MILITARY officers took to the streets for a training exercise in urban warfare – the first of its kind in the town.

About 160 officers from different regiments of the Army and Royal Marines, all of the rank of major, gathered in Old Town and the town centre to consider realistic scenarios of a war in a built-up urban area.

It forms part of the operational training undertaken at the Defence Academy, in Shrivenham, and is the first time tutors have decided to use Swindon as an example.

Major Simon Everard, who composed the exercise, said it gave the officers a chance to get out of the classroom.

“I designed a set of problems in a fictional town that happens to look a lot like Swindon and it helps them to visualise bits of the battlefield by being in it,” he said.

“The way certain operations are going in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Army need to focus on the urban environment.

“We chose Swindon because it is our biggest local town and it allowed us to get out of the classroom, see the battlefield and experiment in a greater level of detail.

“The police and the local authority have been great in facilitating us and we would like to thank them publicly for their help in providing detailed to-scale maps.”