COLCHESTER soldiers have been preparing for emergency deployment alongside their US Army counterparts.

Troops from the Colchester-based B Company, 3 Para have been taking part in a training exercise with the 1st Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, nicknamed the Red Falcons.

Both sets of troops are each country’s highly skilled, rapid deployment forces.

The month-long training has been based at Fort Bragg, in North Carolina, and it is focused on helping the two forces work together in the field and become familiar with each other’s weapons and tactics.

Maj Haydn Gaukroger, B Company 3 Para commanding officer, said it is “absolutely critical” to build links to international allies.

He added: “I’ve been in the army for 14 years and never been on an independent operation.

“Unilateral action is not really the way of the future and it certainly hasn’t been the way of the immediate past either.

“I think the main thing for our paratroopers to take back from this exercise is that they have their brothers here in the 82nd Airborne Division.

“We’ve had pretty much the same history all the way from the Second World War and have very similar role, capabilities and techniques.

“The soldiers have been taken aback by how similar it is being with the Red Falcons here as it is being within 3 Para.”

A week-long field exercise saw the forces parachuted into a fictional country threatened by a neighbour and facing internal disorder.

The troops were tasked to carry out a non-combat evacuation to extract British and American citizens.

As the security situation worsened, the exercise ended in the troops carrying out a helicopter-borne attack on an insurgent base.

Lt Col Kenneth Burgess, commanding officer of the US force, said: “It’s really been a unique and phenomenal experience.

“The day-to-day, bringing them in as part of our team, and operating on the ground, has been seamless.”