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    Scots Guards bring heritage, music, war fighting to JRTC

    Scots Guards bring heritage, music, war fighting to JRTC

    Photo By Chuck Cannon | Members of the Scots Guards Pipes and Drums play for Soldiers from the 112th Infantry...... read more read more



    Story by Chuck Cannon 

    Bayne-Jones Army Community Hospital

    FORT POPK, La. — If you happen to catch a performance of the Scots Guards pipes and drums, don’t make the mistake of thinking it’s just a bunch of musicians in kilts.
    “We are the 1st Battalion of the Scots Guard, part of the Household Division, and we are an infantry regiment in the British Army,” said Maj. Adrian Havelock.
    The Scots Guards is at the Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk for Exercise Rattlesnake with the 4th Infantry Division, 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team and 112th Infantry Regiment.
    “We are regular Soldiers in a regular division, and our unit, the Scottish Guards, is a mechanized unit — like your Stryker battalions,” Havelock said.
    “We have 70 people permanently based in London that handle the ceremonial aspect, and then we have a battalion of 600 based just outside of London which does war fighting, and that’s us.”
    Havelock said the Scots Guards were invited to participate in Exercise Rattlesnake.
    “We have British troops come over and do many rotations here and likewise, American units do rotations in England, and that’s part of building the relationship between our two countries,” Havelock said. “The object of us participating in these exercises is to learn things about you and you to learn things about us. We use the word ‘interoperability’ which is basically what makes you work, what makes us work, and where the friction points are, so that when it comes to real war in the future, we know how to circumnavigate those problems because we’ve practiced it.”
    As far as the musicians — bagpipers and drummers — Havelock said they are Soldiers first and music is a secondary role for them.
    “They would have joined as Soldiers,” he said. “Some of them would have learned the bagpipes at school and so are proficient. When they join the Scots Guards some will put their hands up and say they’d like to learn the pipes or drums. But they are trained infantry Soldiers and do everything we do.”
    There are about 15 regiments in the British Army that have a pipes and drums band, Havelock said. He said the band is usually about 16 strong and consists of pipers and drummers.
    “The pipers and drummers here are infantry Soldiers,” he said. “They will go out into the box, and fight. A lot of them are mechanized trained and can drive and shoot the UK Stryker.”
    But while they are Soldiers first, it’s often bagpipers, drummers and guards dressed in their ceremonial finest that attract the most attention.
    “You’ve probably seen the iconic British Soldier in a red coat, with a basket on his head,” Havelock said. “Those are the guards.”
    There are five Guards Regiments in the British Army: Grenadier Guards, Coldstream Guards, Scottish Guards, Irish Guards and Welsh Guards.
    “We have a secondary duty,” Havelock said. “We conduct ceremonial and public duties in London predominantly. We protect Buckingham Palace, the Tower of London, Windsor Castle and Parliament, and conduct state ceremonial visits, such as when Donald Trump came across the other day, it would have been the Guards that provided security. That is a tiny bit of what we do.”
    The pipers and drummers accompanying the Scots Guards on Exercise Rattlesnake are known as assault pioneers.
    “They are the equivalent of infantry engineers,” Havelock said. “They are the ones who go into battle in the front, put in the Bangalore torpedoes, the charges to help you blow doors off in an urban environment, blow the wire out of the way so the unit can go straight through. The key is they are Soldiers first and musicians second.”
    But, there’s no escaping the fact that these infantry engineers — assault pioneers — are also talented musicians. Havelock said that can cause problems during training back in England.
    “When you try to balance the demand for music versus operational training, the two can conflict,” he said. “Some people, like the Queen, can say ‘I want some pipers for this event,’ but that might clash with an event you’re doing to prepare for operations.”
    When Havelock came over on a reconnaissance visit in July to meet with the units he would support during the JRTC rotation he said he brought his pipe major with him and gave the unit commanders a demonstration of what the musicians could provide.
    “We showed them what they could do, how wonderful they are and what a spectacle they are,” he said. “We offered it to them. All of our regiments have something special about them; we have more than 400 years of history, we have Scottish heritage, tartan and kilts, and the pipes and drums are very much a part of that heritage. I thought it was brilliant to come and show as much of our heritage of being Scotland’s finest when we came over here.”
    Havelock said since their arrival for Exercise Rattlesnake, the Scots Guards have marched for the 112th Inf Reg and plan to play at the JRTC and Fort Polk Awards Ceremony and the After Action Review for Rattlesnake.
    But one of the more unique performances will take place on Thanksgiving Day.
    “We’ll be in the box, and the plan is everyone in the box is going to get a turkey dinner,” Havelock said. “A lorry or truck, will bring our instruments to us in the box, and while the Soldiers are eating their turkey dinner, my Soldiers will play a bit of music in the background. It should be a memorable event not only for us, having Thanksgiving, which is not something we celebrate, but interestingly, two days later is St. Andrew’s Day, which is a very important day for us as he’s our patron saint and a day we celebrate. So we’ve agreed to celebrate St. Andrew’s Day when you celebrate Thanksgiving, and our musicians will play and it will be a good bond between our countries.”
    Another special opportunity has presented itself for the musicians of the Scots Guards. Havelock explained.
    “Part of the experience in coming to America is not just soldiering; four or five of my soldiers have never left the United Kingdom. Four of them had never been on a plane before,” Havelock said. “It was agreed from the beginning that after the exercise, I would let them have a bit of R&R — rest and recuperation — and so we’re going to take the unit down to New Orleans for three days.”
    Havelock said with New Orleans considered the birthplace of jazz and the pipe major a musician, they decided to conduct a recon in July.
    “We went there and saw a few musicians playing in Jackson Square,” he said. “We made an inquiry and learned all we had to do was book a time, so we did and we’ll play there on Dec. 7.”
    Havelock said it will be a special occasion for the Scots Guards pipers and drummers.
    “For them to have a photograph of playing in Jackson Square, to show their sons and daughters they played in the most iconic music city in the world, is wonderful,” he said.
    “Selfishly, there’s also a social media PR piece to it. Having the photograph and story will probably go pretty viral on social media. Our Army needs inflow, it needs new Soldiers, and while our inflow is good, you must maintain it. It’s events like this that will trigger that 17 year old that is wondering what to do with his life to join the Army.
    “The pipes and drums is something that makes us special.”
    Havelock said the American Soldiers have been gracious in welcoming his unit.
    “We’ve never been more welcomed by our American brothers,” he said. “It’s been a truly wonderful experience. They’ve gone above and beyond anything we could have hope for.”



    Date Taken: 11.22.2019
    Date Posted: 11.22.2019 15:45
    Story ID: 353131
    Location: FORT POLK, LA, US 

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