A New and Unique Partnership Between Two Infantry Battalions of the Reserve

3rd Battalion

“Reporting for duty in the brotherhood of infantry soldiers, sir” it echoes loudly through the night near the obstacle course of the Bergen-Lohheide training area in northern Germany. Four new brothers in arms receive their infantry badges from the 2IC of Unterstützungsbataillon Einsatz 1 (Ops Support Battalion of 1 PzDiv), a reserve infantry unit stationed in Oldenburg with the German 1st Armoured Division.

Who cares and why would this appear here, you may ask. The answer is the 3rd Battalion Royal Anglian Regiment and the tongue-breaking Unterstützungsbataillon Einsatz 1 (One 1 for short), a German infantry battalion of the reserve have recently formed a partnership that is unique in NATO and either of the partner countries.

One 1 is young. The battalion was set up (only on paper initially) in the Autumn of 2014. After staff of the German 1st Armoured Division moved to Oldenburg in northern Germany, the actual staffing and planning of training and exercises began in Autumn 2017. Lieutenant Colonel Wolfermann took command at the end of 2017 and started almost from scratch.

Soldiers had to be found first. So former soldiers of the division were contacted, word of mouth was spread and information events were held. The first small exercise with 14 soldiers took place in Oldenburg in March 2018, followed by a larger one in autumn 2018. Since then, things have been growing steadily with larger-scale exercises in 2022, which is also when the British/German partnership started.

One 1’s main tasks are operational support of the German 1st Armoured Division as well as protection of the divisional HQ once it goes operational on exercise or in combat. For this, One 1 needs well-trained infantrymen and women and this is where the parallels to 3 Royal Anglian start. One 1 has since its foundation trained many of its own infantrymen in a modular course designed for reservists. This is the very short story of the now very active reserve battalion. Behind it all lurks a lot of effort, sweat and tears (in a purposeful nod to Churchill).

“We are very proud to have established this partnership with 3 Royal Anglian”, says Lt Col Wolfermann, “and it is no coincidence that we are partnering with the British as there are a lot of parallels as well as mutual respect between our armies”. Ensign Dr. Hammer, the partnership’s instigator and now its German LO adds “we have a common basis of commitment and professionalism. But there are also a lot of differences, which we view as opportunities to learn from each other and improve. For example, 3 Royal Anglian has much more recent and ancient history, is busier and better established and has a much larger core of regular soldiers to support its operation. We are not there yet, but having an older brother like this certainly helps us on our way”.

By the time of writing, reciprocal CO + staff visits had happened in 2022, three British soldiers attended a training weekend in Germany in March 2023, and the 2IC and a small contingent of German soldiers took part in Gib Study and the Regimental Dinner in July 2023. “That was a unique experience for our soldiers,” says LtCol Wolferman, “and we look forward to returning the favour and developing more joint training and exercise activities together”.

Unterstützungsbataillon Einsatz 1 Webpage


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