A paratrooper from Coleford is in Estonia training to show how NATO airborne forces can respond together duringcrises.

Private Matt Hames, of 3rd Battalion the Parachute Regiment (3 PARA), is one of more than 13,000 troops from 17 nations training in eight countries across eastern Europe on Exercise Swift Re-sponse.

The 21-year-old is equipped with the 7.62mm General Purpose Machine Gun (GPMG), the heaviest weapon carried with-in his eight-man section. 

“I just love firing the gun,” he said. “I’m providing firepower to the section, which keeps the enemies’ heads down and protects my mates.”

The seven-week-long exercise between April 14 and June 5 started with training to build the joint force’s skills and relationships before it deploys by parachute, helicopter and airlanding to practise seizing a foot-hold against armed opposition.

“In Estonia we’ve been training for trench warfare – it’s very cramped, the front line is only a few soldiers wide, and you’ve got to be extra switched on. 

“A lot of the time I was holding long corridors with the GPMG while the rest of the section were clearing side trenches and bunkers.

“We all know our roles and each other, and it’s the team that sees you through.”

Swift Response is part of Exercise Steadfast Defender, NATO’s largest military exercise since the Cold War. 

Approximately 90,000 troops from all 32 NATO members are training to test plans to defend Europe against a similaradversary 

It is the Western alliance’s largest military exercise since the end of the Cold War more than 30 years ago.

The British Army’s global response response force, 16 Air Assault Brigade Combat team, is leading more than 2,300 soldiers, sailors and aviators from four countries working together in Estonia.

The brigade is specially trained and equipped to deploy by parachute, helicopter and airlanding. 

Its core role is to maintain and command the Air Manoeuvre Task Force comprising infantry and aviation battlegroups.

The British Army is recruiting to fill 10,000 jobs across the UK aimed at people aged between 16 and 50.