Troops get kitted out for peace

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The Independent Online
The Army is relaxing its security precautions for patrolling soldiers as a direct result of the new IRA ceasefire.

Troops will replace their hard helmets with regimental head dress when they are out on the streets, the Army announced yesterday.

The operational policy decision had been taken "in the light of the current assessment of the threat to the security forces following the declaration of the IRA ceasefire on July 20", said a spokesman.

Local Army commanders will retain the discretion to order soldiers to wear helmets for their personal protection during particular operational tasks.

The first sign of the reduced precautions came yesterday, when members of the 1st Battalion, The Royal Highland Fusiliers, donned their traditional Tam O'Shanters when they went out on patrol in West Belfast accompanying Royal Ulster Constabulary officers.

A similar move was made in the wake of the IRA's 1994 ceasefire, but had to be quickly reversed when the republicans resumed their campaign 17 months later.