With 60% of the regiment deployed on operations in Afghanistan, the Rear Operations Group in Bad Fallingbostel, northern Germany, led by Officer Commanding Major Steve Walters, formed up to pipe the last of the tanks out of the barracks that have been their home for nearly 30 years.
This is one of the first significant steps of the Army 2020 programme which sees the formation of the Adaptable and Reaction Forces.
The Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Ben Cattermole, spoke to his soldiers in Kabul with fond sadness at the departure of the Challenger 2 main battle tank but also of the great opportunities that will come as they rerole to light cavalry.
Lieutenant Colonel Cattermole said:
Today marks a historic day in our 335-year history as our 3 remaining Challenger 2 tanks leave Wessex Barracks in Bad Fallingbostel.
Since our last deployment on Challenger 2 in 2008, the regiment has continued to conduct armoured training but has frequently reroled to fulfil counter-insurgency and training operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
So, today, 75 years from when our predecessors first took to tank soldiering we will hand over our tanks and focus entirely on our future as Britain’s leading light cavalry regiment.
We will integrate fully with the new Scottish and North Irish Yeomanry and shall stand together as Scotland’s Cavalry.
Corporal Stevie Barrett, who has qualified as a Challenger 2 driver, operator, gunner and most recently a crew commander, said:
It’s a sad day for the regiment to be fair, as the tanks have been around for a very long time, but it’ll be good to go onto something new and a new role. The regiment is very capable of doing that and so it will be good to step up and move on.
I’m looking forward to the challenge ahead and doing something new will keep the guys interested. As part of the Rear Operations Group we will be doing instructors’ courses and commanders’ courses so that when the guys come back we can teach them.
Corporal Andy Stewart drove the first Jackal into Wessex Barracks to mark the regiment’s new start. He said:
This is a big part of the regiment’s history; it’s a big part of my history. When I came I started on tanks and I have been on operations in the Challenger 2 as well.
However, it’s quite exciting to be part of this whole new transition to working on a new platform (vehicle) and being here on the day when the regiment will move into the future.
I’ve had good times with the Jackal on operations and in my training. It is one of the few vehicles in the Army that genuinely put a smile on my face when I got to drive it. People think it looks vulnerable, but it’s really quick and really effective.
It is a really reliable piece of kit and you can tell a lot of money and preparation has been put into it to make sure the vehicle is ready for us. We’re moving on and everybody likes a challenge – that’s why you join the Army.