Warfare Centre (LWC) Battlegroup (BG), we have received a variety of guests, the most notable of whom must be Gen Deepak Kapoor, Chief of the Indian Army Staff (CoAS(I)), the commander of India’s 1.1 million regular and 1.8 million reserve troops. General Kapoor’s visit was part of a larger programme that brought a Company of Indian Army soldiers over to UK to train with the Battalion for a month, more of which is covered by Capt Kelly elsewhere in this journal. The Indian Army Company’s visit was the first of its kind since Indian Independence in 1949 and, with India’s ascendancy as a World Power, was considered to be vital ground for British Defence diplomacy in 2009. General Kapoor has the equivalent of 5% of the British population under command and, therefore, wields considerable influence both on the Indian subcontinent and, as India’s place in the global hierarchy develops, on an international scale as well. Clearly, it was important to set the right impression of Britain’s military capability and professionalism. The Indian Army does not currently train for the OBUA environment and, with one of the premium FIBUA facilities in Europe on our doorstep, we were directed to make the most of Copehill Down FIBUA Village to demonstrate the British Army’s ability in this area; developing OBUA doctrine in the Indian Army could be used as a possible area of closer cooperation with UK.

The visit began with the General’s arrival by helicopter and, after the usual briefings, he watched a Company/ Squadron attack on the village. The joint attack using Challenger 2 and Warrior with both Indian and British troops in the back was well rehearsed and resourced to demonstrate the full offensive capability required to provide an effective break into an urban area. General Kapoor was then shown around the FIBUA village’s facilities and a series of skills stands such as explosive entry and Molotov cocktail ranges to demonstrate the more specialist elements of fighting in the OBUA environment. The Indian Army Company also took part in the demonstrations providing an opportunity for him to see how his own soldiers had adapted to the British tactics. As General Kapoor’s timetable was limited, he did not have time to travel to Tidworth so a campaign Mess was established in Copehill Down with more than a nod to the days of the Raj. A pantechnicon was dispatched to Copehill Down with leather arm chairs, lots of silver, pictures, oak tables and some oriental rugs. The effect was impressive and many of the senior British Officers who accompanied the visit claimed not to have seen anything like it during all their years of service – a considerable accolade to those who put in the hard work to get the details right. A substantial amount of effort was put in by all those taking part in the visit and it paid dividends. The visit showed the Battalion as the highly effective force that it is, thanks to the professionalism of all those involved in the day.

by Capt N H Breen The Battalion’s last arms plot (AP) move was in March 2000 from Ternhill, Shropshire, to Mooltan Barracks, Tidworth. Now, some nine years and three months later, we move again to take up permanent residence at Lumsden Barracks, Fallingbostel, Germany. For many, this move will be their first move since they arrived in the Battalion and, for the majority of the families less the old and bold, it will be the first family move which is guaranteed to bring concerns of being so far from family and friends. Before I talk about what stage we have reached in our move preparations, many readers will not understand how a Battalion and its families - numbering in excess of 800 people - move from one country to another with what appears at face value to be little effort.

The process starts with the receipt of an instruction by the CO to move his battalion. The CO then sets up an AP steering group to start the planning process. This group is made up of Bn 2ic, QM, UWO, RAO and MTO who became the Battalion Unit Emplanement Officer (UEO). The Bn 2ic produces a schedule and, in close consultation with the QM and UEO, plans how the Unit will move. Once this plan is approved by the CO, the plan is then put in front of the Divisional Movers who add further boundaries such as how many families can be moved at any one time or how long furniture will take to reach Germany and a whole myriad of other parameters. The 2ic, QM and UEO then tweak the original plan to fit these new parameters and present the finalised plan to the CO for his approval. Once this is granted, the UEO, assisted by the UWO, starts the laborious task of accounting for every man, woman and child intending to go to Germany and placing them within a movement time frame. All movement plans are submitted to Divisional Movements Cell and aircraft reservations are made.

On current planning, a typical family who intends to take up residence in Fallingbostel will move out of their house in UK into a local hotel on Day 1. On Day 2, the removals company will pack up their belongings and, over Days 3 and 4, the soldier will prepare his or her Quarter for handover to Defence Estates (DE). The soldier will then follow one of two paths: those who are flying will be placed on the next available air trooping flight to Germany, picked up from the airport and taken to the new home; those who are driving will drive to Germany, meet a UWO representative and be taken to the new home. The Single Soldiers’ move is much simpler. They go on leave, report to a Movement Control Check Point (MCCP) which will be located close to the airport and then they are bussed to the airport of the Units’ choice. Currently, this choice is Birmingham since this is a central point within the 3 MERCIAN recruiting footprint. Within this AP process, the Battalion will have to pack up all its freight, load it into some 30 ISO containers and drive them over to Fallingbostel whilst, at the same time, receive the incoming Unit’s freight. This process is tightly controlled by UEO and his appointed 2ic.

To ease any concerns by families and put to bed any rumours that lurk within the block, the whole move has been made as transparent as possible with continuous briefings being given to both families and soldiers. The first of these briefings was a general view of Germany by the Commanding Officer in October 2008. Since then, further briefings have been given on matters such as finance and driving. The last of these was a briefing day delivered by school teachers, Divisional Movers and soldiers’ wives who had visited Fallingbostel and who were keen to pass on their thoughts of life in Germany. This proved a most beneficial day as families could apply for their quarters and school with the UWO after speaking to that individual school head teacher. The briefings have highlighted the many positive and very few negative aspects of life in Germany. Soldiers understand that, financially and socially, they will be better off and have a very positive outlook about life in Germany. The Batalion is due to be established in Fallingbostel by first parade 24th August 2009.

80 October 2009 The Mercian Eagle

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