Goodbye To The Royal Scots Borderers

 One of the revelations in the recently published MoD document ‘Future Soldier’ that has received relatively little publicity has been the demise of the 1st Battalion of the Royal Regiment of Scotland, The Royal Scots Borderers, known as 1 SCOTS in army parlance. On December 1st this year they became the 1st Battalion, The Rangers (1 RANGERS), part of the new four battalion Ranger Regiment.

Sadly, this is yet another step in the dismantling of the historical, some would say traditional, Scottish infantry regiments, and we need to go back a few years to get a proper handle on what’s actually going on here. At the end of the twentieth century there were six regular infantry regiments in the administrative grouping known as the Scottish Division; they were the Royal Scots, the Royal Highland Fusiliers (RHF), the King’s Own Scottish Borderers (KOSB), the Black Watch, The Highlanders, and the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders. These were themselves in most cases the result of previous amalgamations.

In the late 1990s the idea was mooted that the Royal Scots and KOSB should amalgamate, an idea driven largely by poor recruiting figures at the time and the fact that their traditional recruiting areas were contiguous. Although this decision was temporarily rescinded, it was eventually implemented as part of the ‘Options for Change’ reforms, and on 1st August 2006 the traditional Scottish regiments were amalgamated into the amorphous Royal Regiment of Scotland. As part of that process the Royal Scots and KOSB joined and became The Royal Scots Borderers, 1st Battalion, Royal Regiment of Scotland (RRS).

This was all driven through by the MoD and the Chief of the General Staff at the time, General Sir Mike Jackson, in the teeth of a fairly energetic and vociferous campaign to keep the traditional Scottish regiments in which I was intimately involved. In the end, aided by a fairly supine Council of Colonels Commandant of the Scottish regiments, the forces of darkness prevailed. One of our main arguments had been that it was easier, politically and emotionally, to cut one unit from a multi-battalion regiment (which the RRS became) than it was to axe one of the historic regiments.

And so it has come to pass. Only six years after the formation of the RRS, the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders (5 SCOTS) was reduced to single company strength – Balaklava Company – to be used for ceremonial duties in Scotland. Thus were the descendants of the famous “Thin Red Line” of Crimean War folklore and every war fought by Britain since reduced to what amounts to no more than a small support unit for VisitScotland.

Now it has happened again. The Borderers, 1 SCOTS, has become one of the four regular infantry battalions from which the new Ranger Regiment will be “seeded” as it is stood up. In time anyone from across the army can apply to join the Rangers, and if they successfully complete an eight week, two part assessment process then recruits will be posted to the new Regiment and undergo a further eight months of additional training before they are good to go.

Whether the Ranger Regiment will live up to the hype remains to be seen, but the current Chief of the General Staff (CGS), General Sir Mark Carleton-Smith, has more or less staked his reputation on it being a success. For Scottish readers, however, a few more details of what this actually means for us should perhaps be underlined. First of all, obviously the RRS loses another battalion, down from an initial five to three plus one company. On top of this, each Ranger battalion will be only 250 strong, half that of 1 SCOTS.

Furthermore, the new battalion will, as far as I can ascertain, sport the grey beret and other accoutrements designated for it, and there would appear to be no record left of its previous “Scottishness”, subject to confirmation at time of writing. So, essentially, another Scottish infantry battalion has been lopped off the order of battle in a smoke and mirrors operation that would make any magician proud.

Does any of this matter? Well, it depends on your point of view. I have always believed that those currently serving are the custodians of the history of those who went before and the future of those who are yet to come. Our military should not be changed and re-organised at the whim of those currently in command; after all, they work for us, the electorate, not the other way around.

What is not in doubt is that the Scottish element of the British army has once again been diminished. What is also clear is that, up to this point, no politician of note from any of our political parties has said anything about it publically. Does it just not matter to them any more?

(First published in the UK Defence Journal in December 2021)

Goodbye to the Royal Scots Borderers (ukdefencejournal.org.uk)

Meddling Americans are the real threat to peace in Northern Ireland – DAME ARLENE FOSTER

THIS week the people of Northern Ireland will be subjected to the most outrageous piece of grandstanding that they have witnessed for a long time, and believe me when I say that’s quite the claim!
By DAME ARLENE FOSTER
07:32, Wed, May 25, 2022 | UPDATED: 13:11, Wed, May 25, 2022

Yes, this week on his tour around Europe to wreck what is left of community relations in Northern Ireland, Richie Neal, long-time Sinn Fein supporter will visit and tell us all that the Protocol cannot be changed and if it is then Armageddon, or something similar, will surely follow.

Now, who is Richard Neal?

Well, he has been the US Congressman for Massachusetts since 1989 and has long had an interest in “Irish” politics because he has long been an advocate for a United Ireland and hopes to see it happening in his lifetime – he is now 73 years old.

During his tenure he has worked closely with the Friends of Sinn Fein in America.

He has planted trees in memory of IRA hunger strikers and also commended their memory, despite the unalterable fact that the IRA were terrorists.

Neal also supported the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins who snubbed church leaders in Ireland by refusing to attend at interdenominational service to mark 100 years of Northern Ireland.

Hardly surprising when you know that Neal stated that Northern Ireland was not a reality but was a boundary set up by military force…

In his one of his latest offerings, Neal boasted about the changing demographics in Northern Ireland, in that there will soon, in terms of religious denominations, be more Roman Catholics than declared church going Protestants.

According to Neal’s thinking that means that a United Ireland is inevitable because more Roman Catholics means more people who want to abolish Northern Ireland.

This is just such base sectarianism and factually incorrect as there are many Roman Catholics who see their future not in some backwater of the European Union but in the fifth largest economy of the world with a strong welfare, education and healthcare system, free from bureaucracy and able to take sovereign decisions.

But of course Richie Neal along with his fellow traveller Nancy Pelosi and indeed the embattled President Biden have all bought into the Sinn Fein spin which has been so prevalent in the United States.

It seems to me Richie Neal has bought into the many lies and misrepresentations of what went on in my country during “the Troubles”.

In Sinn Fein’s skewed world, the IRA were the good guys and “the six counties” was occupied by the Brits.

I have endured many events in Washington where those of us from Northern Ireland are still treated to “Brits out” slogans at black-tie dinners, but because we are part of the problem, i.e., not Irish republicans, we just have to sit in the audience and listen to their outlandish, offensive slogans.

And let’s be honest, for too long the UK Embassy in Washington has allowed this rewriting of what happened in part of the UK, without challenge and that is so shameful and hugely damaging.

So, there you go, this is the man who is leading a cross party delegation to tell the Brits what to do.

Since 2019 Richie Neal has also been the powerful Chairman of the Ways and Means committee in Congress, second only to Speaker Pelosi in seniority, but that doesn’t prevent him from showing his partiality.

The delegation Richie Neal leads has been to Europe, simply to strengthen EU resolve against the UK proposals, (as if that were needed).

Our poor Foreign Secretary had to endure them last week and they are now in the Republic of Ireland updating their speaking notes for when they come to Northern Ireland on Thursday.

The United States, I have said before, has often been helpful In Northern Ireland, but since this Biden administration arrived it has been disastrous.

They claim they are protecting the Belfast Agreement when it is clear for all to see that they are only interested in looking after those who would seek to wipe Northern Ireland from the map.

I often wonder if those who are pronouncing on the Belfast Agreement have actually read it.

For example, we are often told that the agreement does not allow a border – where does it say that in the agreement? Spoiler alert – it doesn’t.

The reality is of course is that we do have a border. We have a different currency, VAT regime, customs system and a different legal jurisdiction to give a few examples.

The border which the Americans allude to is the militarised border which was there as a result of the IRA campaign of terrorism.

The military border was there to stop Semtex not sausages and, as I have said many times before, the issues which arose after the UK left the EU could have been dealt with by alternative arrangements if there had been a will by the Irish Government and the EU, but there wasn’t.

Thank God Boris has finally taken on European Court of Justice, says DAME ARLENE FOSTER

IS the Government finally going to deal with the iniquitous NI protocol? It certainly appears so. At long last we have published legislation which reasserts the Acts of Union and by doing so gives primacy to the single market of the United Kingdom.
By DAME ARLENE FOSTER
18:22, Mon, Jun 13, 2022 | UPDATED: 22:09, Mon, Jun 13, 2022

The legislation is important as it is long overdue recognition by the Prime Minister and his Government that the Protocol must be replaced with arrangements that respect Northern Ireland’s place within the United Kingdom.

As it stands the protocol endangers jobs, drives up costs for customers at a time when we are facing a cost-of-living crisis generally and reduces choice on our shelves.

Those who never accepted the UK’s decision to leave the EU will say that this legislation endangers devolution in NI.

The Remainer alliance in Northern Ireland (Sinn Fein, SDLP and the Alliance party) will tell you that they want to keep the Protocol as is, even though it is damaging cross community relations and costing our economy dearly – the Road Haulage Association for example tell us that haulage costs have risen by 27 percent as a direct result of the protocol.

In Northern Ireland we have a system of government under the Belfast agreement that only works under consensus, that is, that a majority in both communities agree on the way forward.

In January 2020, the Assembly and Executive was reconstituted after a three-year boycott by Sinn Fein under an agreement called ‘New Decade, New Approach’.

The agreement was the basis of starting devolution again and in that agreement, there was a commitment by the Government to restore Northern Ireland’s place in the UK internal market.

It has taken two and half years but at last the Government is taking action to do just that – and remember all the parties in Northern Ireland subscribe to the New Decade, New Approach agreement – something the Remainer alliance conveniently never mention.

Not one unionist representative in the Assembly supports the Protocol, and because we have a system of power sharing not majority rule this needs to be fixed.

Progress is only made in NI with the support of nationalists and unionists and devolution is not sustainable so long as the sea border between Great Britain and Northern Ireland remains.

Shocking: BBC doesn’t even try to hide its bias anymore, says DAME ARLENE FOSTER

FOR readers in Great Britain “the Glorious 12th” does of course refer to 12th August and the start of the shooting season for Grouse.
By DAME ARLENE FOSTER
13:01, Mon, Jun 13, 2022 | UPDATED: 21:52, Mon, Jun 13, 2022

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For those of us in Northern Ireland however, the glorious 12th is the celebration of the Glorious Revolution through the 12th July demonstrations. As someone from the Orange/British community in this part of the UK, this is always a part of the year I look forward to – family members come home from other parts of the UK and beyond and the cultural expression is loud and proud to celebrate the victory of William at the Battle of the Boyne.

The 12th celebrations are the largest cultural event in Northern Ireland with tens of thousands taking part and hundreds of thousands more watching at the 18 host venues.

Every year the BBC in Northern Ireland produce a live broadcast for an hour on the morning of the 12th, capturing the pageantry and atmosphere.

They then also have a programme usually quite late in the evening depicting events of the day.

This year, having had no 12th due to covid in 2020 and only small local gatherings last year, the BBC have decided not to resume the live broadcast.

This comes on the back of minimal coverage of the Orange centenary parade a few weeks ago with 25,000 on parade and over 100,000 spectators and the disgraceful use of the Irish republic’s flag to represent NI in the BBC coverage of the Jubilee concert in London, for which the BBC had to apologise.

You might ask in such a well-planned production how such a faux-pas could happen? I think those of us in NI have our own views on that.

Many people cannot attend 12th July parades for a range of reasons.

Many are housebound due to illness or old age, while others are in nursing homes – they are the people who will be impacted most by this decision.

My own mother loves watching the live parade every year. She is more or less housebound now, and cannot get out to watch in person. The BBC in Northern Ireland is not however apparently concerned about the likes of her.

The BBC is meant to be a public service broadcaster but they are not providing a public service in NI to those unable to make the parade.

BBC NI has pandered to Irish nationalism for years, barely hiding their distaste for the unionist community and it is little wonder that many in the community are asking why they pay a license fee.

As you can imagine the decision by the BBC has been met with distress and disgust.

The Orange Order in their statement said: “It is hard to accept this as anything other than a further snub to the wider Protestant, Unionist and Loyalist Community and our culture.”

Meanwhile, the historian who fronted the BBC live coverage for 10 years is scathing of the decision. Dr Clifford Smyth said: “Whoever is behind this hasn’t thought the decision through very well. You see the whole history of Ulster in the Twelfth parade — it is depicted on the iconic banners. It’s essential that those of a different political outlook are exposed to that story.”

He concluded by saying: “It seems the BBC has abandoned balance.”

The future of the BBC is something actively being discussed at present nationally and I have no doubt that MPs from Northern Ireland will let the Culture Secretary know what they think of this particular decision, but it greatly saddens me that the BBC has become so out of touch with the wider population of the UK, – this decision is just the latest indicator of that.

Oh yes, the good old metropolitan elite are catered for in spades but when it comes to public service for the rest of us, well we just have to suck up the wokery that has now invaded this national institution.

The only part of the BBC which is now a “national treasure” is the World service and the role it provides.

The coverage of international events is also worth investing in, such as the coverage of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Government should explore how these parts of the BBC can be preserved and enhanced whilst getting rid of the regressive license fee, as many of us do not go to the BBC for news anymore.

SKIN AND HYDRATION – Dr Sarah Schenker

Healthy skin is often described as glowing or dewy and that is because healthy skin is always slightly moist. By contrast, dehydrated skin means that the skin is lacking water and will appear dull, overall tone and complexion may appear uneven, and fine lines are more noticeable.
Signs of dehydrated skin include:
• redness and itchiness
• dullness
• dark under-eye circles
• sunken eyes
• “shadows” around the face (especially under the eyes and around the nose)
• increased incidence or appearance of fine lines and surface wrinkles
The body loses approximately 1-2 litres of water per day through normal bodily processes. When we sweat, we can lose a large amount of water from the body depending on factors such as temperature, exercise duration and intensity. The skin also loses small amounts of water continuously throughout the day even in ambient temperatures and without exercising. This loss of water makes skin look moist and dewy. However, if the body starts to get dehydrated, water is preserved in the body meaning less water is lost through the skin. Eventually, the skin will have a dry and wrinkly appearance. Therefore, maintaining a good hydration status throughout the day, allows the skin to stay moist.
Skin has its own built in hydration system which involves blood vessels supplying skin with water and electrolytes. Electrolytes are the minerals potassium, sodium, calcium, chloride, phosphate, and magnesium and they have the ability to attract water. Once mixed with water, electrolytes help conduct electricity in the skin, enabling cells to regulate pH levels and keep the body’s hydration system working properly. They also help skin to retain water.
This means that as well as drinking a sufficient amount of water each day to maintain good hydration, a good intake of minerals in the diet is also crucial for healthy skin.
Good sources of the electrolyte minerals are as follows;
• potassium – beans and lentils, root vegetables such as parsnips and beetroot, green leafy veg such as spinach, citrus fruits and juice, bananas and avocados.
• calcium – milk and dairy products, nuts and seeds, fish with edible bones, green leafy veg and beans and lentils.
• phosphate – lean meats such as chicken, turkey and pork, seafood, dairy products, nuts and seeds, beans and lentils and wholegrains.
• magnesium – green leafy veg, nuts and seeds, beans and lentils and wholegrains.
Sodium and chloride are easily obtained through having a small amount of salt in the diet. It is recommended that adults consume no more than 6g of salt per day.
Another important aspect in preventing skin from becoming dehydrated is to protect its barrier function. The skin’s outermost layer, called the stratum corneum, prevents excessive water loss, holding in water and electrolytes and protecting skin cells from environmental pollutants and allergens.
When this barrier function is compromised, skin loses too much water and may become inflamed. This can be caused by the breakdown of collagen, a protein that makes up about three quarters of our skin. When collagen breaks down, fine lines and wrinkles appear and is further exacerbated by dehydration.
As we age, the body produces less and lower quality collagen. There is a 2% reduction in collagen every year from the age of 25 and by the age of 45, there is a 50% reduction in collagen production. The visible signs of aging are due to a deficiency of collagen and directly correlate to lack of hydration and reduced skin elasticity. However, collagen supplements can be used to improve skin elasticity and hydration.
How to tell if your skin is dehydrated
There is a simple pinch test that can be performed at home to determine your skin’s hydration level.
Take a small portion of your skin around the cheek area and squeeze lightly. If you notice any wrinkling and if the skin doesn’t bounce back after you let go, then your skin may be dehydrated.
How to treat dehydrated skin
Dehydration is treatable with lifestyle changes. Symptoms of mild dehydration include a dry mouth, poor concentration and even headaches. Thirst is not always a good indicator as we may not register sensations of thirst until the body is already around two to three per cent dehydrated. That’s why it’s important to get into the habit of drinking enough water on a daily basis – that means on average about two litres a day, taken in small regular amounts throughout the day. Requirements will go up if the weather is hot or if you are exerting yourself through hard physical work or exercise.
It’s also important not to drink too much water, as this can lead to a loss in minerals. Alongside your 2 litres, eating water-rich fruits and vegetables such as celery and watermelon can also help increase your intake.
You can also treat dehydrated skin with the following diet and lifestyle changes:
• Avoid alcohol or only drink in moderation.
• Watch your intake of caffeine, large or excessive amounts of caffeine can have a diuretic effect.
• Stop smoking.
• Drink water before, during and after an exercise session.
• Get plenty of sleep.
• Eat a balanced and varied diet that includes plenty of water rich foods.