In the last 100 years the British army has moved on from using horses and fairly basic transport to today it has at its disposal great technical as well as mechanical equipment so necessary to defend our way of life and support overseas missions. It also has the benefit of working closely with the RAF and Navy to ensure victory in the field. But what will it be like in twenty or thirty years from now?
This is the question posed by Lt Col Richard C O Grover MBE who told of his experiences as an officer in today’s infantry regiments at the latest Probus Club meeting.
In the eighteen years since graduating from the Sandhurst Military Academy he has risen up the ranks and in 2020 takes command of the 2nd Battalion of The Mercian Regiment. Getting to this position has not been easy with exposure to great personal risk and deep sadness from the loss and injuries to his troops on the battlefield.
Richard’s first posting was to Northern Ireland where he was stationed in Dungannon. He had great respect for the police force.
On detachment to Afghanistan and the night the England football team were playing a world cup match they determined to keep safe in their compound but the Taliban had other ideas. Thirty insurgents attempted to overrun their base. Richard was full of praise for the NCOs, the backbone of the British army, who were able to take the firefight to the enemy so that despite the action of the Taliban his men suffered no losses. During their time in that country, of his company of 130 men, eleven lost their lives and 30 suffered wounds, some life-changing. As a result of his activities Richard Grover, a major at the time, was awarded the MBE.
Iraq proved to be a different experience being involved with the post-war clear up of Basra. The vagaries of the British weather he considered to be a plus point in handling some of the climate extremes they encountered. The summer heat reached 50 degrees and without air conditioning was difficult to cope with but the winter was cold.
Somalia was different again but this was a small operation engaged in trying to prevent internal conflict.
Recent time spent at the Staff College was very much involved with anticipating changes that will occur with the increasing use of cyber attacks and fake news.
Equally, the positive interaction between the British population and the military, which mainly becomes clear around Remembrance Day in November, has to be managed carefully. The British taxpayer needs to continue to support the army that consumes 25% of the defence budget. And it is reassuring that the British military is apolitical and therefore will always follow the ruling of which shade of government is in power.