Bassingbourn Barracks: New chapter for Army’s flagship operational training centre
- Credit: Army Press Office
Bassingbourn Barracks is now the established home of the British Army’s flagship training facility for personnel deploying on operations across the world.
The state-of-the art Mission Ready Training Centre - based at the barracks, off the A1198 - prepares both units and individual personnel for operations.
MRTC combines the Mission Training and Mobilisation Centre previously based at Shorncliffe Barracks in Folkestone with the Mission Training and Mobilisation Centre (Individual) previously based at Chetwynd Barracks in Nottingham.
MRTC’s role is to ensure that deploying personnel are fully trained to meet the many challenges they may face on operations worldwide.
Units undertake a series of training activities that end with a formal validation event known as a Mission Rehearsal Exercise (MRX).
This highly demanding exercise sees personnel face a range of scenarios they may encounter during their operational tour. They must respond appropriately, overseen by MRTC’s experienced Observer-Mentors who provide feedback, advice and coaching.
MRTC recently prepared the 2nd Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment for its deployment to Mali on Operation NEWCOMBE.
During the MRX, soldiers practised scenarios that included vehicle patrols, speaking with the local population, treating casualties, and dealing with suspected Improvised Explosive Devices - IEDs.
MRTC is also responsible for training individual army personnel deploying to defence roles around the world. Personnel attending the MRTC’s five-week modular individual pre-deployment training course range from private soldiers to general officers.
The combined individual and collective training throughput exceeds 12,000 personnel every year.
During this same period, MRTC has also mobilised and trained over 2,000 Army Reservists, both to support overseas operations and also the UK’s COVID-19 response through Operation RESCRIPT.
Commander MRTC, Colonel Neil Unsworth, said: ‘’MRTC brings together all of our subject matter experts at a single, freshly refurbished location, to deliver world class training.’’
“Supported by hundreds of contracted role-players and using the latest simulation and data collection technology, our exercises deliver the most challenging and realistic pre-deployment training anywhere in the world.’’
“Bassingbourn is a fantastic location and the re-opening of the barracks has been warmly welcomed by the local community.”
An infrastructure investment of £30 million at the Barracks has seen a combination of new builds, such as a 600 seat state-of-the art auditorium, and the refurbishment of existing accommodation and office space to 21st century standards.
This investment forms part of MOD’s continuing optimisation of the Defence estate by co-locating capability and enabling the disposal of sites that are no longer needed.
Bassingbourn Barracks is steeped in military history. Originally RAF base, in 1942, the United States Army Air Force’s 91st Bomb Group moved to Bassingbourn and it was from there that the crew of perhaps the famous B-17 aircraft, ‘The Memphis Belle’, flew their 25 combat missions.
The barracks were established in January 1970, as the new Depot for the Queen's Division The depot was responsible for training recruits undergoing their 19-week basic training before joining a regular battalion. In 1993, the barracks were re-designated the home of the Army Training Regiment.
Bassingbourn Barracks closed as an army training location in August 2012, and troops were back by 2019 - much to the delight of the community.
The announcement that Bassingbourn would once again be an active base for the Armed Forces was announced in 2016. At the time a villager said: "“The barracks reopening gives me personally a lot of comfort.
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“Knowing that there are troops here in Bassingbourn with an airstrip that could take them to London, the Midlands and East Anglia very quickly is hugely comforting.”
And Labour district councillor for Bassingbourn, Nigel Cathcart. said: "Many of us in Bassingbourn have longed for this decision.
“It’s good for the military, because the facilities are second to none, It’s good for the village, as it removes uncertainty around the barracks’ future, and will provide employment.”