Ripon sapper flies out for US exercise

Former Outwood Academy Ripon student Spr Jayson Barton, of 23 Engineer Regiment (Air Assault).
Former Outwood Academy Ripon student Spr Jayson Barton, of 23 Engineer Regiment (Air Assault).

An airborne engineer from Ripon is on an eight-week-long exercise in the United States, flying out just two days after completing training and joining his unit.

Sapper Jayson Barton, of 23 Engineer Regiment (Air Assault), is one of nearly 1,000 British soldiers from 16 Air Assault Brigade on the Combined Joint Operational Access Exercise (CJOAX) alongside troops from the American 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division.

The 19-year-old, who went to Outwood Academy Ripon, said: “I’ve really been thrown in at the deep end but it’s a great opportunity to learn both how my own unit works and how the Americans operate.

“We’re working hard to really develop an understanding about each other’s role and capabilities. It’s very friendly – they have a similar role, history and culture to us so it’s easy to get along.”

Spr Barton has been working alongside American paratroopers from 37th Brigade Engineer Battalion, known as the Green Falcons, to learn about their equipment and tactics. The training culminates in a simulated mission in which 1,900 British and American troops will parachute into a troubled region and work side-by-side to help bring stability.

The purpose of the exercise at Fort Bragg in North Carolina is to develop the ability of the two units, which both serve as their respective armies’ rapid reaction forces, to deploy as a joint force in response to international crises.

Spr Barton said: “I will be out working with one of the rifle companies during the final mission and I’m looking forward to getting out on the ground and showing people what I can do.”

The core role of 23 Engineer Regiment (Air Assault), based at Woodbridge in Suffolk, is to provide close combat engineering support to 16 Air Assault Brigade, the British Army’s rapid reaction force.

The unit’s sappers are trained and equipped to deploy by parachute and helicopter to enable the brigade to fight, move and live. 16 Air Assault Brigade is the British Army’s largest brigade with some 6,200 soldiers, combining the speed and agility of airborne and air assault troops with the potency of Apache attack helicopters.