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4th Mechanized Brigade

The Brigade has recently returned from being the lead formation of British troops in Afghanistan for Operation HERRICK 17. The roulement tour saw The Black Rats working in support of the Afghan Army's 3/215 Brigade and all elements of the Afghan National Police. The Brigade handed over responsibility for Task Force Helmand to 1st Mechanized Brigade in April 2013.


4th Mechanized Brigade has a proud history having been formed in the deserts of North Africa at the start of the Second World War. They fought in a series of major tank battles, including El Alamein, under the command of the original Desert Rats.

It was at this time that Brigade troops adopted the Jerboa or 'Black Rat' emblem that they continue to wear as their insignia today. The Black Rats were subsequently involved in the Invasion of Sicily and fighting in Italy before taking part in the Battle of Normandy and the advance through Belgium, Holland and into Germany.

Iraq and Afghanistan

More recently, the Brigade took part in the First Gulf War and completed a number of tours to the Balkans during the 1990s. The Black Rats have since deployed twice to Iraq and once before to Afghanistan for Operation HERRICK 12 in 2010; they therefore bring a wealth of operational experience and expertise to Helmand Province in October 2012.

4th Mechanized Brigade contains many fine and historic regiments. The Queen's Royal Lancers and The Royal Dragoon Guards are the cavalry units in the Brigade; the infantry units deploying with the Brigade to Afghanistan include 1st Battalion Scots Guards, 1st Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland (The Royal Scots Borderers), 1st Battalion The Duke of Lancaster's Regiment, 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Cheshire) and 1st Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles.

Taunton-based 40 Commando Royal Marines will also deploy on Operation HERRICK 17 as part of the Brigade. The Black Rats are commanded by Brigadier Bob Bruce.

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