Army Reserves have made history by mobilising for their largest ever deployment in a single unit, say the British Army.

In a news release, the British Army say that approximately 240 reservists from 7 RIFLES and 5 RRF (Royal Regiment of Fusiliers) have been mobilised as a battlegroup on Operation TOSCA, the codename given to the British contribution to the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP), one of the longest-running UK operational tours.

“The battlegroup will be led by 7 RIFLES and the parade is their first as a formed unit. The parade saw them swap their regimental berets for the light blue headdress of UN peacekeepers. The battlegroup will be based at Thetford, in Norfolk, for around two months of arduous pre-deployment training (PDT), which will see them learn and practice the skills they need to keep the peace on Cyprus’ Green Line.

Following their pre-deployment training, the 7 RIFLES led battlegroup will fly out to Cyprus and take over responsibility for the sensitive Sector Two of the Green Line, which is an area in and around the island’s disputed capital, Nicosia.”

Lieutenant Colonel (Lt Col) James Gayner, the Commanding Officer of 7 RIFLES, said in the aforementioned release:

“The British Army runs on a ‘one army’ philosophy. Regular or Reserve, we wear the same uniform and are all expected to meet the same standards.  The British Army is used to sending troops to Cyprus as part of our commitment to building peace and stability, but this is the first time that the unit tasked with doing so has been entirely raised from Reservists. Most of the Regular soldiers who will be out there with us are only there because their specific jobs do not exist in the Reserve.

Our Riflemen – and Fusiliers – have made a noble choice to take almost a year out of their busy civilian lives to serve their country.  It proves what the Army Reserve can do. Yesterday they were builders, bankers, policemen, nurses and actors. From today, and for the next nine months, they are full-time, professional soldiers, playing an equal role in the British Army’s deployments and commitments.”

The British Army say that the 7 RIFLES battlegroup will take over from 27 Regiment RLC (Royal Logistics Corps) and they will spend six months in country before returning in late October and ending the tour with a medals parade.

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james
james
7 months ago

Thank you Rifles.

Paul T
Paul T
7 months ago

Hear Hear,would I be right in saying that this deployment is probably one of the best if not the best an Infantryman can get ?.

Rob
Rob
7 months ago

Good luck to 7 Rifles. You know, in the 80’s, TA (now AR) could only be mobilised as formed units. We took great pride in being a family battalion of reservists. Part of being in the TA was that if the wheels came off we would all go together, as a formed unit. Now, under one army, we are actually expected to just reinforce the regs as replacements. It is a false economy. Proper regular battalions / regiments shouldn’t need volunteer reserves to go to war and proper volunteer reserve battalions / regiments should be able to reinforce the regular… Read more »

Steve R
Steve R
7 months ago
Reply to  Rob

Would the standards and training be equal in an all-reserve unit, though?

Rob
Rob
7 months ago
Reply to  Steve R

Yes. In my service the TA battalion was at least 40% ex regular army, so if my battalion reinforced a brigade in BAOR we were ready to serve as a formed unt at least as good as a reg battalion. Now we have an Army Reserve that is needed to support any Regular Army deployment – meaning there is no volunteer reserve reinforcement available if the balloon goes north. Seriously stupid planning.

Airborne
Airborne
7 months ago
Reply to  Steve R

In my experience and opinion, as an ex SPSI, and due respect to Rob, I disagree. When reinforcing BAOR I would agree with him, but over the last 10-15 years the possibility of deploying a full reserve unit, fully manned with no back fills is nil (tho Regs have the same bloody issue) and standards overall have dropped through no fault of their own. Their are very experienced individuals, quite a few in most reserve units, but the lack of funding and decent equipment, coupled with shite recruitment, has ensured that sending a reserve unit, en masse, is non existent.… Read more »

Rob
Rob
7 months ago
Reply to  Airborne

Airborne, but that is my point. There was a day when 10 Para could deploy as a formed unit to reinforce 5 Brigade. Now we have a situation where reg battalions can’t deploy without reserves and thus reserves are functionally non-existent.

Has to change. Reg units need to be fully recruited and ready to go and the Army Reserve need to not have to worry about providing individual soldiers to the regs to allow them t0 deploy but rather concentrate upon building fully manned, professional units that can deploy en masse.

I think we agree.

Airborne
Airborne
7 months ago
Reply to  Rob

Totally agree Rob, I was lucky as I was SPSI to an airborne and quite motivated unit. It’s a sad state of affairs in regard to our Regular and reserve soldiers, and how bad they are supported, trained and in some circumstances, equipped. But we are mere tools to be used by our oh so wise leaders and it’s hard to see any future improvements coming soon. My daughter is also a reserve, and a police officer full time, but she has chinned off the reserves due to a total lack of opportunities and interest on drill nights and training… Read more »

Rob
Rob
7 months ago
Reply to  Airborne

Having left the Army I became a teacher and Officer (leader really) with the CCF. Now many of my cadets go on to uni or civilian jobs but most would enjoy and be there for the TA / AR if needed in a national crisis. However they would want to go TOGETHER as a formed unit. This idea that the regular army can’t deploy without individual reinforcement from the army reserve and the army reserve will never deploy together is false. It makes both parts of the THE army much less capable. The ONE army mantra of the politicians and… Read more »

Tim
Tim
7 months ago
Reply to  Steve R

To be fair no they are not to the same standard you get some very capable individuals but u get some that are a danger to themselves you cannot be the same standard as a infantryman by doing 2 weeks basic my regiment had to take on about 60 reserves and to be honest once we ran them through pre deployment training very few were slotted into section in rifle platoons they were mostly put into HQ type jobs or drivers

julian1
julian1
7 months ago
Reply to  Steve R

I was a former TA soldier with a predecessor to 7 Rifles – 2 Wessex back in the 90s. In my day, there was no chance a TA infantry Battalion could de-ploy en-masse, and unlikely a rifle company could. Reasons – most units woefully under-strength (particularly in the SE), skills were deficient (with very notable exceptions) and kit was mostly ancient. For example, we still had 50s pattern webbing until 1994! Most TA units will have a healthy quota of ex-regulars and highly motivated civvy soldiers (some of whom are waiting to join the regulars or have served s-types.) But… Read more »

julian1
julian1
7 months ago
Reply to  julian1

and by the way, the TA infantry will do the same training as their regular counterparts and aspire to the same standards…..just a lot less intense and less frequent. Net result – effectiveness is far lower.

Airborne
Airborne
7 months ago

A decent little doss tour, green line, stagging on for a bit, then off to Napa for a night or two. With due respect, TOSCA is a piss easy chilled out 6 months tour. Fair play to the lads, not enough easy jobs in the sun no more, so grab it while you can. Just watch out for dumb fucker Greek Cypriot pizza delivery morons nipping into the green line, getting caught and getting the shit kicked out of them by the Turks!

Harry Bulpit
Harry Bulpit
7 months ago

Glad to see the reservests getting the praise they deserve, but more must be done to support their families. We face many of the same and often unique challenges to those of regular families. When ever my dad deployed to Afghanistan my mother was left alone with free children by herself, we had no military community to rely on , the closest military family we knew where 39 minutes away, no one understood are issues, a school teacher once even told me to stop crying since he be back on the weekends, my self and siblings had to give up… Read more »