Rifles move into their new home in Lisburn

Soldiers with 2 Rifles have moved from Ballykinler to their new base at Lisburn this year whilst also embarking on a hectic pre-deployment package as they get ready to undertake another tour of duty in Afghanistan in the autumn.

The battalion will be based both in the capital Kabul as well as Camp Bastion as UK troops draw down from operations and hand over to local forces.

The Commanding Officer, Lt Col Mark Gidlow-Jackson says that with the move to Lisburn, deployment training and then boots on the ground in Afghanistan there its going to be a busy time over the next year for both soldiers and families.

“Problem solving is what the Army is about and not only do we have a lot of people versed in unit moves but also the support from 38 (Irish) Brigade so it should be as seamless as possible,” he said.

The move from Ballykinler was approved after a review at best use of infrastructure and long term costings.

“It comes with mixed blessings for the battalion.

“The decision was never going to be universally popular because there are a lot of attractions for living and working in Ballykinler,” said Lt Col Gidlow-Jackson.

“There is the local training environment, the beauty of the countryside, community and education support. But then there are also advantages in the move to Lisburn including proximity to a wide range of facilities.

“For the most part, the community will be sad to see us go and it would be sad to loose some of the relationships established here over many years.

“But the reality is that Lisburn is not really that far away and there is no reason why the many firm friendships here can’t endure.

“Ballykinler remains, in my mind, the best training area in Northern Ireland and 2 Rifles will be among the many regular users,” he added.

The Rifles trace their values and heritage back to the Peninsular War.

Then, as today, independence of thought and action were prized amongst the specialist soldiers equipped with rifles who were known as Riflemen.