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The Royal Lancers Spring Newsletter

Two weeks ago, I stood in front of the Regiment on Commanding Officer’s PT and spoke confidently about the forthcoming deployment to BATUS, highlighting the importance of mounted collective training as we prepare the Regiment to be ready to deploy to the Baltic and the Balkans over the course of the next two years. This week, the Regiment has rapidly re-orientated, restructured and retrained to respond to the COVID-19 epidemic. We have conducted important specialist driver and medical training, taken over a new fleet of vehicles and now, in line with advice from Public Health England, have dispersed our squadrons so we remain ready to respond. As I write this update we are unclear on what the next few months will bring, but I have every confidence in your Regiment, who have turned their hand to our new tasks with energy, efficiency, and total professionalism. These challenges will likely dominate 2020 for RL, and I will report fully on them next quarter. For now, I wanted to keep you updated on our activity in the first three months of the year.

Our focus for this quarter has been on preparation for operational deployments, this year and next. Our month-long deployment in Germany saw the Headquarters and Echelon and three squadrons converge in Sennelager – a place very familiar to both serving and Veteran Lancers. Despite the drawdown of British Forces Germany, Sennelager Garrison was alive with a Regular Army unit once more. Our exercise was the first of its kind, and Sennelager will now host one of the Army’s vehicle training fleets, making best use of the training facilities and proximity to wider Army activity in Europe.

Driving in the Combined Arms Tactical Trainer is exactly the same as being a real vehicle (just without the weather!)

Each squadron rotated through a four-week package of live firing, live exercising, and computer-aided simulation, culminating in a Battlegroup-level exercise in the Combined Arms Tactical Trainer (CATT). This was the first time RL Battlegroup had trained together for several years; in this construct it includes a company from 3 RIFLES, as well as our attached artillery and engineer specialists.

The Gunnery package offered an exciting change of scene for a large cohort of Lancers only used to UK ranges, and we were able to make the transition from technical to tactical gunnery. Most importantly it provided the time and resources to build our soldiers’ confidence in their equipment and their training.

By spending more time on our vehicles and linking live and virtual training under a BGHQ deployed under-armour, the team have had the space and time to make mistakes, to learn, and to share and consolidate experiences.

Alongside this training, we also enjoyed the wider experience that Germany offers – with many Lancers being able to get away skiing (of sorts) in Bavaria and enjoying Battlefield studies in Minden and Berlin

Our return from Germany saw our preparations continue, not least as BGHQ deployed on Salisbury Plain alongside the RDG, 5 RIFLES and 1 MERCIAN to undergo a test of our staff planning and command elements. However, it was on this exercise that we were recalled back to Catterick to prepare to assist with the Government response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Aside from military training, we have had a positive sporting period. For the second time in two years, a Lancer has been part of an Atlantic Rowing team; Capt. Alex Walsh, who represents us at The Army Foundation College, Harrogate as Operations Officer, completed the arduous Trans-Atlantic row in 37 days. In parallel, the Regiment conducted a 24 hr charity row to raise some extra money – as we did in Cyprus two years ago.

Credit: Atlantic Campaigns

5 Lancers have represented RAC rugby this season, with 4 players and 1 coach in their tense 31-30 cup final victory against The Army Medical Corps.

It has also been a hugely successful year for our Winter Sports Teams as we were one of two RAC Regiments to reach the Army Championships for both Alpine and Nordic Skiing. The Nordic Team struck gold with LCpl Fletcher being crowned the Under-21 Champion and earning a place in the Army Development Squad. Our downhill skiers also proved they were equal to their Nordic counterparts – with the team finishing 8th in the entire Army. In the individual competition, Capt. Will Cave finished the season as the Army's 8th best skier. Away from the slopes, we can now boast of an Inter-Services Champion as Capt. Rob Gardner stormed to 1st place in his first ever meet for the Army Orienteering Team.

More broadly, life has continued in Catterick. We were proud to be able to award three SSgts their Warrants and four Sgts received a Crown to add to their chevrons. We have welcomed seven veteran Lancers back into our ranks, as well as seven soldiers from across the Army who have transferred across to wear the Motto. I am not sure how much the RSO’s provocative video actually helped – even if it has been one of our most commented on social media posts! I was also very grateful for the update on how many press ups you could all manage…

For now though, our focus is on keeping the team safe and providing the very best support to the efforts to counter the pandemic. Communications will remain vitally important, making sure we are all well-informed, and signposting where people might need help. I am acutely aware that whilst there are some 470 Lancers and 110 families in Catterick, there are many more of us spread across the country and beyond. If the serving Regiment, the Unit Welfare Team or Home Headquarters can be of assistance in these difficult times then please do get in touch.

We are very grateful for your continuing support, and are hopeful that we will soon be able to contribute to the national efforts to lessen the impact of COVID-19.

The Commanding Officer