VIDEO: RAF St Mawgan set to host 'largest ground force deployment in Cornwall since WWII'
A CORNISH Air Force base is preparing to host 2,500 NATO personnel - the largest deployment of ground forces in the county since the Second World War.
The Allied Rapid Reaction Corps (ARRC) is setting up its temporary headquarters at RAF St Mawgan ahead of three major training exercises in October and November.
Military planners from 17 nations will take part, running through role play situations and reacting to mock incidents such as helicopter crashes and civilian massacres.
The team, which has operated in Bosnia, Kosovo and Afghanistan, must be mobilised and ready to take strategic control of any NATO-led mission worldwide within 28 days.
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Lt Col Charlie Fraser heads up the ARRC Support Battalion, which oversees infrastructure provision for the ARRC team, including accommodation, food, electricity and water.
He said: “This is the largest exercise of its kind since the HQ moved to the UK in late 2009 early 2010. We are pleased and thankful to have the opportunity to utilise the excellent training facilities here, which we are using to their fullest capacity.
“HQ ARRC is now on stand-by for short notice call-up and subsequent rapid deployment in support of any potential NATO Response Force missions that may develop.”
Work began erecting tents on the site on August 27, and the headquarters is due to be up and running on September 26. Five large-scale generators are required to power the computer servers alone.
RAF St Mawgan top brass have hailed the exercise as a major boost for the base, and for Newquay and its local communities.
Flt Lt Jeff Spencer said: “The deployment should provide a major economic boost to the area. Bringing so many troops, many from abroad, to sample this beautiful county can only add to the number of future visitors.
“This deployment of 2,500 personnel on operational training of the highest level is almost certainly the largest deployment of ground forces to Cornwall, and maybe even the whole south west region, since the Second World War. RAF St Mawgan is back for the long haul and punching well above its weight.”
Wing Commander Philip Lamb, station commander, added: “RAF St Mawgan very much meets the needs of the ARRC battle rhythm. We have the real estate and the ‘can do’ attitude. Plus we are far enough away from the Imjin Barracks in Gloucester, the ARRC’s home, that we provide them valuable training in deployment and setting up a headquarters at an alternate location.”