PICTURES: A military exercise has begun on the Isle of Wight today (Tuesday) with up to 180 reservist personnel from The Honourable Artillery Company (HAC), the City of London’s Army Reserve regiment, taking part in Exercise Vambrace Horizon.
For the next 9 days Islanders will see heightened activity on the Island from the British Army broadly in the West and South Wight areas. All activity will take place on private land with the permission and support of landowners.
The exercise has been organised to improve core skills, command and control, how the regiment integrate with aviation and maritime partners and to test their communications capability, as well as how they maintain complex supply chains.
At around 17:00 this evening locals were treated to a rare glimpse of the US Air Force V-22 Osprey plane, which flew over the Island before landing at Jersey Camp – the base for the exercise. Islanders will also see a variety of vehicles over the coming days with some 40 vehicles involved in Vambrace Horizon.
Gun fire and explosions will not form part of the exercise, although troops will be carrying rifles and blank ammunition for weapons handling, maintenance and safety training. Members of the public should not be alarmed.
The HAC is a dedicated surveillance and target acquisition (STA) regiment with a role of
identifying and tracking enemy activity. It is a highly specialised role and the exercise is designed to test and improve this capability.
The Isle of Wight offers a unique training opportunity for the regiment by providing a challenging and unfamiliar environment compared to the remote military training areas normally used. The exercise has been in the planning since February.
HAC Senior Major Johnny Longbottom MBE said:
“It’s not often that the regiment has the opportunity to train its soldiers away from the mainland and we are grateful to be extended this privilege. We look forward to a challenging and productive exercise on the Isle of Wight.”
Troops and vehicles arrived on the Island overnight and throughout today with several coming into Yarmouth Harbour on a mexifloat. The British Army will leave on Wednesday 9th September via Yarmouth Harbour.
Whilst on the Island the regiment will undertake two wreath laying ceremonies. One will take place on Saturday at a statue dedicated to the memory of Gunner John Cawte (KIA 27th June 1944) at All Saints Church in Godshill and another at Shanklin Cemetery in memory of Captain Leonard Price, who died 21st November 1920. Both were members of the HAC. The wreathes will be laid by Senior Major Johnny Longbottom MBE and the Last Post played.