The UK’s top Army officer paid his first visit to the Bermuda Regiment at the weekend. General Sir Peter Wall, the Chief of the General Staff, said he was impressed by the commitment of Regiment soldiers after touring Warwick Camp and observing training.
Gen Wall said: “There is a relationship between the Bermuda Regiment and the British Army. I thought it would be wonderful to come here for a visit and get to understand a bit about the country and what kind of relationship we should have between the Regiment and the British Army.”
General Wall also met Governor George Fergusson, the Regiment Commander-in-Chief, when he stopped off on the island en route to Washington for talks with senior US Army officers.
Photos courtesy of the Bermuda Regiment:
He met the Regiment’s newest recruits in action, watched disaster relief specialists training with chainsaws and saw the Operational Support Unit (OSU) practice for its internal security role.
In addition, he spoke to the Junior Non-Commissioned Officers’ Cadre – the soldiers who will be in charge of training future recruits – and fired both the current and future issue rifles on the firing range.
General Wall said: “I have been massively impressed by what I have seen here. I have seen the enthusiasm with which your soldiers approach their training.”
He added: “It’s screaming out that this is an organisation that, once people are in it, they enjoy it and do the best they can.I just hope the Bermuda public is as aware of that as I am. It’s tremendous.”
Gen Wall said: “There’s a requirement to get the most out of our military forces, whether it’s support to other countries, training or occasions where we can share training.
“A relationship like the one the British Army might have with the Bermuda Regiment is a tile in that mosaic – it may turn out to be an important tile. This visit confirmed my sense there are linkages that are worth refining and developing.”
He added that the Regiment and the British Army, which is moving to a smaller professional component backed by a greater use of reservists, faced common challenges.
Gen Wall said: “We have to make sure we have an active discussion going on so we can give each other as much support as possible.
“There are a number of British Territories which might need military support for a disaster or whatever it might be and I know Bermuda has a history of such operations.”
Gen Wall became the professional head of the British Army in 2010. He is a near-40 year veteran of the UK armed forces and graduated from Cambridge University with a degree in engineering. He served with the Royal Engineers before joining the British airborne forces.
He has served all over the world, including the former Yugoslavia, which was torn by ethnic conflict in the 1990s, and Iraq.
Commanding Officer Lt Col Brian Gonsalves said the Regiment was trained, equipped and administered in line with the best methods adopted by other countries, like the UK and Canada.
He said: “We are largely a part-time force – but we foster a full-time attitude and standards and our training and procedures are based on some of the best in the world.
“The Regiment has a variety of roles, from hurricane and disaster relief both at home and abroad, to ceremonial duties, as well as public order duties. But whatever we’re called to do, whether at home or overseas, I’m confident our soldiers are trained and equipped to the highest standards.”
“We continually follow international best practice, and it pays dividends. If and when we get requested to assist other islands or locally, we know that our methods are the best that can be provided. ”