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2nd British general officer takes post with ‘BRO’

By Amanda Kim Stairrett | 1ID | November 25, 2013

The 1st Infantry Division's newest British officer was welcomed to Fort Riley Nov. 15 with a Victory Honors ceremony in front of division headquarters, a welcome he said was a singular honor for him, his family and the Army he represents.

"And, if I may," said Brig. Christopher Ghika, "it says much for the organization and character of this great division."

Ghika, who started his military career in the 1st Battalion Irish Guards, and, most recently, commanded the Irish Guards in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, came to Fort Riley as the "Big Red One's" second British general officer. Ghika will spend the next several years serving as the division's deputy commanding general for readiness. He fills a position left by Brig. Felix G. Gedney, who departed Kansas this summer after serving with the division and deploying with it to Afghanistan.

During the ceremony, Ghika said he hoped to show how privileged he felt to take up the post. The Big Red One has an immediate and enormous profile in the United Kingdom, he said, for its Soldiers' distinguished record in World Wars I and II and Desert Storm. The division's assault on Omaha Beach is essential study for any British Army staff college student and its role during Desert Storm, which allowed the British Armored Division to accomplish its mission, brought the Big Red One "legendary status," Ghika said.

Maj. Gen. Paul E. Funk II, commanding general, 1st Inf. Div. and Fort Riley, said Ghika's unit, the Irish Guards, fought alongside, in front of and reinforced places the Big Red One also found itself – places like North Africa in 1943, Normandy in 1944 and Basra in 2003.

The U.S. and the United Kingdom share something greater than just a distinguished history of notable units, Funk said.

"We share a strong camaraderie that has been built on like interests, rooted in the competence, commitment and character of our men and women," he said.

While many British Soldiers and officers have had the opportunity to work alongside American Soldiers in combat, very few have lived and worked in the U.S., Ghika said.

"Given the reputation of your nation, your Army and your division, it is indeed a unique source of pride to me and my family to be allowed to do this," he said.

Ghika is joined in the Central Flint Hills Region of Kansas by his wife, Clare, daughter, Alexandra, and son, Hugh. While the next two years will be professionally rewarding, he said, "for us, this is a family posting," adding he hopes he and his family can contribute to Fort Riley and the 1st Inf. Div.

"I could say we are proud to be a BRO family and a family that is part of this great community here in Junction City, Manhattan and the (Central) Flint Hills Region," Ghika said. "I was thinking of how to explain this, and I should maybe paraphrase Hugh at the end of his second day at Fort Riley Elementary School when I asked him how it had all gone: 'Another brilliant day,' he said."

For more photos from the ceremony, go to www.flickr.com/firstinfantrydivision/sets.

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