British Army Reservist serving with US National Guard provided security for President Biden's inauguration, MoD confirms

Dominic Nicholls
·3 min read
British Army Reservist Major Keiron Francis (centre) with colleagues in the US National Guard. - MoD
British Army Reservist Major Keiron Francis (centre) with colleagues in the US National Guard. - MoD

A British Army Reservist serving with the US National Guard provided security for President Biden's inauguration, the MoD has confirmed.

Major Keiron Francis, a Royal Signals officer, is the first British reservist to be involved in a Presidential inauguration.

Attached to the Pennsylvania Army National Guard, Major Francis supported the forward elements of the 25,000 troops brought into Washington DC to provide security for Wednesday's event.

Under the Foreign Military Reserve Exchange Program, a scheme launched in 2017, Major Francis is able to continue to serve as a reservist whilst working in the US as a sales director in the defence industry.

The reciprocal arrangement means that around 30 American, Australian, and Canadian soldiers are currently doing the same in the UK.

Major Francis is the first British Reservist to be on duty with US forces at the inauguration of a US President. - MoD
Major Francis is the first British Reservist to be on duty with US forces at the inauguration of a US President. - MoD

Major Francis, a veteran of operational deployments to Iraq and the Balkans, has been an army reservist for 26 years.

He told the Telegraph the deployment had been “a really busy time”.

“Some of the states like Hawaii and Puerto Rico sent troops and didn't have the headquarters management teams. It was a fast moving and changing environment every day.”

Although some people were surprised to hear a British accent in the headquarters, Major Francis said he had been completely accepted by his US counterparts.

“There's no division or difference; we just get on and do the job,” he said.

During the Inauguration, Major Francis, 45, originally from Eastbourne in East Sussex, performed a signals communication role working as a staff officer in the operations room of 56 Stryker Brigade Combat Team, part of the Pennsylvania Army National Guard. He provided command and control radio and data support.

Given the sensitivity of the role and the occasion, authority for a British serviceman to deploy on active duty on US soil was required from the US Judge Advocate General’s department.

Major Francis said his nine-day deployment had been a unique experience and he felt honoured to have taken part.

“It's nice to give something back and show gratitude to the country that's hosting me,” he said.

Major Francis (in white face mask) benefited from a reciprocal scheme that sees about 30 US Reservists serving in Britain - MoD
Major Francis (in white face mask) benefited from a reciprocal scheme that sees about 30 US Reservists serving in Britain - MoD

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “we have hundreds of British service personnel embedded in the US forces, whether that's in the CENTCOM [headquarters] and the planning institutions or military support to the embassies.

“That’s a natural reflection of our special relationship with the United States.”

Mr Wallace said having military reservists attached to the US National Guard and elsewhere around the world is “a great sign of how close our relationship is”.

“I've always said the special relationship is not just at the political level, it’s deep in those professional relationships and business and financial and cultural relations, that's what our relationship really is about.”