THOUSANDS of troops participated in one of the largest military training exercises on Salisbury Plain.

Exercise Wessex Storm takes place multiple times a year and involves approximately 1,500 to 2,000 troops from across the Army and the Royal Air Force, over two weeks, the most recent exercise came to an end last month.

The exercise involved a lot of troops, fast-moving vehicles and pyrotechnics.

Salisbury Journal: Exercise Wessex StormExercise Wessex Storm (Image: Defence Infrastructure Organisation)

While there could have been implications for public safety, WO2 Mark Devlin, Training Safety Marshal for SPTA, explained: "Public safety is a key priority for us. When an exercise of this size and complexity takes place across the Plain, we have a responsibility to make sure that the public, as well as our exercising troops, are kept safe.

"We monitor the Plain throughout the exercise, and if we come across any members of the public, we tell them that the exercise is taking place, how they might be impacted, and where they can find more information about how and when to access the area safely.

"Our key message to the public is that the training area can go from calm to combat in an instant. We encourage the public to make use of this beautiful area but to stick to the paths and rights of way, adhere to the signage and red flags, and to go online to the GOV.UK website to find out when and where you can access the area safely."

The aim of Exercise Wessex Storm is to provide troops with realistic, varied training, focused on fighting in built-up areas and training for chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear warfare, as well as fighting in woods and forests. It also includes elements of practising casualty evacuation without helicopter support.

Salisbury Journal: Exercise Wessex StormExercise Wessex Storm (Image: Defence Infrastructure Organisation)

Over 1,500 soldiers from the 7th Light Mechanised Brigade Combat Team (LM BCT) participated in the Exercise. 7 LM BCT is the Army’s deployable Light Mechanised Brigade. The Brigade consists of a light cavalry regiment, four light mechanised infantry battalions, with supporting artillery, engineering, logistics, and medical regiments integrated into a Brigade Combat Team. 

During the Exercise, the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards (SCOTS DG) were being challenged to prove their readiness to respond to international threats, supported by a company from the Royal Yorkshire Regiment, making up the combined arms Battle Group (BG). Soldiers from 3 Medical Regiment and 1 REME (Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers) also took part to provide realism.

The exercise was broken down into a week of company-level live fire exercises followed by a two-week field training exercise for the whole BG.

Salisbury Journal: Exercise Wessex StormExercise Wessex Storm (Image: Defence Infrastructure Organisation)

Maj Andrew Lucas (OC C Company, 2 Royal Anglian) who was involved in one of the tactical exercises said: "Exercise Wessex Storm was a great opportunity for C Company, the Royal Anglian Regiment.

"We were hugely well supported by the Royal Army of Oman, the Grenadier Guards and small teams from the London Regiment, the Royal Artillery, Royal Engineers, Royal Signals, and the Royal Army Medical Corps.

"It was a challenging and rewarding exercise, operating on foot across the whole of Salisbury Plain, often by night and from hasty harbour areas, with expeditionary logistics and a live, thinking enemy.

"Tactical engagement simulation was excellent and the 3 objectives of Greenlands Farm, Copehill Down and Imber Village provided a proper and challenging test for the battle group.

"Salisbury Plain was an ideal location for this training, and we are grateful to the DIO staff for planning and organising such a vital and realistic training experience that helps to prepare our troops for operations here and abroad."

At over 38,000 hectares (94,000 acres) Salisbury Plain is the UK’s largest training area and offers first-class and diverse training facilities to enable the British Army to meet its training requirements and prepare for operations worldwide.