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Strike Brigade 4th Mechanized Brigade
4th Armoured Brigade
"The Black Rats"

Under the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review a modernised division would be centered on the 3rd (UK) Division, organised with four brigades of two Armoured infantry and two Strike, rather than three Armoured infantry as previously. A significant uplift in capability, it would hold one of each at high readiness, rather than the previous single armoured infantry brigade. From this, in times of crisis, the Army would be able to deploy a credible division of three brigades.

The first Strike Brigade would operate from Catterick and Salisbury Plain and would be composed of the Household Cavalry Regiment, The King’s Royal Hussars, the 1st Battalion Scots Guards and The Highlanders, 4th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland. A number of Royal Logistic Corps (RLC) and Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineer (REME) units would be allocated to provide close support logistic support, beginning with 1 Regiment RLC and 1 Close Support Battalion REME.

The 4th Mechanized Brigade was 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 Catterick, North Yorkshire, England commands, controls, force generates and trains units for operations in support of 3rd (UK) Division and the British Army's Land Component.

4th Mechanized Brigade was first formed in the deserts of North Africa at the start of the Second World War. They fought in a series of major tank battles, including El Alamein, under the command of the original Desert Rats, the 7th Armoured Division. It was at that time that Brigade troops adopted the Jerboa or 'Black Rat' emblem. The Black Rats were subsequently involved in the Invasion of Sicily and fighting in Italy before taking part in the Battle of Normandy and the advance through Belgium, Holland and into Germany.

What had become the 4th Armoured Brigade subsequently became part of the 1st (UK) Armoured Division, an element of the British Army of the Rhine (BAOR). When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1990, the decision was made to dramatically reduce the size of the BAOR, leaving the 1st (UK) Armoured Division as the only British Army division in Germany. The 4th Armoured Brigade, headquartered at Osnabrück, Germany, remained an element of the Division. As part of the 1st (UK) Armoured Division, the Brigade took part in the First Gulf War and also completed a number of tours to the Balkans during the 1990s. The Brigade was eventually retitled as a mechanized brigade, initially remaining part of the 1st (UK) Armoured Division.

Following the beginning of coalition operations in Iraq in 2003, the Black Rats deployed there twice in support of rotations for Operation Telic. The Brigade also deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Herrick's rotation 12 in 2010. By 2011, the Brigade had been reassigned to the 3rd (UK) Division and relocated to Catterick, North Yorkshire, England.

The Brigade took over as the lead formation of British troops in Helmand Province, Afghanistan in October 2012 in support of Operation Herrick's rotation 17. During their tour the Black Rats were to focus on working in support of the Afghan Army's 3rd Brigade, 215th Corps and all elements of the Afghan National Police in their mission to bring security and stability to the region. In addition to the Brigade's own units, they were joined by 40 Commando, Royal Marines.

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Page last modified: 16-12-2016 19:20:53 ZULU