The Shamrock, emblem of 38 (Irish) Brigade, is now being seen on soldiers’ arms across Scotland and England as the Brigade, based at Lisburn’s Thiepval Barracks, assumes command of more regiments and units in the ongoing transformation of UK armed forces.
The Brigade is not only responsible for the garrison across Northern Ireland but is also a major part of the UK’s ‘adaptable force’ which provides troops, both regular and reserve, for deployments worldwide.
It is now represented in Scotland by 3 Rifles based at Dreghorn Barracks, Edinburgh and in England with two reserve units – 7 Rifles in London and the home counties and 5 Royal Regiment of Fusiliers based across North Yorkshire and Northumberland.
As well as this, 38 (Irish) Brigade has also a major defence engagement role across much of Africa where it has already undertaken a number of short term training roles with local forces.
The transformation of the Brigade over the past two years has largely been steered by outgoing Commander, Brigadier Ralph Woodisse. It’s been under his steerage that much of the re-alignment and re-focusing operationally has taken place. This has included the restructuring of the Army Reserves in Northern Ireland with increased recruitment opportunities as well as the arrival of The Royal Scots Borderers to their new home at Holywood and re-basing of 2 Rifles from Ballykinler to Lisburn. It’s meant major commitments from NI to the drawdown in Afghanistan as well as training deployments across Africa and parts of the middle east.
“38 (Irish) Brigade has gone through an intense period of realignment and refocus while heavily committed throughout to operations and training around the world,” said the brigadier. “This not only has meant incredible pressures and demands on troops but also their families and it would not have been achievable without the incredible support from across the NI community.”
Brigadier Woodisse will not lose his links with 38 (Irish) Brigade when he moves to the UK’s Permanent Joint Headquarters responsible for command of all overseas operations.
“I know the expertise and commitment across the Brigade and have made so many good friends here that it’s inevitable we will be engaged with each other time and again in the years to come,” he said.
The reins now fall to Brigadier Andrew Roe, who will oversee preparation for more major operational commitments, including a UN tour in Cyprus for 1 Scots at Holywood as well as training deployments to Africa and Europe.
A Yorkshire man and former Commanding Officer with 2 Yorks – he has wide operational experience including Bosnia and Afghanistan as well as commanding operational training for UK troops.