PARATROOPERS from Colchester have been away on exercise training to become part of the nation’s rapid reaction force.

It will soon be the 2nd Battalion, The Parachute Regiment’s turn to be on call should troops be needed at short notice anywhere in the world.

Soldiers from 2 Para spent a week in Wales as part of Exercise Bruneval Assault to practice infantry skills including firing, manoueveres and mountain drills.

They were joined by reservists from 4 Para.

Major Mark Swann, C Company Commander, said: “Coming to Brecon gave us a chance to test what we’ve learnt.

“It’s all very well being able to shoot accurately and efficiently on a static range, but the real test is to see how soldiers perform when they’re cold, wet and tired.

“We’re also continuing to move on from Afghanistan as we prepare for contingency operations.

“We are working back towards the classic paratrooper mentality of our soldiers being able to live out in the field and carry everything they need to operate on their back.”

He added: “Every section had a couple of 4 Para soldiers attached.

“The standard of the reservists’ training is fantastic.”

The Army is cutting its regular troops and in the future will be relying more on the reserves, previously known as the Territorial Army.

2 Para and 3 Para alternate as the nation’s Air Assault Task Force which has to be ready to deploy at short notice.

2 Para will take over the role in March and the exercise was designed to help get them ready.

They will be supported, should emergency situations arise, by the artillery, engineers, signallers, medics and logisticians from 16 Air Assault Brigade, all based at Merville Barracks in Colchester.