WHILE their families were gearing up for Christmas, two soldiers swapped East Dunbartonshire for Poland.
Officer Cadet Michael McInally and Officer Cadet Paul Sweeney slogged it out with Polish and Ukrainian soldiers during Exercise Cossack Steppe 2008.
Paul, from Bishopbriggs, and Michael, from Torrance, both took part in a live firing exercise which saw the Scottish territorials working alongside men from Poland's 25th Air Cavalry Brigade and the Ukrainian 79th Air Cavalry Brigade.
They carried out a highly-realistic simulation of a heli-borne assault on an enemy position, with troops being flown in an out of the demonstration area by MI8 helicopters, which were supported by W3W attack aircraft and a combined Scottish/Polish mortar battery.
Michael (22), who is currently a member of Glasgow and Strathclyde Universities Officer Training Corps (UOTC), was attached to 7 SCOTS during the exercise.
He said: "Working with the Polish and Ukrainian soldiers was great fun.
"Both the Poles and the Ukrainians really enjoyed the sound of the bagpipes when there was time for a little 'r and r'."
When he's not serving with the UOTC, and taking care of his university studies, Michael works as a supervisor at West Carlston Garden Centre in Torrance.
Paul (19) lives in Bishopbriggs with parents Anne and Gordon.
He is a member of 52nd Lowland, 6th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland (6 SCOTS) and was attached to 7 SCOTS during the exercise.
He said: "We really enjoyed working with the Poles and Ukrainians and discussing our different weapons systems. It was a hard exercise, but we expected that. The helicopter training was great."
The exercise was held at the Polish Army's training area at Nowa Deba, near Krakow.