Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Carry on up the Lagan

A slightly odd tone in an obituary in the Times of London today:

General Sir Roland Guy, GCB, CBE, DSO, Adjutant-General, 1984-86 ...

Roland Kelvin Guy was born in Srinagar, Kashmir, the son of Lieutenant-Colonel Norman Guy ... As a young officer he was selected to be adjutant of the Kenya Regiment, a Territorial Army unit comprising British expatriates in Kenya.

He was ideally suited to this environment and formed friendships which lasted his lifetime. Although the regiment was not committed as a whole to anti-terrorist operations against the Mau-Mau, many individuals were. Thus he gained active service experience which proved useful during the Indonesian confrontation with Malaysia in the early 1960s and later in Northern Ireland ...

The spring of 1971 saw swiftly mounting tension in the Province as the Stormont Government of Prime Minister Brian Faulkner sought to restore the pre-1969 status quo. Guy knew that his riflemen would face a very different attitude in the republican areas from the friendly reception they had received in 1969, and he trained them rigorously for it. Urban tactics, accurate shooting and physical fitness were the key elements.

Guy’s battalion was responsible for Belfast city centre during the 1971 introduction of internment, which brought a week of rioting, sniping and bomb explosions. He handled subordinates with the Green Jackets’ traditional light touch, but kept a firm grip on his operational area by getting out and about to see for himself, encouraging and inspiring his riflemen. They appreciated his style and used their initiative accordingly. As well as keeping a lid on the week of mayhem following the introduction of internment, his battalion scored notable successes against the increasingly confident Provisional IRA ...

Guy received the DSO in the first list of operational awards to recognise that the security forces were engaged not in “keeping the peace” but — because the peace had already been lost — in a counter-terrorist campaign.

Now the army was handed an impossible job in this period, but the equation of tactics in Northern Ireland with those of the Kenyan uprising in particular is jarring and perhaps not as flattering as is intended.

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