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TA joins forces with Italian army
Territorial Army soldiers from Keighley district were among the first to deploy to Italy on a training exercise with Italian forces.
The manoeuvres were designed to prepare them for the changing nature of future conflicts, as the army looks to begin pulling out of Afghanistan.
One of the troops taking part in the deployment was Silsden TA soldier Private Jason Shaw.
Pte Shaw, 25, works for Silsden-based company Snug Pak in his civilian life and passed out of basic training to join the reserves two months ago.
He said: “I wanted to do something different and good with my life. The TA gives me the opportunity to go on tour and get about, and come to nice countries like Italy as well as meet new people.
“This is a fantastic experience learning lots of new things. You do see patterns start to emerge, so it’s not that hard and the weapons are fairly easy to get the hang of.
“It’s all good experience as I would like to deploy with the regulars to Afghanistan. I know it seems dangerous but there is still a lot of good work being done out there and a lot of lads from Keighley and the battalion have already gone and I would like to be a part of it.”
He added that he had originally volunteered for a three-month commitment providing security for the Olympics, but hadn’t finished training in time, so was offered a space on the exercise.
“I wanted to go to the Olympics, but this is more fun – coming to Italy and doing training like this,” he said.
His training included how to prepare for and launch an attack on a building occupied by enemy forces, with the air support provided by the Italian military.
Pte Shaw and his colleagues also learned how to combine conventional warfare and close quarter combat with modern assault techniques, some of which have been developed during operations in Afghanistan.
The manoeuvres with the Italian Army, known as ‘Exercise Roman Star’, were completed last Thursday. They followed last month’s Government announcement on troop reductions and the need for a greater reliance on reserve soldiers integrating with the regular army.
An army spokesman explained the Italy training formed the first of a series of overseas exercises for the reserves, who will need to increase their numbers to meet the demands of the army’s planned new structure for the year 2020.