Territorial Army soldiers with The Royal Wessex Yeomanry at Old Sarum TA Centre near Salisbury have a new leader to guide their Squadron’s expansion.
He is Major Richard Morgan, 35, who has taken over as Officer Commanding with B (Royal Wiltshire Yeomanry) Squadron, succeeding Major Charles O’Neil Roe.
Under plans announced this summer by The Secretary of State for Defence, the Squadron is to gain a detachment in Swindon.
The Territorial Army is also becoming the Army Reserve, growing to 30,000 trained Reservists by 2018 and benefiting from a £1.8bn investment in better training and equipment as well as enhanced conditions of service.
“It’s an exciting time for all of us, particularly here at B Squadron,” said Richard.
“Our comrades in Swindon are also descended from the Royal Wiltshire Yeomanry so we share a common heritage – a very historic one too. According to the plan, they will become part of B Squadron by this time next year.”
Like all TA soldiers across the UK, they will benefit from the introduction of paid annual leave and pension entitlements during training and operations, plus better access to defence health services and training. Employers will be given £500 per month per Reservist when mobilised, in addition to existing help such as with the cost of advertising for replacements.
Richard was commissioned into the Royal Wessex Yeomanry in 2003 from Oxford University Officer Training Corps – and was almost immediately mobilised to serve in Iraq as an intelligence officer in the early days of Operation Telic.
He made such an impression on his superiors that he was given responsibility for a Troop of Regular soldiers. That was unusual for a 25-year-old TA officer at that time, and Richard admitted: “It was slightly daunting but I had been pushing for it.
“When I took over the Troop our role was to mentor the Iraqi Highways Police but after a week the insurgency broke out and we ended up doing fighting patrols around Al Amara.
“But I loved it. I learnt a lot about soldiering – and about myself – and it was a springboard for my career.”
He then spent time in Iraq in two civilian roles, first liaising between coalition forces and private security companies, and then as manager for an Anglo-Iraqi project management company.
Throughout this time, he arranged his leave to maintain TA training commitments, including annual camps.
The Army came calling again in 2007 with the offer of another operational tour, this time in Baghdad, assisting in the task of medium and long-term planning across the country – “a fascinating job.” More recent assignments have involved working in HQ 43 (Wessex) Brigade in Tidworth and a three-year stint at the Ministry of Defence in London where Richard was tasked with media and communications policy planning for Afghanistan.
After fitting in a three-month tour to Afghanistan, which ended in June, he is now throwing his energies into helping his wife, Emma, develop her business organising conferences and other events related to the IT industry. Although currently living in Putney, the couple plan to move to Wiltshire before too long.
Of course, the Army has provided other opportunities for adventurous training, which Richard has enjoyed to the full. As well as being an accomplished skier, he was captain of the TA Cresta Run team and a member of the Army team, becoming overall Army Cresta champion two years’ running. “It’s like a tea tray on skates, but it does 80mph” he explained.
Last but by no means least, he is currently Equerry to the HRH The Earl of Wessex, who is the Royal Wessex Yeomanry’s Royal Honorary Colonel.
The Royal Wessex Yeomanry incorporates three other squadrons – in Dorset, Gloucestershire and Devon – and trains Challenger 2 battle tank crewmen in order to fulfil an essential armoured resilience role in support of the Regular Army.
B (Royal Wiltshire Yeomanry) Squadron, The Royal Wessex Yeomanry, continues to attract new recruits. For more information call 01722 438343, or to find out about opportunities in the TA visit www.army.mod.uk/join/20237.aspx.