The new Heavy Weapons Company of 11 Airmobile Brigade is proving its ability to operate in hostile circumstances in populated areas during the two-week exercise Praetorian Fight. The exercise, which takes place this week and next week, forms the conclusion of a year in which the red berets have mastered the skills of operating with their new heavily armed vehicles.
On the basis of experience gained during peace missions, the transformation of 11 Staff Antitank Company to a Heavy Weapons Company was begun in 2010. Missions such as the one in Afghanistan have shown that there is a need for independently operating units with more firepower and greater mobility.
For the pilot project, which started last year, the light Airmobile Special Vehicle (LSV) was replaced by Mercedes Benz off-road vehicles, which were adapted ambulances. The three-man crews, equipped with a heavy .50 machine gun, two light machine guns and GILL antitank missiles, allow for more offensive and independent operations.
For Delta Company of 11 Infantry Battalion Grenadier and Rifle Guards, Praetorian Fight is the conclusion of a year in which the new way of operating and the new materiel have been put to the test extensively. The exercise is mainly taking place in populated areas in the provinces of Noord-Brabant and Limburg.
The challenge during Praetorian Fight lies mainly in the cooperation with supporting units. For instance, the company will have to call in fire support from 11 Mortar Company and from Apache helicopters. Factors such as operating outside the military exercise areas and having to take the population into account also add an extra dimension to the exercise.
Earlier exercises focused on the cooperation between the three crew members of the vehicles and on operating in small teams. The old LSV vehicles only had room for two crew members and this required a different manner of operating.
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