The NATO officers witnessed the troops from the British Army’s 23 Amphibious Engineer Squadron rehearse 'wide wet gap' crossing drills on their M3 Amphibious Rigs at their German base on the River Weser.
The Royal Engineers will play a key role during the massive US-led exercise in Poland during May 2020 where they will come under the command of the UK-based multinational NATO corps.
British Army Major Andrew Smith, staff officer at NATO’s Allied Rapid Reaction Corps, said:
"We’ve come to Minden to experience and to learn about the M3 Rig and the ‘wide wet gap’ crossing capability that we have. It’s a unique and critical capability that many of us aren’t familiar with, and by coming here today we can learn about it and learn how we’re the best employer in corps warfighting.
As we exercise later this year on ‘Defender Europe 20’, large rivers and wide wet gap crossing are a key part for our planning.
"By coming here today we get to learn how we will best employ that equipment and we get a feel for it, something that’s not particularly familiar to many of us.
"By coming over here as Headquarters ARRC, we’ve brought some of our partner nations with us to show them the equipment that we have. And when we exercise our amphibious capability, it’s very much interoperable with the German army as well.
"It’s been really, really good fun. The equipment is incredibly manoeuvrable on the water, and it’s good fun to use and operate. It was surprisingly easy to drive although I don’t think I’ll be allowed to do it in fighting quarters."
The British Army's 23 Amphibious Engineer Squadron will provide their M3 Amphibious Rigs to the field training exercise phase of 'Defender Europe 20' to be held in Poland during May 2020 (Credit: Sergeant Alistair Laidlaw, British Army)
British Army Corporal Paul Peck, a Section Commander from 23 Amphibious Engineer Squadron, added:
"We’re going to go into Poland, and we’ve got the major exercise with the Americans and everybody else. And we will be putting in one of the longest bridges in there.
"We work with the Germans to do all the bridging, the ferrying, which is good especially with ‘Defender Europe’ coming up.
"So, the main aspect of it is to go with our NATO allies, and it’s nice to see from start to finish to building the bridge, watching all the armour come across and all that.
Without us you’re not going to get the armour there to defend all our allies.
Exercise Defender Europe 20 is a U.S.-led multinational exercise, including NATO's participation. It is the largest deployment of U.S.-based forces to Europe in more than 25 years with 20,000 soldiers deployed directly from the U.S. to Europe. As such, it demonstrates U.S. commitment to NATO and its resolve to stand by its European Allies and Partners.
NATO’s Allied Rapid Reaction Corps (ARRC) is a multinational warfighting corps based at Gloucester in south west England. The UK-led formation is the first NATO corps to be held at warfighting readiness since the Cold War. The Corps will participate in Exercise Defender Europe 20 in Poland and Germany during April and May 2020.