County return a homecoming for ARRC commander Tim Evans
RETURNING to Gloucestershire was like a homecoming for Lieutenant General Tim Evans.
The new commander of the elite Nato unit, the Allied Rapid Reaction Corps (ARRC), Lt Gen Evans has replaced outgoing commander Lt Gen Sir James Bucknall.
And Lt Gen Evans is not new to Gloucestershire, having previously served as Nato Rapid Reaction Corps chief of staff during the headquarter’s move to Gloucestershire from Germany.
The unit has been based at Imjin Barracks in Innsworth, Gloucester, since 2010.
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When Lt Gen Evans first arrived in the county, the unit was preparing to be deployed to Afghanistan.
He rejoins ARRC from the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, where he was Commandant, and has moved back to the county with his family.
In an interview with the Echo, the avid hill-walker spoke about his love for Gloucestershire, the armed forces and plans for the future.
“It is good to be back here. We are not from around here, but we love the area,”said Lt Gen Evans.
“The scenery and the Cotswolds are just beautiful. We love walking, so it’s great when we have the countryside so close.”
Being born into a military family in Iserlohn, Germany, the 51-year-old has travelled the world.
His international experiences will help him with commanding the ARRC, which is made up of troops from 16 different nations.
About 60 per cent of the 1,100 soldiers are from the UK, and the rest are made up of troops from nations including Belgium, Canada, the Czech Republic, France, Denmark, Germany and the United States.
And Lt Gen Evans believes the unit’s diversity is a strength rather than weakness.
He said: “We are stronger together. Soldiers from different countries bring their own experiences, their own understanding of things, and their own culture, and that adds to the ARRC.
“It is something we are very proud of. There are experiences and lessons we can learn from our partner nations.
“Having been Chief of Staff, it has given me a good level of knowledge of the ARRC.
“You never know where you will go, but coming back here was an option.
“When you have been in operation or exercises with the soldiers here, it works.
“The diversity and differences are our strength, definitely.
“It is very interesting and you get to work with different characters.”
Working with Sir James was an eye opener for Lt Gen Evans, who was full of praise for the former commander.
Sir James has now retired from active military service in the British Army and plans to pursue a career in the civilian sector.
Lt Gen Evans said: “I learnt from him during my time here.
“He is very much an operational commander. He knew the unit very well, and he was always out to speak to people.
“He certainly made my time as chief of staff easier, and he was a great person to work with.
“Every commander has their own style, and it is the same with Sir James and myself.
“The main thing for us is looking after your people, soldiers and officers. That is hugely important.”
Lt Gen Evan’s military career has spanned more than three decades, after graduating from Sandhurst in January 1982.
He was then commissioned into the Light Infantry in August of that year.
As a junior officer, he served as platoon commander, reconnaissance officer, operations officer and an aide-de-camp.
In 1990, he passed Special Forces selection and served with 22 SAS as a troop commander.
Four years later, he attended the Army Command and Staff College at Camberley before joining the Directorate of Special Forces as Operations officer.
He was deployed to Iraq as the chief of staff with the Multinational Division (South East) after being promoted to Colonel.
He received his first star in December 2005, and assumed command of the 19th Light Brigade, before again being deployed to south Iraq.
Upon being promoted to Lt Gen, he then took over as chief of staff in ARRC.
He said: “I have gone on many memorable tours, but one which stands out would be Northern Ireland with the SAS.
“I would encourage anyone who wants to join the military to go for it.
“The experience is immense.”