A Haverhill soldier has taken part in a joint military exercise that is a first for the Army, with British and Spanish parachute regiments taking part.
Lance Corporal Aaron Carr, 23, a former pupil at Samuel Ward Academy, has served two operational tours of Afghanistan.
Now the paratrooper has taken part in Exercise Iberian Eagle, a new departure for B Company, 3 PARA.
The exercise, the first of its kind in Spain with the 1st Bandera “Roger De Flor”, is aimed at preparing the paratroopers to be deployed anywhere in the world as the first soldiers on the ground.
As such they will need to be able to operate without the logistical and world-class medical facilities that have been developed in Afghanistan over the last ten years, whilst still responding to the threats of modern operations.
“Everything we did before was orientated towards Afghanistan because we always had a tour to prepare for, but now we are on the Airborne Taskforce role we could be going anywhere so we’ve got to go back to basics,” Aaron said.
“We need the skills and drills to be able to go anywhere, not just Afghanistan. It makes it an exciting role because we don’t know where we might be needed.
“So we have got to be trained to a high standard for every environment. That’s why this exercise is important, and it has also given us the chance to work with a different country.
We’ve worked with lots of different nations in Afghanistan, but I’ve not worked with the Spanish before so this is a good opportunity to learn how they work and share ideas.”
As part of the exercise scenario the soldiers were dropped in to the arid slopes around Zaragoza, Spain, for five days with no respite from the bitter winds that howl across the plains, taking the temperature below freezing.
Carrying weights of around 60kilos they then needed to patrol up to 25 kilometres a day to complete a series of clearance and training drills at purpose built compounds before making camp each night using derelict buildings and sleeping under their ponchos.
The final stage of the Zaragoza exercise was a joint attack with 465 soldiers from the Spanish parachute regiment on an enemy compound before travelling to Madrid for a joint parachute jump.
Exercise Iberian Eagle is just part of B Company, 3 PARA’s training for the Airborne Taskforce role, which they will take on as part of 16 Air Assault Brigade in May. The battlegroup will be on permanent readiness to deploy at five days notice.