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24 Oct 2022

Exercise Cerberus 22 - British Army's largest European exercise in a decade

Exercise Cerberus 22 - British Army's largest European exercise in a decade
Crown Copyright 2022
Originally posted on British Army News

Ex Cerberus 22 is the British Army’s largest field exercise of 2022 with nearly 3500 troops and up to 800 vehicles involved. It is also the Army’s largest exercise on the continent for over a decade. 

The large-scale command post exercise, Ex Cerberus 22 is taking place in Germany aimed at confirming that the five British Army brigade headquarters that sit within the division are ready for operations. It sees the exercise, previously held in the UK on Salisbury Plain Training Area, move to its new central European location to test its ability move personnel and equipment on a large scale and to operate in an expeditionary setting rather than being close to home.

Colonel Owain Luke, Chief of Staff, Headquarters 3rd United Kingdom Division (3 (UK) Div) who are running the exercise said: “We have deployed here to Germany to use the Land Regional Hub at Sennelager, which has also acted as a real test of our ability to deploy forces to the continent at speed." 

3 (UK) Div is the United Kingdom’s fighting Division and as such can bring to bear the considerable firepower and concentrate the force, which includes: reconnaissance, armoured cavalry; armoured and mechanised infantry, aviation, artillery, engineers, and logistics; in what is referred to as ‘the full spectrum’ of warfighting capability. 

Concentrating on continual combat readiness, 3 (UK) Div stands by to protect the UK, its people and project influence as a world class Army.  

“In addition to British brigades on the exercise,” says Colonel Luke, “we are also joined by the 3rd Brigade Combat Team from the American 1st Cavalry Division. This exercise is also about building our interoperability with U.S. Forces as well as aligning with NATO procedures and working under Headquarters Allied Rapid Reaction Corps.”

Colonel Luke adds: “The main objective of Cerberus 22 is to test, validate and support readiness of the five brigade headquarters: 16 Air Assault Brigade Combat Team, 12 Armoured Brigade Combat Team, 7th Light Mechanised Brigade Combat Team, 101 Operational Sustainment Brigade, and 1st Aviation Brigade Combat Team. Each headquarters will be assessed as being ready for operations by testing their ability to plan and execute operations within a simulated warfighting scenario set in Europe.” 

Some of the equipment being used is already based in Germany which allows us to provide a more rapid response which further highlighting the importance of Sennelager and surrounding hubs. 

“The NATO Forward Holding Base Sennelager is essential,” continues Colonel Luke. “It is one of the Army’s land regional hubs that are around the world. Sennelager is the European land regional hub and it provides a training location on the continent, a site to store vehicles and an opportunity to stage forward for operations anywhere on the continent if required.” 

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Getting to Germany for the exercise was quite a task and involved movement by land, sea and air. The division flew to Celle in Germany by RAF A400 aircraft and then onwards to Sennelager by German CH53 Sikorsky heavy lift helicopters while its vehicles and equipment moved by sea.

Squadron Leader Gordon Summers is the RAF’s representative inside 3 (UK) Div as such responsible for the tactical insert by air of troops and equipment from the UK to Germany. He said: “Being able to operate between the Services and with our allies and partners is key for the successful movement of personnel and their equipment. We used this exercise as a training opportunity for both the RAF at Brize Norton and German Military (Bundeswehr). Troops and kit were flown by RAF A400M to the Air Manoeuvre Training and Exercise Centre in Celle, Northern Germany and then our German partners transferred people and cargo onwards to Sennelager by German CH53 heavy lift helicopters.” 

The Brigades are being tested in a realistic scenario against a peer adversary with the divisional headquarters in overall command. Above them, the British led NATO Allied Rapid Reaction Corps (ARRC) will provide overall NATO command and control over the exercise emphasising the importance of the NATO alliance and demonstrating the true scale of the deployment.

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