Exercise Cerberus 22: demonstrating the Warfighting Division is ready to deploy
The biannual exercise Cerberus 22 is taking place in Germany this year. It is the largest British Army Field exercise of the year and the largest to take place in central Europe for more than a decade.
Ex Cerberus will test and validate the five Brigade Headquarters of the UK’s Warfighting Division. The Brigades are 16 Air Assault Brigade Combat Team and the 1st Aviation Brigade Combat Team, who are both part of the Army’s Global Response Force; 12 Armoured Brigade Combat Team, 7th Light Mechanised Brigade Combat Team and 101 Operational Sustainment Brigade. In addition, a U.S. Armoured Brigade Combat Battle Team (ABCT) will join the exercise acting as the sixth Brigade under the command of the Division.
Cerberus is a British lead, but also includes the participation of five other NATO members: Denmark, France, Germany, Canada and the USA, providing another opportunity to fully integrate with our NATO partners.
We are consistently looking at ways to test our ability to be ready. Ready to secure the United Kingdom and ready to work with our allies and partners in the defence of our values and our security.
Major General James Martin is the General Officer Commanding 3rd United Kingdom Division, he explains:
“We are consistently looking at ways to test our ability to be ready. Ready to secure the United Kingdom and ready to work with our allies and partners in the defence of our values and our security.”
And he adds:
“Exercise Cerberus is about making sure our Brigades are fit to deploy on operations all the way from peacekeeping at one end to warfighting and high intensity operations at the other. Hopefully this exercise will provide reassurance to both the British people and our allies and NATO partners.”
Thousands of troops and hundreds of vehicles deployed by land, sea and air at speed to the NATO Forward Holding Base Sennelager (NFS) where, over several weeks these Brigade Headquarters would be put to the sternest of tests on this large-scale Command Post exercise.
Staging the exercise in Europe further tests and demonstrates the British Army’s ability to respond to any unfolding crisis in a timely manner and shows our commitment to NATO and the wider security of Europe.
This is the time where we really show that we can plan and execute concurrently at speed and relevance.
7th Light Mechanised Brigade Combat Team (LMBCT) are one of the Brigades being validated during the exercise. Their battlegroups are formed around the Foxhound and Jackal vehicles which gives them tactical, strategic and operational mobility as well as infantry fighting mass.
Major Seb Joyce, SO2 G5 Plans, 7 LMBCT, talks us through the process:
“Throughout this exercise we are expecting to receive several sets of orders from the Divisional Headquarters which will then trigger planning cycles to turn them into actionable orders for our battlegroups to implement. The battlegroups will then go through their own planning cycle and complete them in a simulated environment.”
And observes Major Joyce:
“This exercise has provided us with a good opportunity to interact with the other Brigade Combat Teams, to better understand where our capabilities complement one another and how we can work together going forward.”
“This is a testing time for all of us” he adds “It really puts the staff under pressure. This is the time where we really show that we can plan and execute concurrently at speed and relevance, it is a good time to bring the full team together and execute in a simulated environment.”
Also being validated for readiness is 12 Armoured Brigade Combat Team (12ABCT).
Captain George Lynch-Staunton, Kings Royal Hussars attached to 12ABCT explains:
“We are here in Germany being validated to assume readiness for the next two years to be the most deployable and ready Armoured Combat Team in the British Army as part of 3rd United Kingdom Division.”
We are constantly being tested and rightly so, because the responsibility for holding that high readiness mantle is so important.
He adds: “With that comes a great deal of pressure to make sure that we are the best we can be.
That pressure is the same as a Lance Corporal would feel when going on the Army Leadership Development Programme or a Corporal taking a Crew Commanders course or when a battlegroup is undertaking combat-ready training. We are constantly being tested and rightly so because the responsibility for holding that high readiness mantle is so important.”
Signaller Adam McMillan from 214 Squadron, 2 Signal Regiment has also been taking part in the exercise, spending much of his time in the forests of the Sennelagaer Training Area:
“As a signaller I’m one of the team that sets up the Headquarters communications systems which is essential for personnel to be able to receive and send information regarding Cerberus. I install and maintain the kit and am on call to sort any issues that the Headquarters might encounter with it.
“When we’re out in the field and in remote areas, it’s one of the most important roles. if the kit doesn’t work then the Headquarters can’t operate, and that could mean game over!”
This is Adam’s first big exercise overseas and one that he is relishing: “Being here in Germany and part of such a big Exercise is very exciting” he says, “I’m part of a big team that works very closely together and it’s very rewarding knowing you are an important part of that team.”
Major General Martin concludes that the success of Cerberus 22 will be a green light of validation for those taking part. But will also and very importantly, count towards fulfilling another very important goal: “I think this exercise is on the critical path to achieving the Chief of the General Staff’s OP MOBILISE ambition for 2024. Ultimately, he wants us to demonstrate the readiness at Divisional level and below to take on any operation.”