Army

Swift and bold: All about The Rifles

The British Army regiment was formed in February 2007 and has hundreds of battle honours.

The Rifles are one of the British Army's largest infantry regiments, comprised of thousands of personnel, four regular battalions and three reserve battalions.

Formed on this day in 2007, the regiment holds a record 913 battle honours, including 117 Victoria Crosses, and has played crucial roles in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The Rifles' colonel-in-chief is the Duchess of Cornwall, who succeeded Prince Phillip as Colonel-in-Chief of The Rifles in July 2020.

The regiment was created from four 'Forming Regiments': 'The Devonshire and Dorset Light Infantry', 'The Light Infantry', 'The Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Light Infantry' and 'The Royal Green Jackets'.

These four founding regiments also contribute to the Rifles' 'Golden Threads' – distinctive honours awarded to the founders, now worn by the present-day regiment during ceremonial duties.

Meanwhile, from the Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Light Infantry and Royal Green Jackets respectively, the Back Badge and Black Buttons are worn across the regiment.

The regiment's name, The 'Rifles', stands for: Respect (R), Independence (I), Friends for Life (F), Learning, (L), Excitement (E) and Success (S).

Its regimental motto, meanwhile, is 'swift and bold'.

The Rifles spell sergeant with a 'j' in place of the 'g' – this is a throwback to their involvement in the Napoleonic Wars in the early 19th century.

The Regimental Day is celebrated on 22 July – the same date as the Battle of Salamanca in 1812.

All four of the Forming Regiments had predecessor formations that participated in the battle, which saw a victory for the Duke of Wellington.

Watch: Exercise Cairn Patrol – section patrol competition tests 3 RIFLES on tough terrain last year.

With four regular and three reserve battalions, there is a lot of history and meaning behind each one that makes up the Rifles regiment.

Regular battalions

1 RIFLES

Based at Beachley Barracks, Gloucestershire, 1 RIFLES is made up of about 620 troops, all ready to be deployed around the world at a moment's notice as part of its role with 1st (UK) Division.

The light infantry battalion has taken part in tours to Iraq and Afghanistan, in addition to other operations, and was formerly part of 3 Commando Brigade.

2 RIFLES

Another light infantry battalion, 2 RIFLES is based at Thiepval Barracks, Lisburn, in Northern Ireland.

They deployed on several tours to Iraq and Afghanistan, including to Basra during some of the most intense fighting.

Each rifleman who serves with the battalion in Northern Ireland is entitled to allowances, including additional pay, four long weekends a year and 12 free warrants to fly to mainland Britain every year.

3 RIFLES

A regular infantry battalion, 3 RIFLES is based at Edinburgh's Dreghorn Barracks and consists of about 745 soldiers.

It operates within 3rd (UK) Division, which is the only division at continual operational readiness in the country, and has deployed on tours to Iraq and Afghanistan.

3 RIFLES is also one of only a few 'strike' infantry battalions, and is due to use the new Boxer armoured fighting vehicle.

4 RIFLES

No longer listed among the Rifles' regular battalions by the British Army, 4 RIFLES, one of the Specialised Infantry Battalions, was the first to join the new Ranger Regiment at the end of 2021, forming 4th Battalion, Ranger Regiment with elements of 3rd Battalion the Royal Gurkha Rifles.

The new formation will see British Army soldiers take on roles usually carried out by Special Forces – operating in high-threat environments to train, advise and accompany allies.

Watch: Ranger Regiment – the Army's radical future soldiers.

5 RIFLES

Based at Bulford Camp, Wiltshire, the formation is the largest regular RIFLES battalion and is part of 20th Armoured Infantry Brigade – NATO's lead for the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF).

5 RIFLES has used the Warrior armoured vehicle, which is due to be retired in the middle of this decade and the capability replaced by the Boxer.

The battalion has deployed to Iraq, and was also the last unit in Afghanistan in 2014, according to the Army.

5 RIFLES has provided the lead element in Estonia for the British contribution to the Enhanced Forward Presence – the NATO initiative to protect the alliance's eastern flank.

Reserve battalions

6 RIFLES

This RIFLES battalion is made up of around 500 reservists and is one of the largest reserve units in the entire British Army.

With headquarters at Exeter's Wyvern Barracks, other parts of 6 RIFLES are based around other locations of the southwest of England.

The battalion has been part of United Nations taskings, including being the lead unit on peacekeeping mission Operation Tosca in Cyprus, taking over from 7 RIFLES battlegroup in the role.

6 RIFLES also features the Salamanca Band and Bugles of the Rifles – a non-deployable band that plays various types of music in support of military and civil engagements.

Watch: Duchess of Cornwall visits the Rifles for first time as regiment's Colonel-in-Chief in July 2020.

7 RIFLES

7 RIFLES is comprised of 500 reservists, with a heritage dating back to 19th-century skirmishers and sharpshooters, according to the Army.

It is the Rifles' reservist infantry battalion for the south-east of England and London, as well as being a reserve element of 3rd (UK) Division.

The battalion is also known for the Waterloo Band and Bugles.

8 RIFLES

The battalion is designed to prepare reservists for frontline infantry missions and is paired with the regular battalion, 2 RIFLES.