There is a NATO training camp in a place called Fallingbostel, a few miles from the German city of Hamburg. In 1986, the then Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, found herself there visiting British troops. After two terms in office, the premier’s hold on power seemed to be on the wane. The PM was asked whether she would like would like to drive a Challenger tank and the iconic picture of the Iron Lady doing just that was published worldwide, and she got her third term.
This may have been going through the mind of the current Defence Minister, Gavin Williamson, although he denied it, who has been visiting Oman and seeing for himself the joint military exercises as he sat in the turret of a Challenger 2 tank, complete with helmet and with the union flag flying behind him. What better way to get the message into the press about his budget increase?
Timely you may say, after comments made by ex-soldier Tobias Ellwood, who was praised for trying to save the life of PC Keith Palmer in the Westminster terror attack. He has been campaigning against plans to reduce the full-time strength of British troops to 70,000, representing a loss of 12,000 soldiers.
The month-long war games in Oman demonstrate the UK’s commitment to the region. The exercises include ground forces, a large Royal Navy presence, and eight RAF Typhoon fighter aircraft. The operation, called Saif Sareea or Swift Sword, will involve 5,500 British personnel. The Government is clearly taking the potential threats posed by what are referred to as ‘peer-plus’ heavyweights very seriously.
Tank driving experiences
So if all this makes you want a tank driving challenge, then why not take a trip to Leicestershire and pay a visit to the Armourgeddon Museum
Here you can take your place in the turret of a FV432 tank of your very own. The museum boasts no fewer than sixty tanks, military vehicles, guns, interactive displays and other military hardware. Just close your eyes and imagine that it is you in the turret somewhere in the Omani desert, defeating Putin’s army, under temperatures of 40 degrees. If you prefer, you could imagine saving the world, and your political career, somewhere closer to home, in Fallingbostel, where Margaret Thatcher was photographed so famously.