A raft of advanced kit is being shipped to the personnel of 2nd Battalion, The Yorkshire Regiment as they take on an innovative new role in the Army’s structure.
As the Service’s first enhanced light force battalion (ELFB), the Cyprus-based soldiers will experiment with new weapons, sights, communications equipment, robotic platforms and unmanned aerial systems over the next 12-to-18 months before feeding the lessons they have learnt back to the defence community.
The plan forms part of a three-year Field Army programme that has the twin aim of generating the most capable and lethal light role unit, while proving a faster procurement and delivery process. At the same time, 2 Yorks will continue its role as Episkopi’s resident Infantry battalion and the regional standby battalion, on short notice to deploy if called upon. They will use the new gear to build a light role capability throughout the unit, which will then be tested and validated at battlegroup level when the formation returns from Cyprus next year.
“Our job is to work out how all of this comes together to maximum effect and our feedback will determine how this equipment is developed and what eventually becomes standard issue,” said Major Colin Lunn, officer commanding Alma Company. “It is undoubtedly an exciting time to be in 2 Yorks and there was a feeling of anticipation as the first deliveries of weapons and sights began to arrive. “There is also a recognition that the battalion has been entrusted with a great responsibility, because the outcome of our experimentation will influence how British light forces fight in the years to come. “It has been made clear that the most pertinent lessons are likely to be identified at the very lowest level, so the role of every individual in providing feedback has been emphasised.”
With equipment now starting to arrive, training plans for the ELFB are already under way and some initial drills were being carried out as this issue went to press. “We have a plan to conduct a total of 11 ELFB concentrations, which are essentially dedicated periods of training during which a nominated company will focus on this experimentation,” Major Lunn added. “Built into the programme are periods of reflection, so the personnel can consolidate their lessons and tips and pass these to the next company to build on.”
Soldier. (2021) Battalion’s New Tech Role. Soldier: Magazine of the British Army. June 2021, pp.7.