Commandant moves on

Colonel Pat O’Meara who has commanded the Battalion for the last four years leaves us tomorrow to take up his new appointment as Colonel Cadets 51 Infantry Brigade and HQ Scotland.

Colonel O’Meara told Reporting G&L of his thoughts at this time:

It seems very strange to be leaving the Battalion after four years as commandant but it is not the first time I have moved on! Back in 2012 I was the deputy commandant of the West Lowland Battalion (that covers Clyde, Ayrshire and Arran; Dumfries & Galloway), a post I held for just over two and a half years, and prior to which I had been with the Glasgow & Lanarkshire Bn since I moved here from London in 1998. In that time I have also been (very briefly!) the Bn PRO, an assistant training officer, detachment commander and a company commander.

The post of commandant is one of contradictions. On the one hand, it takes a great deal of time, can be heavy going (especially when things don’t go right – and sometimes they don’t!) and you are the one the buck stops with, but on the other hand it is rewarding, fun and you get to be the top dog!

My new job is another contradiction. I will be the senior adviser to the brigade commander (the regular army soldier who is in charge of the Army in Scotland) on ACF matters (and the army section of the CCF) and also act as the voice of the 8 Scottish commandants and OCs of the two independent batteries on Orkney and Shetland, but I will command nothing! It might seem a strange choice to leave where the cadets and adults are, but I am very much looking forward to being in a position of being able to influence the future direction of the ACF. One thing that the cadet colonels from across the UK do is meet up three or four times a year to talk about proposed changes, whether that is training, how adult volunteers are supported; or new initiatives, such as the roll out of the cadet expansion programme, where here in Scotland pupils are choosing the ACF as a curricular subject in one of the new ‘linked’ detachments, such as at Govan High School. I can tell you that the amount of change that has been going on in the last few years has made us a safer, more professional organisation delivering higher quality training with so many great benefits for our young people, but this has not been without cost – there has never been more asked of our volunteers and it has been recognised for some time that we are at the point where we cannot be asked to do more and I will be helping ensure that the army keeps its promise to do things like reduce the amount of administration that we do.

As I look back over the 18 years since I joined GandL, I think more about the highs than any lows that there might have been. Getting used to the accent (and people getting used to mine!), working with some fantastically motivated and good people, setting up a new detachment (in Easterhouse), running C Company, my time as commandant and of course working with and getting to see our great cadets. It really has been a privilege and an honour.

I recall bravely saying to a newly appointed previous commandant some years ago that the measure of the commandant is how he leaves the Battalion, not how he finds it, but I will leave it to others to say what any legacy of Colonel O’Meara is! What I will say is that I hope that any work that I have done has been to complement the good work of others, most of who do not get to be at the top table, but who are the life blood of the ACF. So to them and to all the adult volunteers, permanent staff, civilian assistants and cadets, I say thank you and I wish the best of luck to you for the future.

You can continue to keep up to date with Colonel O’Meara in his new role @ColCdts51X from Saturday.