Falklands : Falklands' Exercise Purple Strike
Submitted by Falkland Islands News Network (Juanita Brock) 25.07.2010 (Article Archived on 08.08.2010)
During the previous week British Forces South Atlantic Islands (BFSAI) completed an arduous all-encompassing exercise in the depths of the Falkland Islands winter.
Ex PURPLE STRIKE
Media Ops (MPC)
During the previous week British Forces South Atlantic Islands (BFSAI) completed an arduous all-encompassing exercise in the depths of the Falkland Islands winter. The exercise was designed to test the ability of BFSAI to defend the Falkland Islands against any military aggressor. To a greater or lesser extent all of the1800 soldiers, sailors, airmen and civilians (including contractors) based at Mount Pleasant Complex were involved in the exercise as were members of the Falkland Islands Defence Force (FIDF) and the Royal Falkland Islands Police.
During the first few hours of the exercise Number 3 Company of the Welsh Guards, reinforced with elements of the Light Dragoons and the FIDF embarked HMS CLYDE and deployed to West Falklands with a mission to destroy the enemy positions that had been located there. After completing a difficult landing in very rough seas the force spent the night in and around Port Howard preparing for battle. Their preparations were helped by infra-red footage of the enemy provided from Sea King helicopters using their thermal imaging cameras.
Meanwhile out at sea HMS CLYDE remained on station in Falkland Sound in support of the soldiers ashore and HMS PORTLAND conducted anti-submarine patrols as reports had been received that an enemy submarine was operating in the Falkland Island waters.
In the early hours of Wednesday morning the force launched a deliberate attack against the enemy positions the mortar platoon subjected the enemy to an intense bombardment prior to the positions being assaulted. Throughout the attack the Typhoons were ready to provide close air-support, should it have been required. After a four hours long live firing attack the landing force finally cleared the objective of all enemy. There followed a 7 kilometre march back to the waiting HMS CLYDE. After boarding HMS Clyde the soldiers returned to East Cove Military Port where they prepared for subsequent operations.
Whilst the soldiers were fighting the enemy on land, aircraft from BFSAI supported by the radar stations on the Falkland Islands scoured the skies and the seas for enemy aircraft, ships and submarines.
After a short respite, the soldiers were re-tasked to deal with further enemy positions at Onion Range in East Falkland. The soldiers were flown in by both Sea King and Brintel helicopters which had to fly through some very challenging weather. Once they had landed the company dug-in for an extremely cold night. Whilst the soldiers waited reconnaissance patrols moved forward to locate the enemy. Once the enemy had been found the soldiers moved forward to positions close to the enemy. At 8.30 am the mortar team unleashed a murderous bombardment on the unsuspecting enemy prior to them being comprehensively defeated by BFSAI forces.
Whilst the company of Guardsmen, Light Dragoons and members of the FIDF were fighting the enemy positions further-a-field the enemy brought same time the fight to BFSAI’s doorstep. The enemy mounted all manner of attacks: patrols tried to infiltrate the Mount Pleasant Complex, vehicles were ambushed and bombs were planted by saboteurs. To counter these myriad threats everyone from chefs to clerks to Staff Officers, had to stand up and be counted!
At the same time that Mount Pleasant was being attacked far out to sea an enemy submarine fired a torpedo at HMS PORTLAND. Using its array of sensors HMS PORTLAND was quickly able to locate the torpedo which it rapidly neutralised. The frigate then turned its attention to enemy submarine which it rapidly engaged and destroyed.
In Stanley the Royal Falkland Island Police had been alerted to the presence of armed men at in Hadassa Bay by a passer by. The Chief of Police, Gary Finchett, immediately stood up his emergency planning team which included Major Eddie Henwood the BFSAI SILVER Command liaison officer and Captain Derek Clarke FIDF SILVER Command liaison officer. Under the command of Lieutenant Justin MacPhee a FIDF patrol was sent to investigate. Supported by police from both RFIP and the military, the FIDF patrol located a team of 4 enemy attempting to escape by boat. After a short action the FIDF easily over-powered the enemy force. Chief of Police Gary Finchett said ”We worked very well together, using both FIG and BFSAI assets. It was an excellent training opportunity and it proved how easily both organisations can work together. Lessons have obviously been learnt and I look forward to testing these in the next joint exercise”.
Whilst many lessons have been identified the exercise was a huge success. The exercise coordinator, Major Archie Douglas, The Royal Regiment of Scotland, said his main aims were “to test the command and control of all elements of BFSAI forces and the recall plan; and the total integration of all elements of BFSAI”. He went on to say that he was “thoroughly pleased” with how the exercise had been executed and the “professionalism” demonstrated throughout the ranks and from all departments.
Commander British Forces, Commodore Philip Thicknesse reiterated these sentiments and said “such routine training exercises allow for the continued preparation and training; proving that military personnel and assets are fully prepared and highly capable and as such can efficiently work alongside the civilian agencies to protect the islands should the need arise. The arduous conditions added to the realism and the troops had to give that much more to overcome both the weather and the enemy”.
Just before 11 am on Wednesday 21st July 2010, the 2222 emergency phone sounded at the crash bays of the RAF Firefighter Section at MPC with a report of a vehicle fire on the Stanley road. The fire crew responded to the call and speedily made their way to the incident location. The smoke was visible from fourteen miles away giving the crew a clear indication of the wind direction and severity of the fire. On route the breathing apparatus team prepared their sets for immediate fire fighting use and the rescue of any potential casualties. The vehicle on fire was a large eight wheel dump truck filled with gravel from the quarry on its way towards MPC. The entire rear end of the truck was ablaze with flames licking dangerously around the vehicles fuel tank. The Joint Services Police Support Unit patrol vehicle arrived and set up a cordon to prevent traffic from both directions becoming involved in the area of the incident. The breathing apparatus team were committed to the fire, fighting it back and screening the fuel tank from the fire.
Once the fire was extinguished the crew continued to cool the vehicle – the fire had reached very high temperatures and re-ignition was a real fear. The force fire officer arrived at this point and liaised with the police and medics advising them of the situation. The crew checked for hot spots and other possible re-ignition sources with the thermal imaging camera.
The Stanley Fire Service arrived at just after 11.30 pm: the vehicle was sufficiently cool at this point for the Section Commander to hand the scene over to the Senior Officer from Stanley Fire Service and all RAF fire service vehicles returned to MPC.
Source © Media Ops MPC