Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 22 October 2014

Officer arrest sparks RIR bravery medals probe

A number of bravery medals awarded to troops attached to the Royal Irish Regiment who fought in Afghanistan may be reviewed after a decorated army officer was arrested as part of a probe into false battle write-ups, it was revealed.

Major Robert Armstrong, from the Royal Artillery, was detained by Royal Military Police on Friday so he could be interviewed under caution.

The 35-year-old was awarded a Military Cross in March this year for “consistent bravery and inspirational leadership” in Afghanistan.

It is thought to be the first time in more than 300 years of British military history that an inquiry has been launched into how gallantry medals have been awarded.

Maj Armstrong’s arrest follows claims from another soldier about “overblown” narrative in a medal citation.

Maj Armstrong was attached with the 1st battalion The Royal Irish Regiment in Helmand last year.

The officer’s own citation said: “While mentoring the Afghan National Army vehicle patrol Armstrong showed consistent bravery and inspirational leadership.

“As a result of his calm leadership under fire, losses were prevented and the lives of those injured were saved.”

Military police officers are also investigating other medals awarded to the regiment as part of the probe.

According to military sources it is believed that 17 honours and awards bestowed on members of the battle group may be reviewed if the allegations against Maj Armstrong prove substantial.

The Sunday Times reported that all medals awarded as a result of citations written by Lieutenant Colonel Edward Freely, who commanded the battalion in Afghanistan, could be scrutinised. Freely did not himself receive an award.

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