A MILITARY commander says his posting to the region has made him one of the happiest officers in the British Army.

Brigadier Richard Felton took over command of 4 Mechanized Brigade, now based at Catterick Garrison, North Yorkshire, last month.

In his first interview since taking the post, Brig Felton told The Northern Echo he was delighted to be back in the region after previously serving at Catterick and RAF Dishforth.

The brigadier took over command from Brigadier Julian Free following the brigade’s move from Osnabruck, in Germany.

More than 3,000 soldiers made the move, along with an estimated 7,000 civilian workers and family members.

The operation was the biggest troop movement of its kind since 1963.

Brig Felton said: “I’m absolutely delighted to be commanding 4 Mechanized, but also to be back in North Yorkshire.

“I went to Iraq with the brigade last year. I know it well and I know what a first-class organisation it is.

“My wife, Mia, is also from Harrogate and her parents still live there.

“I’m probably one of the happiest brigade commanders in the Army at the moment.”

The brigadier admitted he had been skeptical about moving to Catterick, but said his fears had now been allayed.

“The way we have been received has been fantastic and I would like to thank your readers for that welcome,”

he said.

“Everybody has been impressed with the service they have had and the quality of life that is available here.

“We will integrate with the community as much as we can.

“It’s important that we feel part of the wider community and not just part of the military community.”

He said he was particularly pleased with the new soldier accommodation being built in the garrison town.

About £250m is being spent on the redevelopment of the base.

According to the commander, the brigade has a busy year ahead.

This includes training on the ranges at Catterick and southern England.

Several regiments will go on exercise to Canada this summer, while 1 Mercian will train in Kenya.

“We would then be available for operations next year,” he said.

The brigadier, who has a 17-yearold son, lists sub-aqua diving and walking in the Yorkshire Dales as his hobbies.

He also revealed plans to explore the North York Moors armed with a copy of the Good Pub Guide.