4 Mech Brigade marches on Parliament

Yes! At last!. Ah, no wait a sec .....


4 Mech Brigade marches on Parliament
A History and Honour news article
22 Jul 08

In a rare honour bestowed on few homecoming parades, soldiers from 4th Mechanized Brigade marched into the Houses of Parliament yesterday, Monday 21 July 2008, to celebrate their return from a difficult and dangerous six month operational tour in Iraq.

Members of 4th Mechanized Brigade outside the Houses of Parliament in London
[Picture: Cpl Ian Forsyth]
The reception, which was hosted by James Gray MP, chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group for the Army, welcomed home the brigade and recognised their efforts and the sacrifices made to help bring security and stability to Basra Province.

In what is believed to be just one of a handful of times that a formed unit of soldiers has marched into Parliament, around 120 representatives from the brigade marched from Wellington Barracks through Carriage Gates and into The Great Hall, having first been welcomed by the Speaker of the House of Commons.

During their tour, 4 Mech Brigade oversaw the handover of security for Basra Province to the Iraqi authorities, helped train the Iraqi Army and then supported them through the use of Military Transition Teams (MiTTs), also helping to launch 'Operation Charge of the Knights' - a series of security operations in Basra.

Brigadier Julian Free, Commander 4th Mechanized Brigade, explained the role of the MiTTs in Iraq:

Soldiers from 4th Mechanized Brigade at their homecoming in London
[Picture: Cpl Ian Forsyth]
"The reason we're quite good at what we do is because we plan massive amounts to try and make sure that we get the right person in the right place at the right time, and essentially the Iraqis have got the same problem in that they haven't got all the equipment they want; they haven't got all the people they want; and they've got a lot to do.

"To try and get it to work, what we do in 'MiTT-ing' them is try then to help them to go through a decent planning process, pool together their resources, and work out the best way of tackling problems that they've got - which they then plan - and we try and guide that planning with them and then help them take lessons from what they've done, and then improve their process.

"So that's really what the MiTT team is there for - to get right alongside [the Iraqis], go with them on operations, see how they do them, and help them develop that way of working."

The troops then went on to meet other distinguished guests at Westminster Palace, including General Sir Richard Dannatt, Chief of the General Staff, and the Black Rod who is a senior official of the House of Lords responsible for its day to day management.

Corporal Andy Hawkins was part of a UK Military Transition Team, training elite Iraqi police units at Shaibah logistics base, near Basra:

"We were involved in training an Iraqi police tactical support unit – we would train them in enhanced assault training, to carry out strike operations so that we could go back and mutually integrate with them – due to the political situation, we were unable to carry out the operations as British Forces, so we trained the Iraqis to do them and then we would come in to support them. My team were involved in the cordon operations, basically blocking off roads so that they could go in and arrest suspects etc.

"It's a good feeling," he said of being in Parliament. "It's amazing to be a part of it, and to know how much the nation appreciates it as well."
A wasted 'regime change' opportunity. I wonder how many were 'volunteered'?

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