Today's Army aims to head off trouble, says top brass
The future of British forces in the 21st century was on display in Upavon today in a huge exhibition of hardware and human capabilities.
The exhibition, which has taken two weeks to assemble and is codenamed Exercise Griffin Herald, shows the abilities of the newly formed Force Troops Command, based at Trenchard Lines Army camp across the road from the exhibition site.
Formed last September, Force Troops Command, which combines eight disparate Army brigades, is officially launched on April 1 and by July next year it will have settled into its Army 2020 structure.
Members of the media were able to see a demonstration of how the Vanguard field hospital operates in the 21st century.
In a chillingly realistic demonstration, a soldier who has lost both legs in a roadside bomb attack is brought into the operating theatre, where he is stabilised and given blood and plasma transfusions.
Surgeon Lt Col Ian Gurney said: “The clinical lessons learned in Afghanistan have been embedded in our current practice.
"The clinical care we can deliver in this field hospital is as good, if not better, than that available at a regional trauma centre in the UK.”
Although there was a lot of military hardware on show, not least the monster AS90 155mm gun and the L118 105mm light gun, the Army showed that it is working smarter these days in preventing conflicts before they begin.
In his welcoming address, Major General Tim Radford, commanding officer of Force Troops Command, referred to “upstream” avoidance of conflict.
As was explained on some of the stalls in the exhibition, this involves assisting friendly forces in potential hot spots around the world.
Colonel Matthew Jackson said: “We are seeking to alter the behaviour of adversaries to the advantage of the military by making them do things that are favourable to us by identifying our target audience and sending a message to them.”
The many ways of collecting intelligence on the enemy and sending it back to the troops that would find it useful was also on display.
The Land Intelligence Fusion Centre, based in Bulford, collates information from many different sources and transmits it to the commanders on the ground.
Army units are becoming increasingly dependent on information coming from unmanned aircraft like the tiny Desert Hawk 3, just over a metre in length, and the much larger Watchkeeper, both of which were on show.
Finally, the media met the youngest unit in the Army, the Military Working Dogs unit of the Army Veterinary Corps, which celebrates its fourth birthday this week.
The dogs not only detain suspects in the usual manner but can sniff out explosives in vehicles.