With Covid-19 appearing to have become a long-term fixture, and local lockdowns affecting many of us, it will come as no surprise that the Honorable Artillery Company has found itself operating in unfamiliar territory.
Following guidance from Project PHEONIX (the Army’s directive on how we get back to training), the Regiment has slowly and carefully been navigating itself towards the “new normal”. We have been carefully rebuilding currency, competency and ensuring we can meet our enduring commitments while maintaining the health and well-being of our soldiers and their families.
The proof in the pudding of our drive to get back to training is that in September, A Battery deployed alongside 7 Parachute Regiment Royal Horse Artillery on a two-week firing camp in Sennybridge, and in October the majority of the Regiment deployed to Lydd Camp on Exercise VAMBRACE SAGE. Spread over two-weeks, the exercise was the Regiment’s Annual Deployment Exercise and the first time that we have managed to come together on such a scale since the start of lockdown.
The first week saw our soldiers put through their paces in their Mandatory Annual Training Tests, from rifle and pistol ranges (including firing the L129 Sharpshooter rifle – reliably achieving hits on a figure 11 at 700 metres) to navigation and sophisticated medical training serials. During the second week, 1 Squadron deployed onto the training area in their specialist observation post role, elements of 2 and 3 Squadron have deployed on a demanding infantry-based exercise, and HQ Squadron have been ably enabling the whole exercise. Especially gratifying to see was a new generation of signallers making great strides in the dark arts of high frequency skywave comms; it’s not overstating it to say that they are now leading the Army with their expertise.
On top of the exercise, there are six HAC officers and soldiers still deployed on Operation RESCRIPT (the military’s support to fighting COVID-19) and preparing for managing the consequences of exiting the EU. All have been huge assets to the departments within which they are working, seamlessly fusing their military and civilian specialist skills to great effect.