A RAF led Tactical Air Control Party has deployed to Operation Cabrit with the 1 Mercian Battlegroup. The British Army Battlegroup is integrated into the 1st Estonian Brigade as part of the NATO enhanced Forward Presence mission.
On Operation Cabrit, the Tactical Air Control Party (TACP) deploys Joint Terminal Attack Controllers together with signallers, as part of a Fire Support Team that direct and control air support for the Battlegroup. The TACP is from C Battery 3 Royal Horse Artillery (RHA) and is commanded by Flight Lieutenant John Ennals from the RAF Regiment. It is made up of personnel drawn from the RAF Regiment, Royal Dragoon Guards and RHA personnel and is based at Tapa Camp, Estonia.
“On Operation Cabrit we have been exercising our role of co-ordinating and delivering air support in close proximity of friendly forces. We have exercised so far with Italian and German Typhoon, and Italian F35 As all of which are conducting the NATO Baltic Air Policing mission. We have also been supported by the Estonian Air Force equipped Robinson R44 helicopter training squadron that is fitted with a down link capability and can act as an Apache attack helicopter.”
Flight Lieutenant Ennals
During the deployment the TACP has taken part in several exercises that have been designed to integrate the various nations forces and develop the ability to work together successfully. The first exercise was Exercise Bold Monsoon, which was a 1st Estonian Brigade led exercise at Tapa camp and provided the first opportunity for all NATO forces to work together in a theoretical exercise.
This was followed by Exercise Bold Eagle which saw the JTACs embed with the various Companies and Squadrons they have been assigned to for the first time and therefore put theory into practice, supported by the German, Italian and Estonian air assets. A highlight of the exercise programme so far has been the opportunity to join the USAF Exercise Agile Liberty, which gave the JTACs the opportunity to meet their US counter parts, and work with US F15s.
"The TACP and the JTACs are a battle-winning asset and the opportunities for JTACs on Operation Cabrit are fantastic with multiple air sorties a day, as various NATO and multinational allies all require to maintain their competencies and skills, this provides a great training environment for our team to exploit. Here the JTACs are in a tactically challenging role working under armour which presents them with an added layer of complexity, but one which they are adapting tactics, techniques and procedures for and delivering for the ground commanders.”
C Battery 3 RHA Commander
Operation Cabrit is the UK operational name for the enduring British deployment to Estonia where the UK is the lead nation and principle contributor to a NATO multinational battlegroup that forms part of the NATO enhanced Forward Presence mission.
The enhanced Forward Presence mission was first announced at the NATO summit that was held in Warsaw in 2014 and is designed to enhance Euro-Atlantic security, reassure NATO Allies and deter NATO adversaries. The NATO eFP mission in the Baltic States is therefore a deployment of robust, multinational, combat-ready forces to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, on a persistent, rotational basis.