The History of the Army Reserve (previously the Territorial Army) infantry in Northern Ireland
The Territorial Army (TA) infantry was not organised in Northern Ireland until 1947.
Through the last 70 years the strength has ebbed and flowed with various contemporary defence reviews. The TA infantry battalions created in Northern Ireland in 1947 were the 5th Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, 6th Royal Ulster Rifles and 5th Royal Irish Fusiliers. On April 1, 1967, a reduction in the TA saw each battalion, plus the London Irish Rifles, reduced to company strength and amalgamated as The North Irish Militia which eventually became 4th (Volunteer) Battalion The Royal Irish Rangers (27th (Inniskilling) 83rd and 87th) (North Irish Militia) on April 18, 1978. Cadre battalions of Inniskillings, Rifles and Faughs continued in being until 1971 when the Rifles’ and Faughs’ cadres became the nucleus of 5th (Volunteer) Battalion The Royal Irish Rangers; 5th Inniskillings continued as a separate cadre battalion until final disbandment in 1975.
Both TA battalions of The Royal Irish Rangers were assigned British Army on the Rhine (BAOR) tasks. The Royal Irish Regiment was formed on 1 April 1992, but it was not until April 1, 1993, that the two TA battalions amalgamated to form the 4th/5th Battalion The Royal Irish Rangers (Volunteers), or 4/5 RANGERS. On the July 1, 1999, the Battalion was re-designated The Royal Irish Rangers, or ‘Rangers’, as a result of a Strategic Defence Review, and reduced to two rifle companies with the North Irish Horse squadron being attached for several years. Operation BANNER ended on 31st July 2007 and the Rangers were renamed 2nd Battalion The Royal Irish Regiment, or 2 R IRISH, on September 1, 2007.
In 2008 the Battalion regained its third rifle company.
Since Options for Change in 1992 the Battalion has continually pushed the boundaries for the utility of the reserves across the world. 4/5 RANGERS saw the first operational deployment of the TA since World War 2 in 1994, when 35 personnel deployed to support 1 R IRISH as part of the resident infantry company in the Falkland Islands.
This deployment laid the foundation for subsequent deployments of Territorials and for a platoon from the battalion to deploy to Bosnia in 1996 as part of the Implementation Force (IFOR), a NATO-led multinational peacekeeping force in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Between 1997 and 2003 the battalion conducted training team tasks in Lithuania, and deployed the first British Army battalion to Ukraine to take part in a NATO Partnership for Peace exercise.
In January 2003, the battalion mobilised 68 personnel as part of the first TA infantry mobilisation since World War 2. In the last decade 478 personnel have been mobilised for operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and Cyprus, and the London Olympics in 2012.
At this year’s annual Shamrock Presentation parade, Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant for Antrim, Joan Christie OBE, highlighted the service of the contemporary Irish infantry soldier serving in The Royal Irish Regiment: “The soldiers of the 1st Royal Irish Regiment have being adding to a proud tradition, especially during the last decade of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
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