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The Rifles

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5th Battalion The Rifles training at Sennelager in Germany prior to deployment to Estonia, 2017

Origins

The Rifles was a ‘large regiment’ formed in February 2007 by amalgamating The Royal Green Jackets, The Devonshire and Dorset Light Infantry, The Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Light Infantry and The Light Infantry.

Initially consisting of five regular and two Reserve battalions, it currently includes four regular and three Reserve battalions.

The largest regiment in the Army, The Rifles is the county regiment for Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Durham, Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, Oxfordshire, Shropshire, Somerset and Wiltshire.

Cap badge, The Rifles, c2019

A soldier from the 2nd Rifles in Basra, 2007

Deployments

The 2nd, 3rd and 4th Battalions all deployed to Iraq in 2007 at the height of the insurgency there. The following year, 1st Battalion served in Afghanistan mentoring the Afghan National Army in Helmand. The battalion returned there again in 2011.

The 5th Battalion was one of the last British Army units to leave Iraq in 2009. A year later, 2nd, 4th and 5th Battalions also deployed to Afghanistan, remaining there until 2011.

In recent years, various battalions of The Rifles have undertaken training, mentoring and peacekeeping duties in Belize, Canada, Cyprus, Mali, Sudan and the United States. In 2017 and 2020, battalions from the regiment deployed to Estonia alongside Britain's Nato allies.

In 2018, 2nd Battalion undertook a six-month deployment to Iraq in support of Iraqi and Kurdish forces who were engaged against Islamic State.

The 5th Rifles mount a patrol near Basra Airport, 2009

5th Rifles patrol from Forward Operating Base Oxford, 2009

Roles

The regiment’s 1st and 2nd Battalions operate as light infantry, while 3rd Battalion and 5th Battalion are mechanised forces using Boxer and Warrior armoured fighting vehicles.

In late 2021, the regiment's 4th Battalion was allocated to the newly raised Ranger Regiment.

Regimental museums

The National Army Museum works with a network of Regimental and Corps Museums across the UK to help preserve and share the history and traditions of the Army and its soldiers.

Discover more about The Rifles by visiting The Rifles Museum in Winchester.

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