A Denholme lorry driver has been enjoying a winter break with a difference – helping to train Ugandan soldiers in East Africa.
Army reservist Sergeant David Midgley has spent 11 days in temperatures of up to 32°C testing the Ugandan People’s Defence Force (UPDF) before it crosses into Somalia to run peace-keeping operations.
The Platoon Sergeant, responsible for 17 men, has been assessing the Ugandans’ ability to work in built-up areas and clear out enemy forces safely.
But he was able to get back to Denholme in time for Christmas to be re-united with his partner Joanne, who is also an army reservist.
Based at a Peace Support Training School at Singo in the south of the country, the 44-year-old has been part of a British Army team that helped to school a 1,900-strong Ugandan Battlegroup in a range of counter-insurgency techniques before setting the soldiers their final exam – an intensive, three-day exercise designed to test their new skills to the limit.
Mr Midgley joined the reservists in 1990 after his brother-in-law asked him to go along to a training night, and has so far toured Iraq, the US, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany and Canada.
He said: “I do it because it’s completely different to civilian life – I get opportunities to come to places like Uganda, opportunities others would not get unless they paid for the trip. But it’s been hot and hard work at times.”
The 4 YORKS-led team not only included frontline soldiers but also medics, training officers, military police and support staff, most of whom have civilian jobs but give up their spare time to train and serve as army soldiers.
Colonel William Beinomugisha, the commander of UGABG 13 – the UPDF Battlegroup – said: “Everything has gone well, the training is in place and we have enjoyed it. I can say as commander of the Battlegroup that our forces are able and ready to go to their mission.”
Army reservists are now being developed to perform more military tasks – such as training partner forces – independently. The aim is that by 2020, reservists will be routinely deployed as part of all military operations.