More than 2000 Scots soldiers are awaiting official notification to leave their base near Bergen, Germany, for the Gulf.
Yesterday, the last Challenger II tanks of the 7th Armoured Brigade were delivered to the ferry port of Emden.
There they will be painted in desert camouflage before roll on-roll off ferries take them on the final leg of their journey.
The brigade – known as the Desert Rats – includes the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards and the 1st Battalion The Black Watch.
In total, the brigade will comprise more than 120 tanks when it reassembles in Kuwait, which squaddies believe could in as little as three weeks. Speaking yesterday at the Fallingbostel base, Major Charlie Lambert, second-in-command of the RSDG, said spirits are high among the troops – and they know what is expected of them.
He said: “Saddam Hussein is in breach of more than 10 UN resolutions so far. The question we would ask as soldiers is at what stage does someone say, `Enough is enough.’
“We are the ultimate deterrent and are prepared to do our job if called upon.”
Major Lambert believes there is little point in asking if Britain should be so supportive of America.
He said: “If you accept that we have a world that has a United Nations, which in turn has a security council which makes resolutions and those resolutions are continually broken then, at some stage, somebody has to enforce the implementation of those resolutions.
“And that’s our business.”
The RSDG and Black Watch battlegroups are both 1000 strong. Each will go into theatre with around 30 tanks and 32 armoured fighting vehicles.
No official orders to move have been received but Major Lambert says much will depend on the time it takes the vehicles to reach Kuwait.
He said: “We’re looking at a couple of weeks to get the equipment out there. Some people have started arriving already but it’s difficult to put an exact timeline on when the tail- end of the brigade will be there.
“I’m led to believe the weather in the Gulf is warming and the longer we can have in theatre to acclimatise the better.” For some of the younger soldiers it will be the first time they have experienced a battlefield.
But Major Lambert believes more experienced troops will be able to pass on the benefit of their knowledge.
He explained: “We have a strong regimental family spirit. There is enough experience as you go through the rank structure among those who have been in this situation before to keep the younger ones on the straight and narrow.”
The troops have also been made fully aware of the part the Desert Rats played in north Africa during World War II.
Major Lambert said: “It’s interesting to read that the trials and tribulations they went through were the same as the ones we are going through now.
“We have a tradition to uphold and a reputation to maintain, which we will do.” Much of the work to “desertise” the vehicles for the extreme conditions has already been done and senior officers are confident they won’t encounter the same problems which hampered a military exercise in Oman last year.
The major added: “I’m confident we won’t have the same problems with the tanks as we had in the desert exercises last year, for two reasons.
“The desert in Kuwait and Iraq is different from that in Oman and secondly, the lessons have been learned and there is a programme in place that will solve those problems and let us to do our job properly.
“We are the ultimate deterrent and must prepare as such.
“When people are asked to train for this they are very happy, because this is what they join the Army for.” But while the troops are optimistic about what is ahead, the people of Fallingbostel – population 6000 – will be left to count the cost of so many soldiers leaving at the same time.
In normal circumstances, every second person in the bars, restaurants and shops speaks with a British accent.
In the past, they have had to deal with individual regiments disappearing on exercises, but rarely do they say goodbye to virtually the entire British presence.
Major Lambert said: “It would be naive to suggest this won’t have an affect on this town but, at times like this, quite often family members from the UK will come out to be with the families here so that will bring addition people.
“When we come home, there will be another flood of people coming out to spend money. The locals are entirely supportive, they are very pro- military in this part of Germany.
“There is a readiness state which we have to meet.
“But that is based on when the vehicles leave on the ships, how long the ships take and our ability to then move in time to meet those ships on arrival.”
Known as Scotland’s cavalry, the vast majority of the RSDG are Scottish, with Glasgow traditionally a strong recruiting area.
Between them, the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards and the Black Watch will provide around 2000 troops of the 26,000 troops deployed in the region in the next few weeks.
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