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Feb 20 2023

The Queen's Royal Hussars prepare to take the helm of NATO eFP Battlegroup Estonia

SZCZECIN, Poland – The British Army's Queen's Royal Hussars (QRH) have taken part in exercise Tallinn Dawn, which is a Mission Ready Exercise and part of their pre-deployment training for NATO's enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) in Estonia. The demanding exercise involved live firing, field training, infantry, artillery and engineers. 

The 22-day exercise involved an Armoured Battlegroup of 800 soldiers and 250 vehicles including the Challenger 2 tanks, Warrior armoured fighting vehicles and other armoured vehicles.

Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Stephen Wilson explains what the validation exercise means: “Exercise Tallinn Dawn is the culmination of all the mission ready collective training that the QRH Battlegroup have been conducting for the last six months."

It is a significant milestone to bring all elements of the Battlegroup, including a French Foreign Legion Company, together in an expeditionary deployment to Germany to test our ability to live fire on Combined Arms Manoeuvre.

The Combat Ready Training Centre based within the Sennelager Training Area (Germany) oversees the exercise with mentors and observers on the ground advising personnel. Tracking devices are fitted to troops and equipment like the Challenger 2, which relay information to the Exercise Control room where data on how the Battlegroup are performing is collated. The results from the information collected are then analysed to provide assessment and feedback of the Battlegroup’s performance. 

A British soldier with The Queen's Royal Hussars performs dismounted maneuvers while deployed on exercise Tallinn Dawn / Photo by British Army

The demanding Tallinn Dawn exercise is an arduous mix of simulation and live-firing (day and night) field training exercises, involving armour, infantry, artillery, and engineers. Delay and hold serials were also carried out to trade space for time with a range of supporting capabilities fixed together to develop the level of competencies, capabilities and integration required. 

Lieutenant Colonel Wilson looks ahead to The Queen’s Royal Hussars role as the Battlegroup: “We are looking forward to deploying to Estonia and integrating with the 1st Estonian Brigade. The opportunity to hone our skills in a new environment with a very capable armoured battlegroup, including a French Foreign Legion Company, is the pinnacle of our role as armoured soldiers.”

Whilst deployed, the battlegroup will conduct multiple exercises with the Estonians to learn how to integrate and operate effectively with them.

The QRH take up the role as Battlegroup from the King’s Royal Hussars as part of the regular rotation of forces. UK Armed Forces and partners have a pivotal role to play, enhancing Euro-Atlantic security in the regions, reassuring the Allies, and deterring our adversaries. “The Queen’s Royal Hussars are very familiar and close with our Estonian Allies”, Wilson continues. “We have deployed Challenger 2 tanks and their crews on Operation Cabrit 1, 5, 6 and 7* and, on top of our battlegroup deployment on Cabrit 12, are expecting to send more tanks and troops to Cabrit 13 and 14. However, for many of our soldiers it will be their first overseas operational deployment which is quite the challenge.”

Exercise Tallinn Dawn saw British and French soldiers working in concert ahead of their deployment to Estonia as part of NATO's enhanced Forward Presence / Photos by British Army

“Overseas deployments undeniably place a strain on individuals and their families. However, as a family regiment with extensive operational experience we are used to preparing soldiers for this challenge and making sure their families are well supported throughout.” The QRH were last in Estonia in 2021 on Operation Cabrit 7 and, as their Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Wilson is proud to be leading the Battlegroup on their next operation:

When we go to Estonia our identity is not as The Queen’s Royal Hussars or the British Army. Our identity will be as the NATO eFP Battlegroup. This is vital to reassuring our NATO allies that, when called, we are ready to mobilise, fight and defend the NATO alliance.

“The Estonian people have invited and welcomed NATO troops to help strengthen the NATO alliance across the Baltics states to deter aggression in Eastern Europe.” 

The QRH is the most senior armoured regiment in the British Army. Its personnel operate the Challenger 2, providing armoured strength on the battlefield. The regiment, in its current form was established in 1993, when the Queen’s Own Hussars and the Queen’s Royal Irish Hussars were brought together into a single unit. With a distinguished service history, the regiment have played a crucial role in almost every conflict since their formation, including Bosnia, Iraq, and Afghanistan. 

Exercise Tallinn Dawn brought all elements of the Queen's Royal Hussars Battlegroup (incl. a French Foreign Legion Company) together in an expeditionary deployment to Germany to test their ability to live fire on Combined Arms Manoeuvre / Photos by British Army

*Operation Cabrit, established in 2017, is the name of the UK operational deployment to Estonia and the Baltic states, where around 900 British personnel lead a multinational, combat-ready force Battlegroup as part of NATO's enhanced Forward Presence.

Story by Multinational Corps Northeast Public Affairs Office based on release by the British Army

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