Today sees the inauguration of the 46th President of the United States of America in Washington DC. Thanks to a new scheme, a British Army reservist will be on duty with his US National Guard unit in the capital.
Major Keiron Francis, a Royal Signals reservist, is a sales director in the defence industry working on US Department of Defense and United Nations projects. Thanks to a new scheme, the Foreign Military Reserve Exchange Program, Keiron has been able to continue to serve as a reservist whilst living abroad. The reciprocal arrangement means that American, Australian, and Canadian soldiers can do the same in the UK.
Keiron, who has previously served on operations in Bosnia, Kosovo and Iraq, is attached to the Pennsylvania Army National Guard (PAARNG) with 56 Stryker Brigade Combat Team where he works in the Brigade Headquarters as an signals officer providing IT networks and communications.
The US 28th Infantry Division, of which Keiron’s Unit is a part, is the oldest and longest serving Division in the US Army and was the first ashore on Omaha Beach during the D Day landings of 1944 – immortalised in the film, ‘Saving Private Ryan’. The PAARNG is the third largest National Guard in the US (behind California and Texas) with around army 13,500 troops, just under half of the whole British Army Reserve.
In the run up to the Inauguration, Keiron has deployed with around 20,000 National Guard personnel who are in Washington DC providing military support to the event, completing his Annual Camp, and standing shoulder to shoulder with our American ally as we have done on operations since the First World War.