Page 86 - The Rifles Bugle Autumn 2019
P. 86

It is now almost two and a half years since the 4th Battalion pioneered the Specialist Infantry role. Our progress really struck home for me when I observed the change in A Company, as they started the second rotation of the
two-year operations and readiness
cycle. After starting up our first
enduring operation in Afghanistan with such style last year, they showed huge maturity and professionalism on exercise in Kenya and Uganda. The way they performed shows that Spec Inf is no longer a new capability. The riflemen are now thoroughly comfortable in the lean structure and they are confident in their role, operating a few ranks up, at reach, in austere environments.
This collection of articles gives a flavour for the challenges and opportunities on offer in the 4th Battalion. The variety of life in Spec Inf is perhaps best illustrated by OC B Coy, who reminds us which countries his riflemen have deployed to over the past eighteen months: Afghanistan, Iraq, Egypt, Morocco, Burkina Faso, Jamaica, Belize, Trinidad and Tobago, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Tunisia, USA and Kenya. Most of the junior riflemen have earned two medals.
In our last Bugle article, we described the start of our enduring operation in Afghanistan. The opera- tional effect of our investment is now clear to see. The special forces units we raised and trained have all taken part in high-profile raids against challenging targets, at night, to kill or capture insurgent leaders and to preserve the vital evidence that enables prosecutions. Members of B Coy are now in Mazar- e-Sharif driving this project forward.
This year saw us start a new enduring operation in Iraq. Based in Taji, just outside Baghdad, members of 4 RIFLES and 1 SCOTS, our sister Spec Inf battalion, are working alongside the Qwat Khasah, which is the special forces spearhead of the Iraqi Army. Major Simon Bedford-Smith, OC R Coy, started up this operation from scratch and then handed over to Major Graham Henderson, who provides an update on the operation below. As in Afghanistan, the secret to success is the continuity provided by having one organisation taking on the task from start to finish, rotating troops through, while maintaining key relationships.
While the focus of the ‘chosen men’ of the 4th Battalion has firmly been on operations and training, we have nevertheless engaged in a variety of other sporting and social activities. Highlights include the incredible performance of our shooting team (second at Bisley, for the third year running), a skiing expedition to Serbia, and individual successes in a series of sports.
We look forward to welcoming mature and experi- enced ‘thinking riflemen’ from across the regiment (regular and reserve) to join us in the next phase of the development of the Spec Inf concept. After a successful ‘start up’, the corporate ‘buy out’ this summer of the Specialist Infantry Group by the 6th Division – the Army’s new asymmetric and irregular warfare formation – will provide us with a host of exciting opportunities in the years to come.
Lt Col Peter Baines MBE
A Company Overview
After completing a busy eight-month period on operations, A Coy took a moment to breathe and transitioned to the contingency or ‘other tasks’ phase of the Specialised Infantry Group readiness cycle. This saw riflemen travelling far and wide. A small team deployed to Africa to teach Close Quarter Battle (CQB) techniques to Ghanaian Special Forces, while Coy HQ found itself being tested on a 5th Special Forces Group exercise in the US. Support to other Spec Inf units was also a constant theme, providing further training oppor- tunities for all involved. Exercise Mayan Storm, saw Riflemen operating in the Belizean jungle and
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