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12th Mechanized Brigade

The 12th Mechanized Brigade is a deployable brigade of the British Army assigned to the 3rd (UK) Division. It comprises armored, mechanized, and light role troops, making it capable of a wide variety of missions anywhere in the world. The Headquarters, which is based in Bulford, Wiltshire, England commands, controls, force generates and trains units for operations in support of 3rd (UK) Division and the British Army's Land Component.

12th Infantry Brigade was first mobilized for the Boer War in South Africa in 1899, commanded by Major General Clements. Prior to this date the Brigade had existed on paper only. It was custom at this time for brigades to be known by the name of their commander rather than a number and Clements Brigade, as it was subsequently known, consisted of the 2nd Battalion, The Bedfordshire Regiment; the 1st Battalion, The Royal Irish Regiment; 2nd Battalion, The Worcestershire Regiment; and 2nd Battalion, The Wiltshire Regiment. The Brigade went on to win battle honors at Rensburg, Norval's Point, Biddulph's Berg, and Slabbert's Nek. Following the end of the war in South Africa, 12th Infantry Brigade was sent back to England, with the Brigade headquarters located in Plymouth, Devon, England.

At the outbreak of the Great War in 1914, the Brigade consisted of the 1st Battalion, The Lancashire Fusiliers; 2nd Battalion, The Inniskilling Fusiliers; and the 2nd Battalion, The Essex Regiment. The Brigade soon saw action in the Battle of the Marne when the British Expeditionary Force pushed back the advancing Germans. However, the lines of trenches grew stronger over the following months and a stalemate developed, which became 12th Infantry Brigade's existence. By the end of the war, the Brigade had won many battle honors and, after the signing of the Armistice, 12th Infantry Brigade was disbanded in January 1919.

Reactivated for the Second World War, 12th Infantry Brigade embarked for France on 5 October 1939 to bolster the French Army against an expected German attack. At this time the Brigade consisted of the 2nd Battalion, The Royal Fusiliers; 1st Battalion, The Royal Lancashire Regiment; and 6th Battalion, The Black Watch. After fighting a desperate rearguard action, the Brigade withdrew along with the rest of the British Expeditionary Force and was evacuated from the French beaches at Dunkirk on 30 May 1940.

In February 1943, the Brigade was moved to North Africa. The Brigade fought at Oved Zara, Medjez Plain, and Tunis, quickly defeating the German Forces. With North Africa taken care of, 12th Brigade turned its attention to Italy, disembarking at Naples in February 1944 to join the attacking forces around the town of Cassino. The subsequent fall of Cassino allowed the Allied forces to advance North driving the Germans out of Italy. The Brigade moved North, eventually heading for a 'rest and training' period in Greece. After the end of the war, the Brigade was again disbanded in March 1947.

After reforming in April 1956 as 12th Infantry Brigade, the Brigade spent time in the UK and Germany changing roles several times as an Infantry Brigade Group, a Mechanized Brigade, the Osnabruck Garrison, and Task Force Delta. The last change was the product of the British Army of the Rhine (BAOR) experimenting with a major restructuring towards the end of the 1970s as it reorganized into 4 Divisions, each with 2 task force headquarters. These task forces could command any grouping of units from within their division and were designated sequentially Alpha through Hotel. The decision was made to terminate this change, and the Brigade was retitled as an armored brigade assigned to the 3rd (UK) Armoured Division in January 1981 until its disbandment in 1992, after the "Options for Change" initiative following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1990 and the dramatic reduction of the BAOR.

The Strategic Defence Review in 1998 saw the reformation of the brigade as 12th Mechanized Brigade. In September 1999, Headquarters 12th Mechanized Brigade formed in Montgomery Lines, Aldershot and deployed to Bosnia for a 6-month tour. On its return from Bosnia, the Brigade completed its formation in August 2000. It deployed in support of Operation Agricola in Kosovo in late 2002 and returned in 2003 to become the first brigade to bring the new Bowman communications system into service.

In 2005, the Brigade deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Telic's rotation 6. The Brigade returned from Iraq in November 2005. Then in the spring of 2007 deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Herrick's rotation 6. During its deployment for Operation Herrick's rotation 6, 12th Mechanized Brigade was the first non-specialist Brigade to operate in Helmand Province in Southern Afghanistan.

The 12th Mechanized Brigade deployed to Afghanistan again in April 2012, becoming the lead formation of British forces in Helmand province in support of Operation Herrick's rotation 16, having taken over from 20th Armoured Brigade. For that deployment the Brigade was also joined by the 1st Royal Tank Regiment.




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