The commanding officer of the Royal Scots Borderers has been talking about the battalion’s controversial move to a permanent base in Belfast.
Army reformers had said the battalion’s home would be in Edinburgh, but the Northern Ireland posting was confirmed when they were in Afghanistan. Some families and soldiers were unhappy at the news.
Lieutenant Colonel Matt Munro took over command in July. He said he didn’t want to generalise because he hadn’t met all the families, but had met some who, he said, were getting used to the idea.
Colonel Munro commented: The bottom line is that Edinburgh is a great place to live and work and many soldiers had been there for some time in barracks which are in a super position and had become part of the Edinburgh community.
“But Belfast is a great bustling city and the barracks we are moving into are well equipped and modern. The operational role is challenging and something to look forward to and to get our teeth into the start of the next chapter for the Royal Scots Borderers.”
He confirmed: “We are taking troops out to Northern Ireland to understand exactly where it is we are going and what there is to offer in terms of housing, jobs for the families and schooling We have gone to some trouble to look at this in detail and all the feedback I get is very positive.”
Soldiers and their families will make the move to Belfast next summer.
The Royal Scots Borderers are the 1st Battalion (1Scots) of the Royal Regiment of Scotland and formed by the amalgamation of the KOSB and the Royal Scots.
Col. Munro took over command in July from Lt. Col. Ben Wrench who had led the battalion for two years.
A company of 1Scots is currently the Royal Guard at Ballater and Munro says morale is high.
He added: “In recent years the battalion has been busy in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is now an opportunity for us to get back into a routine where we can train progressively. Where we can, I hope, spend more time with our families and enjoy being a battalion and enjoy the aspects of barrack life and battalion life which perhaps we haven’t been able to enjoy so fully in recent years on the basis of it being so busy.”
He added:”Morale is high. There is plenty to keep us busy and plenty to look forward to.”
Col. Munro was born in Australia to a Scottish father and joined The Highlanders in 1996. He saw operational service in Northern Ireland and Kosovo and was in the Gulf in 2003.
He was also in Afghanistan with the Black Watch and on the NATO staff based in Kabul.