Local BBC Sites

Page last updated at 11:36 GMT, Friday, 3 September 2010 12:36 UK
Lieutenant General Sir Richard Shirreff introduces ARRC

Lieutenant General Sir Richard Shirreff
Sir Richard assumed command of the ARRC in December 2007

The Commander of the ARRC has said he is "really heartened" by the welcome they've received at Innsworth.

About 2,000 people have been moved from Germany to their new headquarters at Imjin Barracks.

On Thursday, 2 September, 2010, an historic Beating the Retreat ceremony was held to mark the new lease of life at the former RAF base.

Lieutenant General Sir Richard Shirreff answers a few questions to explain who they are and what they do.

What is the ARRC?

The Allied Rapid Reaction Corps (ARRC) is a headquarters and a number of affiliated formations from across the Nato alliance.

What we have here in Imjin Barracks is the headquarters and the ARRC support battalion which provides our basic life support and administrative needs.

The headquarters is British led - 60% British staff and 40% from 14 other nations (about 450 staff within this headquarters).

Our task is to command on operations wherever Nato decides that we go. We have operational experience from the Balkans, Bosnia and Kosovo and most recently in Afghanistan.

If we're not on operations, we train, we think, we experiment and we work towards preparing ourselves to deploy and I think we're widely recognised in Nato as being very much at the cutting edge of this complex business of command on operations in 21st Century conflict.

We're delighted to be here. It's a lovely area and an area with great resonance for military service and a glorious history of military commitment and military service.
Lt Gen Sir Richard Shirreff

Do you think the public in Gloucestershire understand your work?

I think command and control is probably a pretty arcane subject. I think the public understand infantry or regular battalions and they understand soldiers.

We are a pretty specialised aspect of that but I'm confident that, in time, as we settle into Gloucestershire and our neighbourhood here and the more we interact with people, the more people will begin to understand what we're about.

Is your arrival a completely positive story for Gloucestershire?

I think it is a really positive story for Gloucestershire and a really positive story for the ARRC. We're delighted to be here. It's a lovely area and an area with great resonance for military service and a glorious history of military commitment and military service.

It has not been straight-forward - none of these moves are. It's a complex business. Effectively we've moved round about 2,000 people - that's the size of a small township - from our well-found base in Germany where we were really well supported by the local community and where we were very happy.

To re-establish all those in Innsworth is going to be a challenge but I'm really heartened by the warmth of the welcome by the local community and I'm sure as we work together we will be able to re-establish that rapport that we enjoyed in Germany.

What do you think of the base?

ARRC in training in Germany
The Allied Rapid Reaction Corp is made up of Troops from 15 Nations

This is a good base for us and it suits us very well.

There has been a fair amount of infrastructure work to adapt the headquarters building, put in the right communication systems and the right computer systems.

We've also had to build single living accommodation for our unmarried soldiers, garages for our vehicles and a briefing centre.

Fundamentally we're building on sound and solid foundations left behind by the RAF and it's actually a very very suitable base for a headquarters like the ARRC.

What's a typical day like for you as the Lieutenant General?

I'm very focussed on maintaining our profile in Nato so there's a lot of communication, a lot of visits, a lot of travel.

There's also a fair amount of planning to be put together - we are, as you know, preparing to deploy to Afghanistan - and looking ahead to the future development of this headquarters.

It's a complex business and we have to get our heads around some pretty complex concepts here so I can assure you the day fills up pretty rapidly.

What are the recent conflicts that ARRC has been involved with?

The most recent involvement was in Afghanistan where the ARRC was between 2006-2007. The ARRC was warned for Iraq but didn't deploy there and before that it was the Balkans.

We are very much preparing to contribute again to the campaign in Afghanistan next year. Most of the staff will deploy to Afghanistan for between six months and 12 months to augment the Isaf (International Security Assistance Force) joint command in Kabul and that's obviously the focus of a lot of interest, a lot of attention and a lot of training at the moment.

Soldiers prepare for Imjin move
24 May 10 |  Gloucestershire
In pictures: ARRC
24 May 10 |  People & Places
Imjin troops get advice on county
25 Aug 09 |  Gloucestershire
RAF Innsworth renamed
21 Nov 08 |  England


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific