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Major General Colin Shortis – obituary

Colin Shortis shaking hands with Margaret Thatcher (then Leader of the Opposition) in Belfast in 1977
Colin Shortis shaking hands with Margaret Thatcher (then Leader of the Opposition) in Belfast in 1977

Major General Colin Shortis, who has died aged 82, reached high rank despite joining the Army as a private soldier, and developed expertise at soldiering in complex and politically sensitive situations.

Shortis made a special contribution to the British Army involvement in Northern Ireland in three roles: developing the training of units going to the Province on tours, commanding 1st Bn The Devonshire & Dorset Regiment (1 D&D) on a notably successful tour of North Belfast, and commanding 8th Brigade in Londonderry where his leadership significantly reduced incidents of violence. 

In 1973-74 he led the Northern Ireland Training and Advisory Team and set about developing new methods of engaging in counter terrorism. These were employed where troops were in situations in which they depended critically on the support of the community. He stressed the importance of focusing on both “contact intelligence”...

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