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Updated: Feb 27, 2023

"We volunteer to go on Exercise RATTLESNAKE in Louisiana USA

Members of the 3rd battalion starting Exercise RATTLESNAKE in Louisiana.

In August 2021, volunteers from 3PWRR completed pre-training for an attachment to the Irish Guards Battlegroup for Exercise RATTLESNAKE in Louisiana. The group, made up of soldiers from B (Royal Sussex) & HQ Companies, based in Brighton/Eastbourne & Canterbury respectively, was led by Lance Corporals Avis & Browning for their 8 weeks in the USA. Here, LCpl Avis writes about their time in Louisiana.

"Our final week in the States was spent on R&R initially in Austin, Texas. A well-deserved break and a chance to further bond with the Micks over a beer (or two!).”

Upon arrival to the Irish Guards, we were embedded into to our respective sections, being split between No 1 and No 2 Coy. The general feeling among the soldiers was that of apprehension and excitement. RATTLESNAKE is known for being tough, made harder by the jungle-like environment and the “Geronimo” OPFOR. The Irish Guards had not worked with the PWRR in this capacity before and so we were keen to prove ourselves. For a few, RATTLESNAKE would be their first opportunity to work alongside their regular counterparts. Pte Henderson for example, returned from Phase 2 training the day before the start of our Live Fire Tactical Training package, the key element of our pre-deployment training.

Following 2 weeks in Aldershot, we deployed to the Joint Readiness Training Centre, Fort Polk, Louisiana. The Battlegroup underwent a period of acclimatisation to prepare for Louisiana’s average temperatures of 30°C. Concurrently the platoons continued low-level training, with emphasis on understanding capabilities of the OPFOR. The exercise itself was separated into two parts, a 12-day blank firing exercise and a live fire phase.

The Battlegroup deployed via a brigade level air assault using a mixture of Blackhawk and Chinook helicopters, with our first task to establish a foot hold on the ground. Soldiers of 3PWRR repeatedly added strength to the Micks (the Irish Guards’ nickname, of which they are very proud) fighting ability. During the defensive phase for instance, LCpl Browning was able to use his experience from serving in 3PWRR’s Anti-Tank Platoon to expertly site fall-back positions for his Company. The weather was a challenge, and unfortunately saw one attack (planned to be a helicopter insertion followed by village assault) called off due to heavy rain and lightning. The live fire phase was a personal highlight, commanding a section of regular colleagues during a company attack is something I had not done previously.

Our final week in the States was spent on R&R initially in Austin, Texas. A well-deserved break and a chance to further bond with the Micks over a beer (or two!). We also visited The Alamo, Museum of the Weird and experienced a Speak Easy. With a few days remaining we were given permission to travel further, spending time in Houston to see the International Space Centre. Our final night was spent in Alexandria, Louisiana.

On reflection our time with the Irish Guards was a great opportunity. The soldiers who participated in Ex RATTLESNAKE have gained knowledge and experience that they can now share with their colleagues in 3PWRR. Personally, I would like to thank the Irish Guards for making us feel so welcome.

Colonel Baynham presenting WO2 Doyle with a Comd 11X Commendation

In 2019, as a Kent MLO in support of Op REDFOLD, Defence’s support to the UK's departure from the EU, he played a pivotal role. For the Government and Defence, Kent was a critical area. His task was to gain an understanding of the complexities of Brexit dynamics ready to convey onwards to the Brigade HQ. By assimilating the right information, he provided timely, high quality briefs, paving the way for decisions to be made by the Commander. This enabled the planning of potential integration of Defence into areas where support was needed. The enormity of this task should not be underestimated.

"His work rate was exceptional. He brought his own unique perspective from his civilian employment in Logistics.”

This, combined with his infectious enthusiasm, boundless energy and proactive work ethic, produced a stream of high-end material which proved to be of critical importance.

He stepped forward again in 2020 for Op RESCRIPT, the military response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Again, Doyle as an MLO, applied himself with both passion and professionalism to ensure the civil authorities were fully supported by Defence.

His dedication to the positive projection of Defence, together with his own commitment in establishing working relationships with the civilian agencies, has been nothing short of outstanding. His desire to cover every aspect, chase down all leads, and monitor the unending flow of meetings, news articles and social media feeds, demonstrated his wholehearted selflessness and commitment to the post. That the Military are held in such high regard by the civil authorities in Kent is, in no small part, due to Doyle’s influence and commitment.

He is the consummate team player, staunchly loyal, utterly reliable, and able to guide those senior to him with skill and diplomacy. He adapts easily to the intricacies of the multi-agency arena and uses his experience wisely. Being held in very high regard in these circles, his views carry disproportionate weight.

For his exceptional contribution to Defence and the civil authorities during Brexit, the EU transition and the Covid-19 pandemic response, Doyle is most deserving of formal recognition for service above and beyond that expected of his rank and position.


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