The Army is having a busy and varied year, with structural changes, preparations for future tasks, ongoing commitments to Afghanistan, Olympic duties and Diamond Jubilee celebrations. This involvement in a diverse range of tasks is perhaps best demonstrated by the Irish Guards.
Already this year the Irish Guards have been required to allocate troops to the UK Ops Battalion, to the HERRICK 18 deployment, to provide security at the Eton Dorney Rowing Lake for the Olympics, and yet also continue to perform ceremonial duties. So while the Guards are well known for their gleaming kit and parade square precision, combined with a robust fighting spirit, they must be even more adaptable than that.
The UK Ops Battalion may be required to assist with disaster relief, to tackle riots or even to deploy to Bosnia at the end of the year as part of the European Union's stabilisation programme. These potential tasks require a more measured and subtle approach in order to interact with civilians and coalition partners - something that providing Olympic Security will help Guardsmen prepare for.
Discipline and professionalism
In between the long hours spent on the drill square, the Irish Guards have been conducting a series of exercises at Longmoor training area to refresh public order skills. However, they firmly believe that these supposedly contrasting activities are in fact mutually supporting. Commenting on the transition, 2nd Lt Florian Graham Watson said:
"The drill square is all about discipline, professionalism, words of command, and looking smart; all the kind of things that are transferable in every facet of the Army. I think there are many parallels between the public order training we're doing at the moment and the skills that you learn while on parade."
The Irish Guards took part in the Queen's Birthday Parade on Saturday 16 June and will begin their Olympic venue security training at the end of the month.