The new commanding officer of the 2/4 Battalion of the
Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment, the new South Island
territorial unit, Lieutenant-colonel Grant McMillan, leads
Otago and Southland sub-unit soldiers in a parade
exercising the unit's right of freedom of the city in
Dunedin yesterday. Photo by Craig Baxter.
The man in charge of the South Island new single
territorial unit, says commanding a bigger team of Reserve
Force soldiers is an ''awesome'' responsibility and a challenge
he is looking forward to.
A change of command ceremony, in which the commander of the
former 4th Otago-Southland Battalion Group,
Lieutenant-colonel Roger McElwain, handed command to Lt-col
Grant McMillan, took place in Dunedin yesterday after a
parade along George St signalled the joining of the southern
battalion with the 2nd Canterbury, Nelson, Marlborough and
West Coast Battalion Group into the 2/4 Battalion of the
Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment.
The battalions were officially merged in December.
The parade was also an exercise of the sub-unit's right of
freedom of the city and the unit was inspected by the Mayor
of Dunedin Dave Cull before the handover of command.
A Darfield resident, Lt-col McMillan, who has served with the
Reserve Force for more than 30 years and is also the
principal of Ashburton College, said it was ''a huge and
awesome privilege'' to be the commanding officer of the new
unit, which brought together about 450 part-time soldiers
from the two battalions into one unit with two headquarters,
one at Burnham and one in Dunedin.
Battalion amalgamations have taken place throughout New
Zealand as part of changes outlined in the Defence White
Paper of 2010, which aimed to save the defence force up to
''My job is to take the best of both units, while maintaining
all the old traditions of the local battalions,''Lt-col
He likened it to a corporate merger, and believed that would
also be how civilians would view it''We've still got Regular
Force staff, Reserve Force staff and good people in key
appointments in each area. Nothing will change in terms of
the day-to-day, and the local services.''