The tragic deaths of Tpr Hammond and Lt Col Thorneloe in Afghanistan will have been a severe blow to both friends and family alike. But the loss of the Commanding Office will have an impact on his Regiment in a very different way.
A regiment is very much a family, the Commanding Officer will have been born into that family as a young officer and will have grown and developed within the regiment just as others will have grown with him. The bonds of friendship, respect and even love will be great, formed over years of training and operations in arduous conditions. Mistakes will have been made together, lessons learnt and respect earned across the regiment.
A Commanding Officer is therefore more than just the boss, he’s not appointed like a Chief Executive from outside the company, he is “one of us”, he is “our best man for the job” and irrespective of how high he goes in his Army career, commanding his regiment will probably be his pinnacle. His memoirs would almost certainly contain the phrase: “Commanding my Battalion was the happiest time of my life”.
But just as when a Sovereign dies, there’s always another to take their place, so it is in the military. The Second in Command will step forward and will now be facing the challenge of picking up the men in the battalion and re-focusing them on their mission. They will all have lost a man they knew and respected.
For the sake of those who have fallen, they cannot fail.