Stephen has completed a three-day training exercise with British Army troops in Canada – where he caught up with a Penarth soldier who has just moved out to serve in Alberta.
Captain Gareth Dibble (Royal Artillery) has recently moved with his wife to Canada to serve at BATUS – the British Army Training Unit Suffield – where thousands of British soldiers are trained each year.
Stephen said: “This was a fantastic opportunity to see our troops on active training, and to spend time learning about the work done at BATUS. It was great to meet Gareth from Penarth, and to hear about the large-scale training exercises undertaken on the prairie.
“Our armed forces are doing fantastic work at home and abroad, and I’m proud to have been able to join them in Canada.”
BATUS is situated on one of the most sparsely populated areas of the Alberta plain. The training area is equivalent in size to the combined area all of the main training areas used by the British Army in the UK and Europe, and is equipped with more than 1000 vehicles – including a full complement of Challenger 2 tanks and Warrior Infantry Fighting Vehicles.
Five battlegroups, each containing around 1400 soldiers, are trained at BATUS each year – with one Regiment sent there for six months to take the part of the ‘enemy’ in training exercises.
The cross-party trip was part of Stephen’s commitment with the Armed Forces Parliamentary Scheme, which gives Members of both the Commons and the Lords the opportunity of learning first-hand about the work of our Armed Forces, and the challenges facing them at home and on operations overseas. He has also visited British Forces Cyprus, and joined the Royal Marines Commandos for cold-weather training in Norway.
Stephen, who is also vice-chair (Army) of the All Party Parliamentary Group for the Armed Forces, said: “I think it is crucial that more MPs spend time understanding the work of our Armed Forces and the challenges they face. We send them on operations and owe them our support on their return.”