A Lancaster soldier has spent 11 days in sweltering African heat helping to train Ugandan troops to run peacekeeping operations.
Colour Sergeant Gareth Cumpsty was part of a 30-strong team led by Reservists of the 4th Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment (4 YORKS).
He 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 peacekeeping operations.
Gareth, 31, serves with the 1st Battalion The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment, but travelled to Uganda in support of 4 YORKS to help with the training. It was his job to test how the Ugandans clear insurgents from villages. He said: “It has been enjoyable. I had some misconceptions before coming here. But the Ugandan soldiers had six weeks of US and ACOTA (African Contingency Operations Training and Assistance) training before we got here and so they have a good understanding.”
Based at UPDF Peace Support Training School at Singo in the south of the country Gareth was part of a British Army team which 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.
The 4 YORKS led team also included Medics, training officers, Military Police and support staff, most of whom have civilian jobs .
Gareth, who has been in the Army for 11 years, added: “I enjoy the variety of the work and I have served all over the world; Iraq, Ireland, Afghanistan, Germany, Switzerland and Austria among others. My fiancée Leighan is really supportive .”
The training team in Uganda is being supported by a handful of Regular soldiers – a complete reversal of recent times when Army Reservists were used to supplement Regular units. It is a shift towards developing self-contained Reserve units capable of performing military tasks, such as training partner forces, independently.