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Light Cavalry

The SNIY is part of the Army’s new Light Cavalry role, which is a significant uplift in responsibility compared to the previous traditional reconnaissance role. Light Cavalry involves getting out into local populations in order to find, influence and understand the situation on the ground. To do this SNIY soldiers need to be fit, adaptable and self-reliant; prepared to work in small teams, often well in front of other friendly forces; in any terrain or environment to get the job done.

To facilitate this SNIY soldiers have been equipped with light weight and manoeuvrable R-WMIK vehicles; an armoured Land Rover equipped with heavy machine guns; which provide the ability to operate over long distances. In addition, troops are equipped with the latest lightweight sight systems to enable operations to be conducted by day and night.

As part of reforms to the Armed Forces the SNIY have been paired with a Regular unit - The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards (Scots DG) - who are mounted on JACKAL fighting vehicles. We are now working together to develop the Light Cavalry role and SNIY will deploy on exercises and operations with the Scots DG around the world.

History of Cavalry

Cavalry are historically the most mobile of the combat arms and started life with infantry soldiers who moved on horseback, but dismounted to fight on foot. From earliest times cavalry had the advantage of improved mobility, making it an instrument which multiplied the fighting value of even the smallest forces, allowing them to outflank and avoid, to surprise and overpower, to retreat and escape according to the requirements of the moment.

The speed, mobility and shock value of the cavalry was greatly appreciated and exploited in armed forces in the Ancient and Middle Ages. Cavalry became increasingly armoured (heavy), and eventually became known for the mounted knights.

In the period between the World Wars, many cavalry units were converted to motorised infantry and mechanized infantry units, or reformed as tank troops.

The term cavalry is still often used to refer to units that are a combat arm of the armed forces, which in the past filled the traditional horse-borne land combat light cavalry roles. These include scouting, skirmishing with enemy reconnaissance elements to deny them knowledge of own disposition of troops, forward security, offensive reconnaissance by combat, defensive screening of friendly forces during retrograde movement, retreat, restoration of command and control, deception, battle handover and passage of lines, relief in place, linkup, breakout operations, and raiding. The shock role, traditionally filled by heavy cavalry, is generally filled by units with the “armoured" designation.

Current Light Cavalry Squadrons are often referred to as sabre squadrons, which is typically used to refer to units descended from or influenced by cavalry, such as armoured or reconnaissance units. The term is named after the sabre used by soldiers on horseback and is the direct equivalent to the term rifle company used by infantry units. The term is also used for operational squadrons of the British Special Air Service (SAS).

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