Norfolk soldiers prepare for deployment in Poland
PUBLISHED: 09:16 15 February 2018 | UPDATED: 09:24 15 February 2018
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Soldiers based in Norfolk have been training in Cumbria in preparation for a six month deployment in the Baltics.
The soldiers of C Squadron from the Swanton Morley-based 1st The Queen’s Dragoon Guards have taken part in a series of pre-deployment exercises ahead of a deployment in Poland.
The intensive training has taken place in territory that replicates the conditions they will face in Eastern Europe and has included day and night exercises in sub-zero temperatures.
When the squadron deploys in the spring they will join the United States-led 2nd Cavalry Regiment Battlegroup, part of NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence based close to Russia’s western border.
The battlegroup is one of four that have been deployed in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland to reassure eastern NATO member states of their security following Russia’s annexation of Crimea.
“We are deploying at the request of the Polish Government, as part of NATO, to act a deterrent against any potential hostile activity whilst providing reassurance to our NATO allies,” said squadron leader, Major Ben Parkyn.
“Working with our US allies is nothing new for the squadron having trained alongside them twice on exercise Diamondback in California in 2016 and 2017.”
Lance Corporal Leuan Jones, 22, from South Wales is also among those heading to Poland.
He said: “This training has given me a better understanding of the role we’ll be doing in Poland to reassure the population. I’m really looking forward to working with Polish and US forces as part of NATO.”
In March last year, former defence secretary Michael Fallon said the deployment of British troops is the biggest of its kind since the Cold War and the goal is to counter what NATO calls, “Russian aggression”.
He added that it is a defensive deployment and troops are not there to “provoke or escalate”.
However, shortly after NATO announced the plans at the end of 2016, Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin, criticised the move calling the military build-up “a threat” which endangers Russia’s interests and security.
The Russian Defence Minister, Sergei Shoigu, also said in October 2017 the situation is “tense” and warned it could lead to escalation.