TIW Visit the Defence Capability Centre

In true Army fashion Major Walker, the Wing Ground Liaison Officer, had us up before dawn for what was a long drive down to the Defence Academy at Shrivenham, where he had arranged for us to visit the Defence Capability Centre, which, houses perhaps the best collection of armour, artillery and other weaponry in use with not just UK forces but with our other major competitor countries.

The purpose of the visit was to enable us to get a close view of some of the equipment we had been looking at in images recently collected in theatre but also to get a better understanding of the development and capabilities of that equipment. In addition it had been arranged for us to be briefed in the Command and Control Battle Lab on the Air C2 application known as Integrated Command and Control or ICC.

The equipment held by the DCC is extensive and not only were we able to review the recognition features that we are trained in but also to climb about the various vehicles to gain at least a small appreciation of what it would be like for the crews manning the equipment.

One thing that was apparent with almost all of the kit on display was the lack of space, not to mention comfort. The fact the Bulldog armoured personnel carrier, which carries eight fully equipment infantrymen in addition to the Commander and driver, was equipped with a boiling vessel (BV) in which you could heat up your food, did not seem to count for much when you were closed in tighter than the proverbial sardines in a can and that was without webbing, body armour and all the other paraphernalia that the modern infantryman is equipped with.

We were given a very comprehensive brief on artillery weapons both field and air defence and tried our hands at carrying on our shoulders the shell from an AS90 (96lbs dead weight).

Our visit finished in the Battle Lab with a very detailed brief on Integrated Command and Control so having had our chance at playing with real heavy weapons we were back to the more familiar setting of the computer screen.

A great deal of discussion took place on the merits of the various equipments and all in all it had been a very interesting visit, giving us the chance to see, at close quarters, equipment which, until now, we had only ever seen on imagery. However, I think we were all in agreement that the jobs we have are the best there are, which nothing we had seen would persuade us to change!