Soldiers from the Activation Task Force have been in Germany readying vehicles for exercise deployment.

They have completed a full maintenance inspection of armoured fighting vehicles, including Challenger 2 and Warrior infantry fighting vehicles. The vehicles are to be deployed to Poland on Exercise Black Eagle, a NATO assurance exercise. The aim of Exercise Black Eagle is to reassure and support allies in Eastern Europe and will involve approximately 1300 personnel.

The Activation Task Force is commanded by 1 Close Support Battalion (1CS Bn) REME, with support provided from 28 different units from across the UK and Germany. They worked tirelessly and often working long hours to ensure the armoured vehicles were meticulously checked, maintenance requirements recorded and repairs completed. 

“The inspection phase of the task was quite intensive, identifying and logging faults and repairs, but everyone has worked really hard and accomplished what we needed to do,” Lance Corporal Aaron Garner, from 1CS Bn, said. “It has been an interesting task and an enjoyable experience particularly considering the importance of the exercise.”

For Trooper Nathan Hayward, a tank crewman from the Queen’s Royal Hussars in Germany, being part of the Activation Task Force provided him with an opportunity to work on the vehicles in a way that he had not previously experienced: “It has been pretty intensive and more challenging that my conventional work, especially from a physical perspective given the number of vehicles we have had to work on. We have had to work at a higher tempo than normal to get repairs completed whilst still making sure the quality of work meets the high standards required – it has been a very interesting and personally rewarding task.”

With the two months of hard work successfully concluded the armoured vehicles have been handed over to the Battlegroup to complete the move to the Exercise area.

Afghan turmoil threatens NATO’s ‘mission accomplished’ plans | ADRIAN CROFT AND MIRWAIS HAROONI

(Reuters) - NATO will declare “mission accomplished” this week as it winds down more than a decade of operations in Afghanistan but departing combat troops look likely to leave behind political turmoil and an emboldened insurgency.

The embattled country is also suffering a sharp economic slowdown.

NATO had hoped its summit in Wales on Thursday and Friday would herald a smooth handover of security at the end of this year from the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) to Afghan forces. It then plans to cut back its role to a smaller mission to train and advise Afghan troops.

The 28-nation alliance had also hoped to celebrate Afghanistan’s first democratic transfer of power by inviting a new president to share the spotlight with U.S. President Barack Obama and the other 27 allied leaders.

Instead, NATO diplomats privately admit that the backdrop to the summit is the “worst case scenario”.


Photo: U.S. Navy Photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist (SW) Jeremy L. Wood via Chuck Holton/flickr