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British gunners explore regimental links with Gibraltar as they train in Buffadero

Photos by Johnny Bugeja

Following the Freedom of the City March last weekend, soldiers from 5 Battery Royal Artillery have been performing training exercises around the Rock including at Buffadero Training Centre (BTC).

5 (Gibraltar 1779-83) Battery RA is currently part of 19th Regiment RA “The Scottish Gunners”.

Battery Commander Major Luke Wadman shared his insights into the ongoing training exercise taking place.

Major Wadman explained that the battery has strong ties to the Rock, having being one of the five batteries serving during the Great Siege.

The exercise, aptly named "Barbary Sun," is taking place over three weeks and includes various phases.

The first phase of their visit was about connecting with this heritage, reading and studying up on the topic as well as doing some hikes up the Rock, adventure training and water sports such as paddle.

The middle phase revolved around the momentous event of the Freedom of the City of Gibraltar parade.

“That took place on the 10th of June and that was us as 5 Battery exercising on behalf of the Royal Regiment of Artillery, who was awarded the freedom the city back in ‘81, and has only been exercised twice since then,” he said.

“And we were really fortunate that we were the first battery to do it. And the second, so it’s been a real privilege.”

Finally, the third phase transitioned into field training.

At Buffadero the exercise involved a troop, comprising approximately 30 individuals, conducting a patrol from the Bay up the streets to BTC.

“Which is a great experience because they don’t get the opportunity to do it very often because of training on private land,” said Major Wadman.

“So it's one of the one of the benefits of training in Gibraltar as well.”

Once they patrolled up, they then did key leader engagement where they spoke to someone playing the part of a citizen of the urban training village who would provide them with information.

The troop then strategised and planned their course of action to clear the village of any potential threats.

From there, they would conduct perimeter patrolling, securing the ground for the ‘civilians’ living in the village.

Delving into the purpose of these exercises, Major Wadman clarified that their battery's primary role is to provide close artillery support to a formation brigade.

These training exercises enable them to practice scenarios they rarely get an opportunity to practice, low-level, dismounted skills and working in urban settings, in small groups and teams.

“We can transfer that sort of low-level skills and drills that the individuals training are benefiting from with training facilities in Gibraltar,” he said, adding that the team-building they were doing on the Rock would serve them well in their future role.

“So we as an organisation move on to readiness as part of the lead Armoured Combat Team, and we take that on next month, and then we are sat at readiness for whatever comes.”

Reflecting on the team's performance during the exercise, Major Wadman commended the battery's accomplishments over the past few years. From conducting widespread Covid testing during the pandemic to embarking on a nine-month tour in Estonia, returning to the UK to start the readiness training that will bring them up to being on point as part of the lead of a brigade combat team.

“It's been an incredibly busy few years, but it's meant that the battery is in such a great place because of that value, that training value they've experienced in that time,” he said.
“They have had a great time. Everyone's buzzing about all of the activity and being able to train in Gibraltar itself is truly special, sort of harking back to our heritage.”

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