Book Review
BATUS British Army Training Unit Suffield
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by: Henk Meerdink [ HENK ]

Every Army needs realistic training to prepare itself for combat. And whilst repetitive training on Unit level in Barracks will hone the skills of soldiers and make their (inter)actions second nature, to fully prepare for Battle Conditions you need a realistic training area where full combat scenarios can be practised without the hindrance of civilian intervention.

There are large training areas in almost every country that are used by Armies for their training needs ( such as amongst others Salisbury Plain in the U.K., Bergen-Hohne and Hohenfels in Germany and Drawsko Pomorskie in Poland), but due to the population density of Western Europe, non of these can accommodate a full scale, live fire,exercise of an All Arms Armoured Battle Group strength. After the Second World War, the British Army used the vast, and empty, Libyan Desert for itss large scale live fire exercises, but when Colonel Gaddafi took power in 1969 the British Army had to look elsewhere for its training facilities.

The Canadian Army had created one of the largest exercise areas in the Western hemisphere in 1941 when an area around the small village of Medicine Hat was cleared by re-housing the few occupants. Initially used as a test ground for equipment and explosives, it is now a permanent training facility where full live fire combat conditions can be re-created. It has been the permanent home of the British Army Training Unit since the 1970's and each year five full scale exercises are held.

Publisher: Tankograd Publishing.
Author: Carl Schulze.
Pages: 64 pages soft cover.
Photos: 118 Colour Photos.
Text: 13 Pages (German and English).
No: British Special 9008.

A closer look
Unlike most other books, this volume is not divided into different chapters but simply begins with a written history of the BATUS training area and follows that with 118 colour photos of most vehicles that can be found trundling around this part of the Canadian prairie.

The text occupies the first 13 pages, in the familiar style of two columns per page, with the left hand column being the German text and the right hand column the English text. This format takes a little getting used to as it is all to easy when you turn the page, after reading the English column at the bottom right of the page, to carry on reading the German text in the left hand column. If you can read both English and German this can occasionally be a little confusing, but in practise it is not a big problem. This format has a certain necessity when there are illustrations relevant to the text, to avoid having to go back and forth searching for illustrations, but if there are no illustrations (as is the case here) it may be worth considering printing both texts one after the other.

The text explains the training format of the British All Arms Armoured Battle Group in some detail and how this is accommodated at BATUS. A history of the creation of the site, including the origin of the name 'Medicine Man' for the exercises, and its development to today, and some interesting numbers of the logistics involved in the training are also included. The live fire exercises use an impressive amount of ordnance, reflected in part in the annual budget of some 40.000.000.

The photos are superb and show a very wide range of the vehicles used, from Land Rovers, simple Cargo Trucks, to Challenger Tanks during live fire exercise. The vast majority of the vehicles are OPFOR vehicles in the NATO Green and Stone camouflage scheme. Most pictures are full side or three quarter views but there are some interesting pictures showing closer detail of turrets and upper deck stations. The Engineers are not forgotten, and there are photos of most of the (heavy) support and recovery vehicles, including the Trojan AVRE. A very nice inclusion are the photos of the Staff Vehicles and their peculiar colour schemes as well as the bright red Warrior AIFV's.

This is another superb publication from Tankograd. It is primarily of interest to fans of modern British Military hardware but the photographs are a great resource to study both camouflage and weathering of modern Military vehicles because the photos include both clean, dusty, and very muddy vehicles, with a variety of stowage. Very highly recommended.
Highs: Superb quality and range of photographs.
Lows: Text format can be confusing.
Verdict: Highly recommended
Percentage Rating
  Scale: Other
  Mfg. ID: British Special 9008
  Suggested Retail: 14.95 Euro
  PUBLISHED: Aug 13, 2008
  NATIONALITY: United Kingdom

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About Henk Meerdink (Henk)

Copyright 2021 text by Henk Meerdink [ HENK ]. All rights reserved.


Having had a chance to look at the book I found the images very good overall. I think there is an error in the review......a line in the review reads as follows: "The vast majority of the vehicles are OPFOR vehicles in the NATO Green and Stone camouflage scheme." The BATUS "friendly force" vehicles used by the rotating troops are painted in the NATO green and stone camouflage.....not the OPFOR vehicles. The OPFOR vehicles at BATUS are in fact painted in a shade of a dark brown with camouflage green and reddish brown stripes. One disappoint I saw in the book was actually the lack of OPFOR vehicle images.....the OPFOR vehicles and troops play a very important role at BATUS and there is literally no coverage of their vehicles in the book.
AUG 12, 2008 - 03:26 PM
Well spotted Jason, I did indeed slip up on the OPFOR colour scheme. I must have got confused with the Land Warfare School here in Warminster (I live practically next door to Salisbury Plain), where the OPFOR forces do use the Green and Stone scheme. (I have edited this in the review, thanks for the heads up Jason) The BATUS OPFOR scheme is indeed mentioned in the book, but only in one sentence... I overlooked it, until I just went to look for it specifically. Cheers Henk
AUG 12, 2008 - 05:50 PM

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