After 22 years of struggle, republicans are still resisting British rule in Ireland. Throughout this period republicans have developed (through experience, analysis, training etc) the capability to not only resist British rule but eventually to defeat it. By the same token the British have been able to develop the expertise of their own forces to counter the resistance to their rule in Ireland. As republicans, committed to a successful conclusion to the struggle we cannot afford to underestimate any of these forces. The objective of this paper is to examine and obtain a better understanding of one of these forces, namely, the Ulster Defence Regiment.
The UDR cannot be simply pushed aside as a "bunch of bigots" or thought of just as a "Dad's Army" type regiment. In the 21 years since its formation, the British have continually expanded and developed the role of the UDR in the Six Counties as an instrument to counter nationalist resistance. Over the years the UDR has become a more professional and better trained body of men and women. This constantly emerging degree of professionalism was/is designed to fit in to the British counter-insurgency strategy in the Six Counties and thus better serve their wider political interests. To provide a clearer understanding of the raison d'etre of the UDR we shall examine different aspects of the regiment. This will not only provide a valuable insight in to their structures and functioning but will also provide a better understanding and appreciation of how this locally recruited militia is essential to British strategy.
We intend to examine the UDR by breaking it down in to areas such as:Development,training and resources
Operational and political role
Ranks and structures
Loyalist collusion and infiltration.
However first we need to put the UDR in its proper context in regards to Britain's long standing policy of having a locally recruited militia in Ireland, particularly in the 6 Counties.
2. Historical Background
Britain has a long history of recruiting a local militia in Ireland to serve its interests and crush opposition to its rule. In 1867 the Irish Constabulary was renamed the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) by Queen Victoria in recognition of their success in dealing with the Fenian rising. After partition in 1921 the RIC in the 6 Counties was renamed the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) and another new local force was created the Ulster Special Constabulary (USC) or as they were commonly known the B Specials.
The B Specials remained in existence until 1970 when the UDR itself was formed. The B Specials were, a paramilitary force, originally created as a part time force to man road checks and
mount patrols. They were trained and armed with rifles
revolvers, bayonets and sub-machine guns which were kept in their homes. The membership of this force was drawn exclusively from the Loyalist/unionist community who have traditionally fulfiled a
"Garrison" role in Ireland, which helps provide the man power for the local militia which have served both British and Unionist interests.
For centuries British and Unionist politicians have created and cultivated a "siege" mentality among Protestants ie that protestants are under a grave threat from a united/Roman Catholic Ireland. This carefully fostered perception has created a sectarian mentality that was and still is the fertile recruiting ground for the local militias. Present day loyalist/unionist see the UDR as the legitimate instrument of for maintaining the Union and the final guarantor against a united Ireland. Much the same way as the Specials were seen as the mid wife of the new unionist/Orange state.
Of course from a British point of view there are other sound political and operational reasons for use of a local militia. It allows the British government to reduce British casualties. By putting the likes of the UDR or the B Specials in the front line they have been able to reduce the number of British troops serving in the 6 Counties. This has propaganda value in Britain of deterring public opinion away from opposition from the war in Ireland, and internationally the British can portray the conflict here as an "internal" problem between the "warring" communities while they still stand above it all as neutral peace keepers. Thereby trying to legitimise their involvement in Ireland. One only has to analyse the rational behind the adoption of the Ulsterisation policy from 1976 onwards as another such development of this strategy.
On another front the use of a local militia has always been of vital importance to British intelligence gathering operations. Later on we will examine in more detail the specific role of the
UDR in intelligence gathering.
Whereas the B Specials were created to serve British interests, they also served the interests of unionism itself, interests which do not always coincide with those in Britain. Unionists saw the Specials as "their" police force. The close relationship between unionism/loyalism and local militias is seen by the use of the Orange Order in recruiting and the wholehearted support given to them by unionist politicians of all shades. The formation the Specials allowed the unionist regime to give legitimacy to loyalist paramilitary forces by making sections of these forces the "legitimate" forces of law and order. This is most evident with the formation of the B Specials when whole units of the UVF of that period became "Special" platoons.
The Specials were initially a blunt instrument to stifle the large nationalist community that was left in the 6 Counties after partition. They were notorious amongst the nationalist community for their harassment and violent techniques. The Specials frequently took part in pogroms against nationalists. They were involved in numerous acts of murder, beatings, arson etc., whilst on and off duty. The activities of the Specials should not be put down to the fact that they were an ill disciplined and ill trained paramilitary force. The Specials served a specific role. They were indiscriminately used against nationalist to terrorise them into submission in to the Unionist state. With the
reputation for blatant protestant partisanship, naked violence and open loyalist connections the Specials were universally detested by the nationalists whether they held moderate or militant views. However their role in ushering in the new state free from any significant nationalist resistance has to be viewed as successful.
The oppressive nature of the unionist state, and the role of the Specials in maintaining it, came under international scrutiny through the events of 1968/69. This was the time when the Civil Rights Movement was formed and took to the streets in peaceful and non violent demonstrations against blatant discrimination and oppression of nationalists. The Specials were often used to break these demonstrations. They went into nationalist areas and ran amok destroying property and beating people which resulted in the death of several innocent people. The nationalists through both the need to protect themselves and no longer accepting second class citizenship fought against both the Specials and the RUC. This resulted in widespread rioting breaking out all over the 6 counties especially in Belfast and Derry. With the presence of the international media, the unionist regime was unable to continue to suppress the nature of the 6 County state.
This failure of the Stormont regime forced the British establishment to take over much of the responsibility for the sectarian statelet that it created and underpinned for 50 years. During that time successive British governments had consciously ignored the blatantly undemocratic nature of the unionist regime and turned a blind eye to the repression and intimidation used to ensure its existence and maintenance.
Therefore contrary to the revisionism in some quarters today the British government did not send troops in to the North in 1969 to defend civil rights marchers and those under attack in nationalist areas. It had to deploy British troops because the local forces were in such disarray and totally discredited in the eyes of the world. In recognition of this situation the British Government set about re-organising their local militia paralleled with re-establishing the political status quo. Despite change in name and appearance the reality was to remain the same on both fronts.
3. Formation and Development
The British government appointed a team to oversee the re-organisation of its local militia in the Six Counties. It was headed by a Lord Hunt chosen because of his experience of "police" responsibilities in colonial situations. The Hunt Report, published October 1969, recommended the re-organisation of the RUC and the creation of a 1500 strong RUC reserve. It also recommended the phasing out of the B Specials and said they should be replaced by a new part-time military force, to be known as the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR). The force was to be a 6000 strong regiment of the British Army and under the control of the British GOC. Its role was to support the British Army on purely military duties in support of the RUC. There were stipulations
within the legislation which set up the UDR that stated it was not to be used outside the Six Counties, nor was it to be given responsibility for crowd control and riot situations.
Operationally the UDR was to support the RUC and British Army by guarding key points and installations (Crown force bases, power stations, industrial sites, transmitters), carrying out patrols
and operating checkpoints. The UDR was liable to call up on full-time basis for a limited time period in order to release more regular British troops from static duties for offensive operations. This happened at the time of internment, August 1971, and during "Operation Motorman" in July 1972.
The UDR became operational on April 1 1970. At the outset the UDR consisted of seven battalions, one for each county and one for
Belfast:1st UDR (Antrim)
2nd UDR (Armagh)
3th UDR (Down)
4th UDR (Fermanagh)
5th UDR (Derry)
6th UDR (Tyrone)
7th UDR (Belfast)
Of its original membership of 2,440, "ex"-B Specials numbered 1,423, many of them transferring en masse. At the start, responding to encouragement from so-called moderate nationalist politicians and Catholic clergy, 946 Catholics joined the regiment. Within a year the majority of them had resigned owing to a combination of being made to feel out of place in a loyalist
militia and serving in such a force while nationalist areas were subject to increasing oppression by the British Army and loyalist violence. As Catholics were forced out UDR strength was increased to a peak of 9,000 in 1972 when four additional battalions were established:
8th UDR (Tyrone)
9th UDR (Antrim)
10th UDR (Belfast)
11th UDR (Craigavon).
The following year the recruitment of women into the UDR started. They were known as Green Finches and were employed on clerical duties, operating radios and telephones. One of their major operational requirements was to search women and children in city and town centres and during Crown force searches. Today there are 700 women fully integrated throughout the regiment serving on a full time and part-time basis.
Despite the increase in numbers, in the early `70s neither the UDR or the RUC were considered ready or capable for front line combat against ONH and its support base. The UDR was still predominantly part-time and confined to a static back up role to the British Army. Its military training and capability, transport and communications were totally inadequate, and UDR barracks were still in the process of being fortified.
Therefore throughout the early `70s it was regular British Army troops who were in the forefront of the war, and owing to the effectiveness of ONH the British government was forced to commit even larger numbers of troops, reaching a peak strength of 22,000 in 1972. In that year alone 103 British soldiers were killed and many more injured. For a number of reasons not least to reduce the level of British casualties, the British government in the mid-1970s devised a wide ranging counter-insurgency strategy aimed at destroying the republican struggle. A major element of
the strategy was a policy known as "Ulsterisation". Its main aim was the development and organisation of the locally recruited forces - the RUC and the UDR - to do more of the fighting while gradually reducing the number of British troops deployed here.
From 1976 the RUC was to have the primary role (often referred to as "police primacy") in combating the republican struggle. For this task the RUC underwent major re-organisation, retraining and were re-equipped with modern weaponry, armour and communications.
In tandem with these changes in the RUC a number of changes were initiated within the UDR which were designed to give the regiment an expanded role and greater responsibility in the war. Rather
than the "regular" British army providing the first line of military support to the RUC the UDR was to be developed to take on that role. Among the important requirements necessary to fulfil this task the full-time element within each battalion had to be increased to meet this new level of operational demand.
Today half the UDR strength is full-time and each battalion has at least one full-time company. Higher standards of military efficiency and training were emphasised, and for the first time it became the practice that UDR personnel were sent to British Army bases in England and Scotland for improved training. During this period also, though kept secret from the public, the UDR was allocated its first role in intelligence, both in gathering it and having access to it. The importance in UDR members as collectors of intelligence in nationalist areas while going about their daily "civilian" lives was given official recognition and structure. This was at a time when many UDR members, in collusion with loyalist paramilitaries, were participating in a sectarian murder campaign against the nationalist community.
As the full-time strength and military efficiency increased the UDR's operational role became more mobile and varied. Static duties were reduced to a minimum and mobile operations became the norm. Transportation was improved and helicopter use increased to ferry UDR patrols into border areas and other areas considered too dangerous for vehicles. The UDR was equipped with up-to-date weaponry and were provided with a modern communication equipment which allowed them to staff their own operations rooms. UDR battalions now had round-the-clock capability and by 1980 8 of the 11 battalions had taken control over their own "Tactical Areas of Operation" (TAOR). In territorial terms these corresponded with RUC divisional areas and meant that the UDR was the main backup to the RUC in 85% of the Six Counties. Operationally it signalled a reversal of roles in that UDR battalions took over responsibility for the British Army in providing the first line of military support and any British troops in these areas were now under UDR command. In 1983 the RUC re-organised its divisional areas, reducing them from 16 to 12; and in the following year the UDR restructured its battalions in line with this. Eleven battalions were reduced to nine through two amalgamations: 1st UDR and 9th UDR (both Antrim) merged to form 1/9 UDR; and 7 UDR joined with 10 UDR (both Belfast) to form 7/10 UDR.
Throughout the late 1980s further measures were implemented to improve and professionalise the long-term military capability of the UDR. The number of full-timers was increased and the extent
of their training widened. Basic training for part-timers was
extended from nine to fourteen days, all to be completed within the first three months of service. An extra British Army training officer was attached to each UDR battalion to assist this training programme. During this period also the UDR set about developing their own officers' corp. Intensive six-month courses at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst were offered and existing officer encouraged to widen their military experience through voluntary attachments to other British Army units. As part of this development sixth-formers in some schools here were approached and the idea promoted that they undertake a long-term career as an officer with the UDR.
The development of the UDR has been an ongoing process and it will be taken a stage further this year (1992) when the UDR merges with the "Royal Irish Rangers" which will be an integral
part of the British Army. This measure will be dealt with in our conclusion but now we will examine the ranks and structures of the UDR.
4. Rank and Operational Structure
The UDR is structured and ranked on similar lines as the British army.
The Commander of the UDR, a brigadier, has always been a regular British officer. Each commander does a two year tour of duty. The present commander took up his place in December '90. The majority of key staff at the UDR HQ (Thievepal Barracks, Lisburn) and at each of the other Battalion HQ's are also regular British officers. They also do a two year tour of duty.
Operational command of the nine battalions is vested in 2 British army Brigadiers, who are respectively responsible for territorial areas roughly east and west of the River Bann. They work closely with the RUC Divisional commanders, who determine the scope and nature of military assistance that is required in each area. Soldiers, whether UDR or otherwise are never formally under RUC command. Technically they are providing military assistance to the civil power, but under emergency legalisation exclusively applicable to the Six Counties they have the power to stop, check and search while carrying out their duties.
UDR battalions, 1/9 Antrim; 2 Armagh; 3 Down; 7/10 Belfast and 11 Craigavon are under the command of 39 BRIGADE based at Thievepal BArracks.
UDR battalions, 4 Fermanagh; 5 Derry; 6/8 Tyrone are under the command of 8 BRIGADE based at Ebrington Barracks, Derry City.
The Commanding Officer of each battalion is a regular Lieutenant-Colonel, who may have as many as ten other regular officers in the battalion. The Deputy Commander, a major is normally a part time member. The posts of Quarter Master and Training Officer are assigned to regular majors, as is the rank of regimental sergeant-major. With the advanced training of more full-time members, locally recruited soldiers occupy a number of posts such as intelligence, operations/administrative roles. They normally hold the rank of Captain.
Every UDR battalion (in a structure now standard) has a Headquarters company commanded by regular and full time officers.
A Company commander is normally a major or captain. While UDR battalions vary in size there may be up to five more operational companies; one or two full time, commanded by full time officers. The other companies are part time. The average size of company is 150 men and women. Each company further breaks down into platoons, sections and "bricks". A platoon commanded by a lieutenant is normally 35 strong; a platoon would have three sections (each 10 strong) commanded by a sergeant. THe basic operational is commonly known as a "brick" and varies in size according to the operational requirement.
The UDR has now settled into an operational pattern using three categories of soldiers.
1: Part-time: Part-timers make up half the strength of the regiment. Each soldier on average spends one night in three "out of bed". They average 10 duties per month; normally two night and two weekends. Periodically they undertake a 48 hour spell of "front line" operational deployment. Many of them take on extra duties; and part-timers are also subject to call up for full-time duty in an emergency situation.
2: Full-time: Full-time soldiers are on permanent operational deployment. They rarely serve least than a 70 hour week, with many of them clocking up 80 hours. When there is an emergence operational situation there basic eight hour period of duty can be extended indefinitely for the same day's pay. Like their part-time counter-parts they live away from the barracks.
3: Regulars: The third category of soldiers are those from the regular British army posted (seconded) to the UDR for tours of duty - normally lasting two years. Most of these secondments are from the officer class - usually from Major upwards. At any given time there are approximately 110 regular officers serving with the UDR.
NOTE: APPENDIX I COVERS THE RANK AND OPERATIONAL STRUCTURES AND
SHOULD BE USED WHEN COVERING THIS SECTION.
5. Tactical Areas of Responsibility
Having looked at the `rank and structures' of the UDR we shall now set out the, "Tactical Areas of Responsibility" (TAOR) in which each battalion operates.
1/9 UDR: This battalion is approx. 756 strong, and is responsible for a 700 square mile area encompassing south and mid Antrim, including the 153 square miles of Lough Neagh. The battalion HQ is at Steeple Road, Antrim Town. It has company bases in Ballymena, Carrick Fergus, Larne and Newtownabbey. The battalion carries out a wide range of duties, protecting key points such as Aldergrove and Larne Port/Ferry terminals. Due to the large TAOR area 1/9 is principally a vehicle based battalion.
2 UDR: This battalion has 456 men and women, and is responsible for 650 square kilometres of County Armagh - there are parts of South Armagh which the UDR does not patrol. The battalion HQ is Drumadd Barracks, Armagh City, with the company bases in Newry, Portadown and Glenanne. This was destroyed by ONH and will not be replaced. The first Greenfinch was attached to this battalion.
3 UDR: This battalion has responsibility for County Down, the HQ is Ballykinlar. (Ballykinlar is also the UDR's main training depot). There are company bases in Kilkeel and Rathfriland.
Ballykinlar was one of the first purpose-built operation centres and has its own drill hall, training and lecture rooms, operations' room, officers' mess and accommodation. The training depot is used extensively to train new recruits and provide other courses.
4 UDR: Covering Fermanagh, the battalion operates from the newest and best equipped battalion HQ at Grovernor Barracks, Enniskillen. Company bases are located at St Angelo and Lisnakea.
Many of their border patrols are deployed by helicopter; with vehicle use restricted to the more urban settings. The battalion operates water-borne patrols in Upper and Lower Lough Erne.
5 UDR (County Derry). This battalion has the largest TAOR - 8,556 square kilometres - an area stretching across three RUC divisions (and parts of 2 counties, Derry and Antrim). It extends from Rathlin Island in the north to the Loup area south of Magherfelt; and from Derry City in the west to the Antrim Coast Road in the east. The battalion HQ with one permanent cadre and 2 part-time rifle companies is located in Shackleton Barracks, Ballykelly. Shackleton Barracks also is the base for several regular British Army companies. There are further permanent cadre/part-time company bases in Coleraine, Magherfelt, Garvey and Ballymoney (County Antrim). There is a company of UDR personnel in Clooney Base, Derry - but the UDR do not patrol within Derry City itself.
6 UDR: This battalion has its HQ at St Lucia Barracks, Omagh and covers a large part of County Tyrone. It also has company bases at Castlederg and Clogher. Most of its operational controls has
to be covered cross-country on foot. Vehicle patrol is deemed high risk. In this battalion area UDR personnel in uniform have frequently been seen to use unmarked vehicles for transportation
7/10 UDR: The Belfast battalion is the largest infantry battalion in both the UDR and indeed the British army with its 1,100 members. They are organised into seven companies; three of them are full-time. Its HQ is Palace Barracks, Hollywood, with other company bases at Malone Road, Ladas Drive, Girdwood, Carryduff and Newtownards. The battalion operates throughout the greater Belfast area (though not in the nationalist areas of West Belfast) - carrying out a wide range of operational duties, searching ships at Belfast docks; securing the City Centre (day and night); and carrying out various search and guard duties. Several times a year the part-time companies are assigned duties out of the city in rural areas or along the border to broaden their operational experience.
8 UDR: This battalion is a fairly small unit by comparison with 7/10 UDR with under 500 soldiers. Battalion HQ is based in Dungannon with other companies based at Cookstown and on the border at Aughnacloy.
11 UDR: This battalions HQ is the joint RUC/UDR base at Mahon Road, Portadown. There is also a company base at Lisburn. The
battalion is approximately 772 strong. It patrols an area of 1,500 square kilometres, basically between the two towns and the strategic M1 motorway corridor between them. Their TAOR also includes the Craigavon industrial estate.
NOTE: APPENDICES II & III COVERS TAOR AND SHOULD BE USED WHEN COVERING THIS SECTION.
As already stated the role of the UDR has developed and expanded its role in the conflict in the Six Counties. In order to fulfil its new role the training of UDR personnel has also expanded and developed. From being an inadequately trained and ill equipped part-time force whose role was static guard duties and manning road blocks in support of the regular British army, the UDR is now a professionally trained and better equipped force which has primacy over the British Army in many areas of operation.
Over the last twenty years we can see how the training of the UDR has developed in tandem with its expanding role in the Six Counties. The most significant developments have occurred since 1976 with the introduction of the `Ulsterisation' policy. 1976 was the first time that units of UDR were sent to military ranges in Britain. Units were sent to `Warcop' in Cumbria for more rigorous training in signalling techniques, practising anti-ambush tactics and marksmanship. This was also the period when specially trained search teams were formed within the UDR. During these one week courses alertness and the danger of booby traps was stressed. Since 1977 a greater emphasis has been placed on the training of full time UDR soldiers.
By 1978 six battalions of the UDR had been trained in England. By then they were training in terrain similar to that of South Armagh etc. The training had expanded to include new anti-ambush and search techniques, liaison work with helicopters and map reading. In 1979 it emerged that a number of NCOs were trained in urban and rural ambush techniques, undercover operations, and
evasion exercises. This was a week long course organised and run by the SAS. This training strategy was part of the move to shift the emphasis from mass intelligence gathering using British
troops to hard intelligence collecting with an increasing use of indigenous intelligence operatives.
In 1986, under the then commander of the UDR Brigadier Michael Bray, further reforms of training were carried through to improve the efficiency and professionalism of the UDR. Basic training for part-timers was increased from nine to fourteen days to be completed within the first three months of service. Extra training officers from the British army were added to each
battalion. A regular officer a lieutenant-colonel was brought into fill the post of laison, designed to draw the RUC more fully into the training of the UDR.
Recruitment for the UDR is usually carried out in news paper ads, although the TV ads were used during the 1970s. A typical advert would be looking for applicants from 18 to 40 years old and up to 55 years old in certain circumstances. New recruits would sign on for one, two or three years service. Security vetting of recruits is carried out by a department based at Lisburn. It is run by the MOD and staffed by Civil Servants and ex-RUC and
military officers. Many of the people rejected by the RUC's own vetting process are still allowed to join the UDR. There are three different categories of soldiers within the UDR. The part-time member, the full-time member (known as permanent cadre) and regular British troops who are posted to the UDR for tours of duty, usually for two years duration. (These categories are covered in more detail in another Section)
The recruitment of officers for the UDR is carried out through the regular army commission board for full-timers, while the part-time commissions continue to be selected and trained using the same procedure as the Territorial Army. In order to develop a UDR officer corp a strategy was devised to target six formers in schools in order to offer them a long term career as an officer in the UDR. Existing officers are encouraged to go on tours of voluntary attachment to other British army units to widen their military experience. By April 1990 15 men and two women had successfully completed Sandhurst and passed out at the sovereign's parade.
The general staff at UDR HQ co-ordinate training throughout the UDR. Most training is done at unit level. Battalions training officers are regular officers who control a staff of regular NCOs. Battalion staff officers co-ordinate the training of new recruits for both full-time and part-time members. Ballykinlar is the main centre for the centralised battalion training courses. At this centre UDR personnel are trained in shooting, coaching, signals, driving and all other military skills. Five basic training courses a year are held for new recruits and about 50 new UDR personnel pass out at the end of each course.
The full-time members of the UDR undergo a nine week course at Ballykinlar. Training also takes place at Warcop in Cumbria, School of Infantry at Warminister, School of Engineering at
Chattern in Cumbria. UDR personnel undergo continuous training. Each member must do at least 12 days training each year including three days at camp and a number of evening periods. Most training is carried out at weekend camps. New recruits can go out on patrol after only seven days training. At training camps an emphasis is also put on human awareness and relations with the public. All full-timers must serve at least three months as a part-timer before attempting a nine week basic course.
In 1986 Brigadier Bray pioneered the "break programme" to supplement the training of the UDR. This programme for full-timers involved a one week assignment away from the Six Counties with regular units of the British army in order to broaden the skills, training experience of UDR units. Members could end up in places as far apart as Wales and Belize. UDR personnel are encouraged to get involved in sporting and character building activities to boost operational effectiveness.
In conjunction with the improvement in the UDR they have also been equipped with and have access to more modern equipment. At present the UDR has access to:
5,843 SA 80 rifles.
912 5.56mm light support weapons.
6 7.62 machine guns GPMG,
865 9mm Browning pistols
(265 of which are personal issue).
1,985 9mm Walther pistols
(1842 of which are personal issue).
The UDR also has access to 167 L67 which fire plastic bullets. Although the UDR has been trained in their use to date they have not used them. Of the 447 land rovers which the UDR have most are of the older model protected by Maltralon but there are plans to equip them with new land rovers filled with light weight armour. The UDR also has another 425 vehicles ranging from unmarked vans for carrying goods and equipment between barracks to a brightly painted recruitment trailer. From 1972 the UDR have been patrolling loughs and water ways in the Six Counties. Today they are equipped with Dory patrol boats which are capable of speeds of up to 20 knots. Today every UDR company has its own trained search team complete with sniffer dogs.
With the proposed amalgamation of UDR and the Royal Irish Rangers, the present members of the UDR will have greater access to both better training techniques and more modern equipment. This in turn will enable the UDR to become a more efficient and professional instrument of aggression.
Like the UDR itself the regiment's role in intelligence has been a double edged sword in its use against republicans and our communities. Within an official and structured set-up UDR personnel take part in the gathering, processing and receiving of intelligence for use in Crown force actions against ONH. On the other hand and for the past 20 years, UDR personnel have also participated in and assisted, British inspired murder gangs. In doing so they have used UDR membership for among other things, to gain access to crown force intelligence.
UDR soldiers, in contrast to regular soldiers, are more effective in gathering intelligence owing to the local knowledge and their insights and access to our areas and life styles. While "off duty" they remain an active enemy with further opportunities to pick up intelligence. Many within the UDR ranks, primarily part timers work in a range of civilian jobs and as tradesmen, milkmen, postmen etc., have frequent opportunities to observe our areas and our movements. In addition to those who work all UDR personnel have a home and a social life and many participate in sporting and recreational activities - scenarios which brings them into contact with different circles of people, quite a few of whom have loyalist sympathies, who would be likely sources of information. Therefore every local UDR member, "on or off duty" is a potential gatherer of intelligence.
The British having long recognised the crucial importance of intelligence, allocated the UDR its first role in intelligence when the regiment was reorganised in the mid 70's. Such was the sensitivity of the decision, owing to the UDR's reputation, that it was not disclosed to the public.
Today the UDR have a two-tiered intelligence system which operates at company and battalion level. Each UDR company has a 3-4 person intelligence section which covers combat intelligence ie the processing of data from vehicle checkpoint sheets, and the collation of information from UDR patrols on their return from duty. Anything picked up by UDR personnel while off duty is also collated. This intelligence is then forwarded to battalion head quarters, each of which has an intelligence section. This section, which has sole responsibility for any "hard" intelligence, stores and assesses all collated material. Any of which is deemed useful is channelled to operational officers at battalion and company levels. The battalion section would also liaise with their counterparts in the RUC and regular army within their common areas of operations. On a Panorama programme (BBC February 1990) the then Commander of the UDR Brigadier Ritchie
admitted that the UDR was primarily a force to be used against the IRA. He further stated that his members did not ever receive extensive briefings on loyalist paramilitaries, much less be deployed against them. This point again illustrates the partisan nature of not just the UDR but any local militia raised by the British.
8. Green Finches
As with other aspects of the UDR the role of women has expanded and developed over the years. Women recruits in the UDR are commonly known as the Greenfinches. They serve on both a part time and full time basis along with their male colleagues. Greenfinches do not have a separate battalion or company but are attached to the overall command structure of the regiment.
Women were only able to join from 1973. Previous to this the 1969 UDR Act only allowed for the recruitment of men therefore new legalisation had to be passed in the British parliament allowing to enlist. This legalisation also made it necessary for women to have a form signed by their husbands/fathers verifying their acceptance that the woman could join. 700 vacancies were made
available in the regiment for Greenfinches. The introduction of women allowed the UDR to release more men away from clerical and administrative duties to go on patrol and guard duties. Therefore the initial role of Greenfinches was clerical work and operating radios in the Operations' Room. Their only operational role then was the searching of women. Although some training was given in the use of firearms, Greenfinches were and still remain unarmed while on duty, although some do carry personal firearms while off duty.
Over the years the role of the Greenfinches has broadened out and they began to take on more operational roles that had previously been exclusive to their male counterpoints. Naturally the
training of the Greenfinches has also broadened. New women recruits do an eight day basic course, while women officers do a two week course at Sandhurst Military College in England. The Greenfinches are given training on drill; how to report incidents; map reading; driving and field craft; First Aid; anti-ambush procedures; formation of vehicle checkpoints; personal checks and search procedures. They are also sent to training camps in Britain for additional training.
The majority of Greenfinches are locally recruited, but some women in the British army are posted for two year secondments. At present the Greenfinch duties include going out on mobile and foot patrols; manning Operation Rooms: involvement in intelligence cells; search and administrative tasks. There are approximately 600 women in the UDR and 1/9 UDR (Antrim) had the first female company commander holding the rank of major.
9. Welfare, Social, Sports
Involvement in the UDR is not just confined to strict military activities. Within the UDR exists various "bodies" or committees which promote the welfare and social life of UDR members and their families. The aim of this section is to highlight how the UDR provides the necessary "back up" facilities to maintain morale, improve efficiency and comradeship and to instil a sense of pride in the regiment. From a military point of view, these are essential ingredients for an effective and professional military unit.
When the UDR was first set up, part of the new image was to portray the regiment as an "impartial force" ( ie "The Specials may not have been impartial but we are now") was the creation of an "Advisory Committee". This committee consisted of three catholic and three protestant members, whose job was to advise the GOC on the running of the UDR.
This Advisory Committee has been virtually invisible since its formation and has had no noticeable input in to the UDR. The members of the committee have kept well out of the public limelight throughout the years. No doubt this could change if a serious effort is undertaken to promote the UDR (or RIR) as impartial and acceptable. However unlikely this may seem at the moment, it has to be borne in mind that similar sentiments were expressed about the RUC returning to nationalist areas.
One important area where the Advisory Committee does have an input is in the running of the UDR Benevolent Fund. This was set up in 1972 by General Sir John Anderson and is now a private registered charity. Its purpose as defined in its "Deed of Trust" is to make immediate grants to the dependents of UDR members killed as a result of their involvement in the UDR. The fund also helps out serving members of the regiment who are in need as a result of membership of the regiment, e.g. low interest loans to help cover the cost of having to move house or to replace a car
damaged by a bomb. The fund is administered by 12 trustees which include the six members of the Advisory Committee. Money for the fund is provided by donations from commerce and industry, the Churches (except the RC), Trusts and individual donors. All the major protestant churches hold a UDR Collection Sunday every year. In two years the Presbyterian Church alone has donated almost #100,000. In 1983 a successful drive was launched to raise #1,000,000 capital. At present the UDR Benevolent distributes about #200,000 a year on grants, pensions and providing free holidays etc.. Recently (August '91) an open day was held in Mahon Road, UDR/RUC Depot, Portadown, in aid of 11 UDR Benevolent Fund. It was open to the general public, but only on accompaniment with someone from 11 UDR.
The fund works with the designated Welfare officers from each battalion. Battalions also include supervisory officers trained to look for signs of stress and of potential suicide cases. Due to a number of factors eg. low morale, pressure of the job, availability of weapons the suicide rate among both the UDR (and RUC) has been on the increase. "Post-trauma stress" counselling is now recognised as a crucial service for the regiment, and the level of welfare care for those in the UDR has been substantially upgraded.
The training courses held in England etc. are also used to give the UDR members a break from the pressures of serving in the Six Counties. While in England trips are laid on to places like Blackpool and a series of events are organised including discos, tug-of-war and football matches etc. This is part of a relaxation and recreation scheme (R and R). From the summer of 1990 a new
family leave scheme was introduced for full-timers. Those who had completed 3 years service are entitled to a travel warrant at public expense to bring their wives and children to any "main land" airport or to transport their car and passengers from the Six Counties by ferry.
Like most regiments in the British Army, the battalions of the UDR have pipe and drum bands. Their bands are entered for competition and take part in ceremonial duties. The 5th Battalion (Derry) has had considerable success both inside and outside the regiment. In the 1980s they were grade 4 in the world championships and have held other provincial and national championships. They have carried out band tours in West Germany. On the ceremonial side, UDR pipe and drummers drawn from all 11 battalions took part in the celebration of the British Queen's
visit to the Six Counties during her " Silver Jubilee" (1977). The bands of the UDR also took part in the presentation of regimental colours to the UDR in the summer of 1991.
Participation in sporting events in both an individual and team basis has helped, "to boast the morale and efficiency of the regiment." The UDR has had many individual and team successes in shooting, athletics, football, netball, and squash. The world wide resources of the British Army have been open to the UDR and members are encouraged to become involved in sporting and
"character building" activities designed to improve operational effectiveness and widen their experience. Trips away from the Six Counties provide a break from the pressure from the UDR. Members have gone off to parachute with the "Red Devils", help in the South Pacific underwater archaeological exploration, went free falling with the RAF, skiing in Scotland and trekking in Norway.
UDR teams have distinguished themselves in various sporting events; eg. tug-of-war, shooting contests at Bisley were UDR members compete against the best of the British army and have won many medals and trophies. UDR members also take part in annual Nymejen march in Holland which is an international test of fitness, endurance and discipline. UDR battalion teams also take
part in the "Northern Ireland" First Aid championship.
The purpose of this type of "outside" activity is to ensure that the UDR can be viewed, "as an integral part of normal life". Of course where the UDR are participating there is always a high degree of security implemented, but despite this the overall design is to "normalise" the Regiment in the eyes of the general public.
10. UDR Collusion
Having concentrated so far on the creation and development of the UDR as a major element of British repressive forces deployed against ONH this section covers the involvement over the past 20 years of UDR members in collusion with loyalist paramilitaries and death squads - "Britain's unofficial forces." In the last two decades over 700 nationalists have been murdered by loyalist terror gangs who consider their role as supporting and complimenting the campaign of repression waged by the "official security forces". UDR collusion is only one aspect of a wider and more sophisticated practice of collusion that operates with tacit sanction at many levels within the British Crown forces. The approval of loyalist gangs has its roots in Britain's connection with loyalist violence going back to the foundation of the northern state. As we have already covered, the B Specials, the forerunners of the UDR were recruited en masse from the paramilitary UVF, armed and given state approval.
The B Specials were then replaced in 1970 by the UDR with ex-Specials making up 60% of its ranks so since its inception the UDR has been a predominantly loyalist force. The UDR vetting procedure has been such that it has allowed relatively easy infiltration by loyalist paramilitaries, a tactic which has been encouraged by paramilitary and some political leaders.
Against this background UDR collusion has been an ongoing feature in the campaign of assassinations which has been carried out by loyalist paramilitaries. The active involvement of UDR personnel in loyalist murder gangs comes in a number of forms. It includes participation in the attacks, the supply of information and intelligence, training in the use of weapons, and the supply of weapons and other materials.
Throughout its history the UDR has been linked to numerous attacks on the republican/nationalist community. Over 200 UDR personnel have been convicted in the Six County courts, many of them relating to sectarian murders. In the 1970's as well as involvement in the random killings of catholics, UDR members were active in loyalist murder gangs who were assisted by covert British intelligence operatives in carrying out operations, including cross border bombings and murder missions. In 1975 members of the UDR were involved in the UVF unit which carried out the shooting of 3 members of the Miami Showband. The band was stopped at a "checkpoint" manned by the UVF unit complete with UDR uniforms etc. As two of the gang were "searching" they were in fact planting a bomb which exploded prematurely killing both of them. The band members were then shot by the rest of the gang, killing three of them and seriously wounding the other two. Subsequently two more UDR men were arrested and sentenced for their part in the operation.
While random attacks on nationalist continues to be a feature of loyalist violence by early 1980, the beginning of the hunger strike period and the emergence of Sinn Fein as a political force a more selective form of assassination campaign has been evident in the activities of the pro-British death squads. Leading political and H Block activists were targeted in operations which involved more professional squads with access to better intelligence - John Turnley was shot dead in County Antrim, Miriam Daly, Ronnie Bunting and Noel Lyttle in Belfast, and Bernadette McAliskey and her husband Michael were very seriously injured in an attack on their Tyrone home. Two UDR soldiers were part of the UVF gang which killed John Turnley and were sentenced for fire arms offences. The direction for these assassinations appeared to be conspired at the highest level of the British Security Services (MI5) but the use of UDR personnel ensured the acquired level of professionalism.
In 1982 Sinn Fein member Peter Corrigan was assassinated by the PAF (UVF cover name). UDR man Geoffrey Edwards, Drumadd barracks was sentenced to life for this killing. He also was convicted of five other "attempted" killings, one of which was an attempt to kill Seamus Grew, who was later shot dead by the RUC.
In 1983 the PAF killed Adrian Carroll in Armagh City. Subsequently a number of UDR men from the Drumadd barrack were convicted of his murder. Significantly this killing was carried
out under the "cover" of a regular UDR vehicular patrol and checkpoint.
In the latter part of the 1980's and up to the present day there has been a noticeable upsurge in the specific targetting and killing of republican activists by loyalists. This has been possible with help and assistance of British intelligence sources who are directing a combined and reorganised structure of loyalist paramilitaries.
Loughlin Maginn was shot dead at his home by the UFF/UDA in 1989, and to prove their claim that he was an IRA Volunteer the UFF produced official Crown force intelligence reports in a move
which lead to the Steven's Inquiry. This inquiry turned out to be yet another "whitewash" but not before having to admit that thousands of "Security Forces" files had fallen in to the hands of loyalist paramilitaries and which resulted in the arrest of over 30 UDR personnel. These files contained photographs plus detailed information about the person's home, work and social life. It also lead to the arrest of Brian Nelson. Brian Nelson an ex-British soldier, was both a leading intelligence officer in the UDA/UFF and a paid Military Intelligence agent/plant. The intelligence he obtained from his handlers and passed on to the UFF included the movements etc. of murdered solicitor Pat Finucane. In relation to the killing of Loughlin Maginn two full time UDR men are currently serving life sentences for his murder.
Loyalist groups are also supplied with any proposed movement of Crown force patrols in their intended area of operation, and as has been disclosed recently Crown force personnel are engaged in surveillance work and providing safe passage for the death squads. The Panorama (Feb 1990) programme highlighted the widespread practice among UDR members of keeping their own unofficial note books and commenting on one it has obtained containing the names and details of 281 "suspects" - all republicans. During an interview on the programme an ex-UDR man revealed that for three years he had been a joint member of the UDR and the UVF. He considered it "as a matter of principle" to pass on all information he had gathered to the UVF.
The UDR also furnishes loyalists with access to weaponry. In twenty years over a thousand weapons have either been taken in raids on UDR barracks with UDR assistance, or "stolen" from UDR personnel "on" and "off duty". A few examples:
1972 UVF raid UDR barracks in Lurgan and seize 83 SLRs, 21 sub-machine guns and 1600 rounds of ammunition.
1987: Laurel Hill Base, Coleraine: 170 weapons were taken in a raid though later recovered. One UDR man smuggled 2 UDA men into the base. Subsequently two UDR men were sentenced for their involvement in the raid, one a Lance-Corporal who played a prominent role received 9 years, a private was given two years suspended for passing on information and conspiracy to steal the weapons.
1987: a UDR soldier stole 18 weapons from Hollywood Barracks HQ of 7/10. One of these weapons was subsequently used by the UFF in the assassination of Pat Finucane.
As well as UDR collusion with loyalist death-squads UDR personnel have been evident in conjunction with unionist politicians and loyalist paramilitaries in every major attempt to establish their own "private" army/militia:
Examples: The Vanguard Party: 1972.
The two loyalist political strikes in 1974 and 1977.
Paisley Third Force in the early 1980s.
The Ulster Clubs in the mid-1980s.
The Ulster Resistance (DUP sponsored).
Ulster Resistance is reportedly linked to the reorganisation of the loyalist terror network in the late 1980s. In 1988 an Ulster Resistance arms cache was uncovered at the home of a UDR man in Richhill County Armagh. It contained 1 rocket launcher (RPG) and 5 war heads; a number of assault rifles; hand grenades; detonators and 4900 bullets. He was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment. At the same time a similar Ulster Resistance cache was found at the home of an ex-UDR man, also in County Armagh.
Despite the changes made to the UDR as a consequence of its development as a more efficient military unit within the British army's wider command and control structure it will continue to provide a reservoir of support in all its forms for loyalist paramilitaries. This linkage is being increasingly harnessed by British intelligence to carry out an "unofficial" campaign of terror which compliments the "official" campaign of "counter-terrorism". This fits the pattern of counter-insurgency operations as set out by Brigadier Frank Kitson, one of Britain's experts in counter-insurgency who served in the Six Counties from 1970 to 1972. He outlined in his book "Low Intensity Operations" the basis for future counter-insurgency operations which were to be targeted against the nationalist community to force it to withdraw its support from ONH. Kitson threatened, "To squeeze the catholic population until they vomit the gunmen out of their system." Internment, Diplock Courts, the Shoot-to-kill policy, and an array of other repressive measures have been wielded by successive British regimes to achieve this end. Kitson's plan was the use of "pseudo-gangs" (with loose but controlled links with official military structures) to participate in the elimination of "suspects" which the "legal process" could not deal with. In carrying out this role loyalist death-squads/pseudo-gangs have the approval and support of elements at every level of the
British military and Security Services with the collusion of UDR personnel the most public face of it.
On July 23, 1991, Tom King the British Minister of Defence announced a stream lining and re-organisation of the British army. Part of the re-organising will be the merging of the Royal Irish Rangers with the UDR to form a "new" regiment, to be known as the Royal Irish Regiment. This merger is due to take effect in July 1992.
Just as the B Specials were re-organised and removed to become the UDR so again now the process is being taken another step forward with the UDR changing its name to the Royal Irish Regiment (RIR). The disbandment of the UDR has been "high on the agenda" of the Hillsboro' Treaty according to the promptings of the SDLP and have viewed this proposed merger as "encouraging". The British war chiefs now seem satisfied that the UDR has reached the standard of efficiency, training etc. to become an integral part of the British army overall. As Lieutenant-General Sir John Wilsey (GOC in the Six Counties) said about the merger, "This signifies the coming of the UDR. This will mean ever more patrols on the ground." Therefore the merger will have both political and military significance.
The Irish Rangers at present consists of 1,195 members of whom 15% are Catholics from the South. The `Rangers' have already served in the Six Counties as part of the regular army's tours of
duty. The numbers of the Rangers will be halved in the merger with the UDR. In fact it might be more correct to say that the Rangers will be absorbed into the renamed UDR. Although some personnel in the UDR will lose their jobs the addition of the Rangers will increase the strength of the RIR to 6,650. The RIR will consist of 8 battalions of which 7 battalions, (numbering 6,000 personnel) will serve in the Six counties, while the 8th battalion 650 personnel will serve overseas. The proportion of part-timers in the RIR is to remain the same for at least 3 years. So despite the perception of "regularisation" of the regiment, the key element of the "local militia" (home rather than barrack-based) remains intact.
In preparation for the formation of the RIR re-organisation of the UDR has already begun. At the end of September 1991, 2 UDR (Armagh) and 11 UDR (Craigavon) merged to form the 2/11 UDR at over a 1000 strong. Its new battalion HQ is at Mahon Road, Portadown and it is commanded by Lieutentant-Colonel Robey. The battalion is made up of both full and part-timers in almost equal parts. In December 1991 4 and 6 UDR will amalgamate, this has enabled army chiefs to release more personnel from administrative duties to patrol on the ground - an important feature behind the formation of the RIR - to ensure a greater operational capacity on the ground.
By making the RIR an integral part of the British Army, the regiment will have greater access to training, weaponry, equipment and experience. This obviously will lead to fuller professionalising of the "local militia" to become more effective against the IRA. Also with the automatic increase of catholics in the RIR, the British propaganda machine will swing into portray the RIR as an impartial force, with the aim of attracting Six County catholics into its ranks. No doubt there will be a degree of "pressure" on the SDLP etc. to view the RIR in a new light, and thus the hope that the SDLP will encourage, "those from nationalist communities to join and serve the community." With this in mind and in accordance with present military strategy, there is every possibility that the RIR will slowly but gradually be introduced to those nationalist areas not yet patrolled by the UDR, to take over the role of the regular British army in support of the RUC.
In essence the RIR will continue where the UDR left off. British military and political chiefs, including the British Prime
Minister John Major, Peter Brooke and Brigadier Ramsey, have said that the RIR will provide "The RUC with an increasingly effective military support" - which means that its role will continue to be that of trying to defeat the IRA and protecting British interests in Ireland. The RIR, by necessity, will continue to draw the bulk of its recruits from the same section of the loyalist community as the UDR does at present. Therefore, the continuing feature of the local militia will be the containment/suppression of nationalist aspirations.
The new regiment will continue to contain elements who will collude, be it in tacit or practical/physical terms, but the UDR/RIR also has become and remains an efficient, professionally
trained infantry regiment and their military capacity should not be underestimated.
Appendix 1 Rank structure
COMMANDER : BRIGADIER
COMMANDER : BRIGADIER
COMMANDER : LT-COLONEL
DEPUTY COMMANDER : MAJOR (NORMALLY PART-TIMER)
| | | | |
OPERATIONS TRAINING OFFICER | QUARTER MASTER INTELLIGENCE
CAPTAIN MAJOR | MAJOR CAPTAIN
(NORMALLY 5 COMPANIES)
COMMANDER : MAJOR OR CAPTAIN
| | |
2 FULL-TIME | PART-TIME COMPANIES
| | |
COMMANDED | COMMANDED
FULL-TIME OFFICERS | PART-TIME OFFICERS
PLATOON (35 MEMBERS)
COMMANDER : LIEUTENANT
3 SECTIONS (10 MEN)
COMMANDER : SERGEANT
CORPORALS : L-CORPORALS : PRIVATES
Appendix II Operational Structure
THIEVEPAL BARRACKS, LISBURN
COMMANDER : BRIGADIER
HQ STAFF : 20 REGULAR OFFICERS
RECRUITMENT, TRAINING, DISCIPLINE,
SECURITY, WELFARE AND PR.
|------------------------2 BRIGADE AREAS--------------------------|
39 BRIGADE : THIEVEPAL BARRACKS 8 BRIGADE : EBRINGTON BARRACKS (DERRY)
COMMANDER : BRIGADIER COMMANDER : BRIGADIER
| | | | | | | |
1/9 ANTRIM 2 ARMAGH 3 DOWN 7/10 BELFAST 11 CRAIGAVON | 4 FERMANAGH 5 DERRY 6/8TYRONE
| | | | | | | |
BATT HQ | BATT HQ | BATT HQ BATT HQ | BATT HQ
STEEPLE RD, | BALLYKINLAR | MAHON ROAD GROVERNOR | ST LUCIA
ANTRIM | DOWN | PORTADOWN ENNISKILLEN | OMAGH
| | | | | | | |
| | | | | | | |
COMPANY | COMPANY | COMPANY COMPANY | COMPANY
BASES | BASES | BASES BASES | BASES
| | | | | | | |
BALLYMENA | KILKEEL | LISBURN ST ANGELO | CASTLEDERG
C'FERGUS | RATHFRILAND | LISNAKEA | CLOGHER
LARNE | | |
N'ABBEY | | |
BATT HQ BATT HQ BATT HQ
DRUMADD, PALACE, SHACKLETON
ARMAGH CITY HOLLYWOOD. BALLYKELLY
| | |
| | |
COMPANY COMPANY COMPANY
BASES BASES BASES
| | |
NEWRY MALONE RD. COLERAINE
PORTADOWN LADAS DRIVE MAGHERFELT
GLENANNE GIRDWOOD GARVAGH
NEWTOWNARDS (CO ANTRIM)