News that the Desert Rates (7th Armoured Brigade that won fame in North Africa under Montgomery with victories in battles including El Alamein.) is to fold and be subsumed into a plodding infantry Brigade is sad but not surprising. The Army is shrinking and consolidation is inevitable.
An Armoured Brigade is a moving target, made up of Regiments and Battalions that move from Brigade to Brigade every few years. In 1942 7th Armoured Brigade comprised the following Regiments - 7th Hussars, 2nd Royal Tank Regiment and the 1st Bn. Queens Own Cameron Highlanders. So the demise of the Desert Rats Brigade is sad but it’s not important.
Imagine you are an Argentinian contemplating the invasion of the Falklands, you know that the Black Watch are stationed on the Island - complete with pipe band and hundreds of battle honours. You would be bloody scared, but if you faced the 3rd Scots you might well feel more confident!
Visit their museum at - http://www.theblackwatch.co.uk/
|Their understated motto - "No One Provokes Me With Impunity"|
The Telegraph muffles drums and reverses boots at:
|Insignia of 7th Armoured Brigade|
What is important is the creeping demise of the Regimental system. The British Army was founded on the Regimental system, small ‘units’ or 400-800 men. The soldiers join as a recruits and stay throughout their career and the officers maintain a lifelong association. These Regiments and Battalions recruit from distinct geographical regions, which along with their history give a strong sense of identity and purpose. This sense of identity and the need to ‘honour’ the regiment is the basis of the British Army’s success. There are literally hundreds of examples where small numbers of soldiers, deployed within the Regimental system, come up trumps. From Quebec to Rouke's Drift and the Falklands this system has proved itself unbeatable. Interestingly, since the cold war ended, all operations / threats have needed exactly this type of force. Thank goodness the days when we need to muster Armies, Corps and Divisions to take on the Germans are ancient history.
As the Army has needed to shrink in size the Bureaucrats rationalised that super regiments were the answer, the amalgamations in the Scottish Regiments, the Cavalry and the Light Division were the warning shots. In fact the leadership in the Army has been pretty pathetic in fending of this ‘death by a thousand mergers’, more interested in securing their own futures than the security of our country.
Just at the time that we really need small groups of well led soldiers we are moving to the American system . The system in the US has no sense of regiment – soldiers are moved by a faceless HR machine from Division to Division with no thought or guile. Heaven forbid that we end up in this world of grey / Khaki where all the regimental silver has been melted down into a massive single ingot of a V sign with the inscription ‘RIP the regimental system’ etched on to the plinth.