Ex CONGREVE SPEAR Tests British Army’s Divisional Fires Regiment
26th Regiment Royal Artillery Training with New Multiple Launch Rocket System
Exercise CONGREVE SPEAR has seen soldiers from 26th Regiment Royal Artillery (26 RA) spend the last five weeks on Salisbury Plain Training Area exercising in their new role as the Army’s Divisional Fires Regiment.
26 RA have been re-roled from a close-support artillery regiment to the British Army’s new Divisional Fires Regiment, supporting the 3rd (UK) Division, the Iron Division. Previously equipped with the AS-90 self-propelled 155mm gun, the Regiment have been comprehensively tested on their new weapon, the Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS).
The AS-90 had a range of 25-30 km, but with the MLRS the Regiment can now reach the Divisional Deep Battlespace out to 84 km with precision rockets using a variety of munitions.
After 30 years in Gütersloh, Germany, 26 Regiment have moved to Larkhill, Wiltshire, where they have been joined by 19 (Gibraltar 1779-1783) Battery, 132 Battery (The Bengal Rocket Troop) and 176 (Abu Klea) Battery who were previously located at Albemarle Barracks, near Newcastle. This consolidates the Divisional Fires Regiment in a single location for the first time, with state-of-the-art facilities as part of a new Super-Garrison.
Exercise CONGREVE SPEAR saw 26 RA deploy on exercise for the first time since their return from Germany. With the intensity of the exercise progressively building from initial low-level training in the field that included improving core artillery skills, through the Battle Craft Syllabus, to enhancing the soldiers tactical acumen, the MLRS detachments faced a number of challenges designed to test their ability to operate as and respond to the demands of a Divisional Fires Regiment against a peer enemy. Among these challenges was a serial to see how the MLRS crews would react and look to avoid, detection by unmanned aircraft systems deployed by colleagues from 32nd Regiment RA.
Lieutenant Colonel Kieran Sheldon, Commanding Officer 26th Regiment RA, explained the value of the exercise:
“Exercise CONGREVE SPEAR has provided us with an opportunity for the young soldiers to transfer skills learned in training and understand how to apply these drills working together as a crew in controlled pressurised environments. Building on these understandings we have then progressed from detachment level to a point at the end of the exercise where we have operated as a complete Regiment, systematically testing our communications, sustainment and operating procedures; thereby enabling us to learn, redesign doctrine and concepts to reflect modern warfare. For us this exercise has been vital in bringing the Regiment together and proving that we are ready to go and war fight in our role – it has been a real success.”
The exercise culminated with General Officer Commanding 3(UK) Division, Major General James Swift OBE, and Brigadier Mark Pullan MBE, Commander 1 Artillery Brigade, visiting to witness the Regiment’s capabilities in action.
Source: British Army
Image: 26 Regiment Royal Artillery with the the Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) on Salisbury Plain during Ex CONGREVE SPEAR (Crown Copyright, 2019).